American Veteran News 03.28.16

A VETERAN’S STORY: ENDURING PAIN, ENDURING BETRAYAL — ROCKDALE CITIZEN — Now in print for over four years, “A Veteran’s Story” has tiptoed around an issue almost too delicate for this journalist: the enduring pain and enduring betrayal of our Vietnam veterans. The psychological facet of Vietnam is the playground of therapists, but the emotional and unspoken complexity of forgiving vs forgetting, of the fallacy that “time heals all wounds,” and that “Vietnam is behind us,” is territory as hostile as the Au Shau Valley or Mekong Delta.

Writing a story — from time of contact, the recorded interview, drawn-out research, a rough draft, proofreading, a second draft, additional editing, then the final draft — can easily expend 10 to 12 hours of labor. Yet once completed and attached with photos via email to my publisher, it is not unusual to receive a call from the veteran who pleads, “I’ve had second thoughts, Pete, please don’t publish my story.” My response is always the same, “I understand.”

Time spent writing a story is insignificant to the time a veteran spent in Vietnam, in a hospital recovering from wounds, or in rehab recovering from failed readjustment, a failed marriage, or failed suicide attempt. I am only the penman; they are the vassal of their story, their own fate, tussling to either adapt or choosing to linger in the depressing corners of depressing memories.


PTSD RELATED SUICIDES HIGH FOR VETERANS — ORA — Every day, some 22 American heroes take their own lives because of stresses they have experienced on front-lines, and in combat zones. U.S. military and healthcare officials say far too few veterans seek treatment and remain at an increased risk of suicide.

In a recent interview with Larry King, famed war reporter, Michael Ware, opened up about his own experiences with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and shed light on why he thinks so many veterans struggle to manage it.

Ware, who spent seven years covering the war in Iraq, recently completed a documentary chronicling his work in combat zones and his treks inside the insurgent groups who targeted U.S. and multi-national forces in Iraq. Ware was one of the few western journalist to witness and chronicle the birth of the militant extremists now known as ISIS. The film provides a blunt portrait of jihadists and the inescapable cruelty of war. Named after the old adage, “Only the Dead See the End of War,” the documentary airs on HBO beginning this month, and will also be available On-Demand.

Writings and historical records show PTSD and its symptoms have been experienced by combatants for thousands of years, but did not become part of our contemporary language until the American Psychiatric Association added it to their manual for mental disorders in 1980. It was a somewhat controversial move as triggers were considered to be something outside of the patient’s psyche.

Congress later established the National Center for PTSD as part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and in 2008 a RAND Corporation study discovered more than 1 in 6 veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from PTSD or depression. The study also revealed the grim reality that not nearly enough soldiers were getting significant help.

If you need help, or know someone who does, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, or you can text at 838255 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s also information online at ptsd.va.gov.


81-YEAR-OLD FINALLY USES VETERAN BENEFITS, WORK CONTINUES TO HELP OTHERS — KSAT — SAN ANTONIO – The little house on San Antonio’s West Side has great curb appeal. It also signifies something Robert Garcia wishes he knew sooner, a case of what you don’t know, could cost you thousands.

“It’s a small house, but it’s comfortable,” says Garcia.

At 81, Robert Garcia is a new home buyer. He has been busy scraping, mowing and planting.

“I planted those rose bushes the other day,” says Garcia.

As he shows off his new purchase he admits one of the biggest reasons he wanted a home, the freedom to do what he wanted, on the ground or on the grill.


LEADING PRIVATE-SECTOR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM WOOS VETERANS WITH ADS — MILCOM — CHICAGO — A leading hospital system in the US is courting military veterans with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign, raising concerns from some veterans groups that private sector marketing could weaken the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.

The campaign tag lines — “Veterans have a choice in healthcare” and “You honored your oath, and so do we” — emphasize consumer preference and the shared values of medical professionals and the military.

Starting Monday, TV, radio, print and online ads by St. Louis-based Ascension Health’s will urge veterans to call a toll-free number for information about Veterans Choice, the cornerstone of the VA overhaul approved in 2014, which makes it easier for veterans to receive federally paid medical care from local doctors.


SAN ANTONIO MEDAL OF HONOR WINNER EREVIA DIES AT 70 — HOUSTON CHRONICLE — Medal of Honor recipient Santiago Jesus Erevia, a Vietnam veteran described as “a silent hero” of the Vietnam War, died Tuesday in San Antonio.

Erevia, retired from the U.S. Postal Service, received the nation’s highest award for valor from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony two years ago. His death at 70 from a heart attack came as a shock to fellow Medal of Honor recipient Patrick Brady, a retired two-star Army general who expected to see Erevia at a dinner Tuesday night in New York.

“He was a very, very modest, very, very decent person and his wife must be just devastated,” said Brady, 79, of New Braunfels. “He was kind of taken by all the publicity and everything that went on. He was very humble about it.

“Like most of them, they don’t believe they really deserve it and then they get all that attention and it just kind of overwhelmed him a little bit.”

Bexar County Veterans Service Officer Queta Marquez announced Erevia’s death, calling him “an American hero from our community and a hero to our country” who “epitomized selfless service and bravery.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Alfredo Valenzuela, 68, of San Antonio and a former commander of U.S. Army South, called him “a very silent hero.”


5 FINANCIAL TIPS FOR MILITARY MEMBERS TRANSITIONING TO CIVILIAN LIFE — US NEWS & WORLD REPORT — When William Curtis left the U.S. Army after seven years of service, he made what he figures is a $90,000 mistake.

The San Antonio resident says he skipped filling out some simple paperwork that could have put him in line for free degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Now, instead of a state program paying to further his education, he’s left to foot much of the bill himself.

Financial mistakes among military members are common, and experts say those transitioning to civilian life should follow these five tips to help move smoothly between the two worlds.


REMARKABLE TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY TREATMENT COULD SUCCEED WHERE THE VA HAS FAILED — DAILY CALLER — Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered astronomical rates of traumatic brain injury, but a new breakthrough treatment could put an end to toxic drug cocktails and bring about remarkable recovery.

Although the treatment is somewhat experimental, testimonials from veterans desperate for relief are starting to rack up. Two Army Ranger veterans finishing up treatment at a facility in Tucson, Arizona, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the procedure saved their lives.

Clint Chamberlin is just one of the veterans who has seen incredible recovery because of the Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) treatment, which he sought due to the failure of the Department of Veterans Affairs failure to provide him serious treatment apart from a list of psychotropic drugs.

Those drugs often cause more trouble than they’re worth and can increase suicide risk, but the VA has kept the same treatment practices in place since the end of the Vietnam era. Chamberlin told TheDCNF he had given up hope on the VA treatments and was suicidal, until his friends told him about HBOT and he tried the treatment.

“I had given up hope and was dead set so to speak on killing myself until some fellow veterans showed up to my house in Montana and escorted me to a plane to get me out of my living situation,” Chamberlin told TheDCNF. “I wanted to try Hyperbaric as a starting point because nothing the VA did had done anything to help other than suppress my life with pills,” he added.

To THE VETERANS VOICE

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