Cross posted from The North State Fighting Veteran's Advocate @ http://northstatefreedomblog.blogspot.com/
By Daniel Siler
North State Fighting Veterans Advocate
The view from where I sit is sort of grim some days. On some days it goes from medium Gray to dark Black. In my position I get a first hand look at how some Proud ,Honorable Men & Women heeded the call to serve their nation. They didn’t resist or run away. They stood firm and gave meaning to the words Duty,Honor,Country.
Due to the Privacy Act & confidentiality I cannot mention anyone or their needs that has passed through my office , I have been proud to be of service to 56 Veterans since April 14,2006. It has been my Honor to serve them.
In both its old and new forms, the VA drew its mission statement from President Abraham Lincoln's eloquent Second Inaugural Address. The specific phrase quoted by VA is: "...to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan..." The Veterans Administration was established in 1930 by Congress's authorization to "consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans." The Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers became bureaus within the Veterans Administration. Brigadier General Frank T. Hines was named as the first Administrator of Veterans Affairs.
But currently I have doubts in this great system and how it provides for our Veterans! America must put the needs of it’s Veterans first again. America’s Veterans, no matter the period in which they served must again become a priority . I recently was able to speak to several young recently discharged Veterans from our Tri-County area . They expressed two major concerns. First, With the training I received in the military there are no jobs in this area I can do so basically I will have to move to get one. Second, is a growing concern over the present state of affairs within the veterans administration.
Recently, Larry Scott of the VFW and VA watchdog.org expressed a report citing concern that with present budget issues over 200,000 veterans could be out of the VA system by 2009. The 22 May 2006 issue of the Army Times has as a headline ,PTSD Crisis-4 of 5 diagnosed vets not sent for proper care.
Do these Veterans ,Young and Old alike have reason to worry? Yes ,I think they do. Retired Veterans who were promised their medical & dental needs would be taken care of are finding a hardship in getting their promised benefits. Many are being told that simply, They make too much money. A society that ask’s it young men & women to commit to service in its military or to make a lifers commitment of it should be willing to provide for them. A local Iowa paper reports a story that is beccomeing all to common in our present day society.
It is a story of Hope, Hope for a veteran named Chris Nolan.You can view the full story on line @; http://www.vawatchdog.org/newsflash/newsflash05-18-2006-3.htm
But for our purposes I will just highlight it. And Please don’t be caught off guard and fooled! This same story happens with our troops here in N.C. also. Hope. That is about all Chris Nolan holds onto these days. He wasn’t forced to serve his country, he went Proudly & Honorably to serve it. Nolans hope is that sometime soon he will get a good night's sleep. That he will be able to work and support his family again, be able to drive a car farther than across town. Hope his attention span returns to the point he remembers to change his 5-month-old daughter's diaper.
"Most of the time I can't remember what I had for dinner," said Nolan, 23. Most people take such simple acts for granted. But for a military veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, even minor tasks can be a struggle. This is Nolan's life since returning from Iraq in March 2005. Before being deployed with the Iowa Army National Guard's 224th Combat Engineers based in Burlington,Iowa.
It is not the life Chris and Laurisa pictured when he joined the National Guard in October 2003. He signed up partly to earn extra cash to buy a home, to help his family. The opposite happened.Cause and effect! Despite Nolan's memory lapses, he vividly recalls Feb. 27, 2005. That day changed his life. Insurgents attacked a convoy Nolan was riding in between Karbala and Ramadi. Military officials described the mission as routine, transporting soldiers between duty stations.
That changed when a roadside bomb ripped the last Humvee in line. The heavily-armored machine rolled several times, coming to rest on its side. Nolan, in the second-to-last vehicle, said he and others turned to aid and protect their buddies. Despite his training, which he describes as adequate, Nolan said there is no way to be prepared. Events traumatized Nolan to the point he can't function in society or adequately help at home.
He is not alone, An estimated 30 percent of returning Iowa soldiers will battle mental-health issues, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs . The result can be tragic. Spc. Josh Omvig of Grundy Center, an Iraq war veteran, committed suicide in December. According to the National Veterans Foundation, a private nonprofit organization, at least 65 soldiers and 32 Marines have taken their own lives, either while serving in Iraq or after returning to the United States. Thousands more are being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Guard officials hope Nolan's courage to step up will set an example. Of the 100 soldiers in Nolan's company, three were killed and 17 received the Purple Heart for battlefield injuries. Does all of this sound all to famuluar to you? It isn’t the end of the story.
Besides coping with mental health problems, Nolan is also battling the government for disability payments. Nolan filed a claim with the VA in October. Late last month, he finally met with a VA psychiatrist who will determine whether he is entitled to compensation. A decision is expected in June. The family is frustrated the process took so long.
And there is no guarantee the request will be approved. "I would like full disability," Nolan said. "I think (government officials) are dangling us along, hoping we just go away."Full disability payments could be as high as $6,845 per month, according to the VA. The Nolans think their payment would be in the $2,000 range. The money would provide a bigger, better place to live, food on the table and security for the family. a letter dated March 28, Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis of the Iowa National Guard told officials in Senator Grassley's Waterloo office about the case. In the letter, Dardis said Nolan's separation was not medically related, and there was no mention of medical issues on post-deployment documents.
The Courier, however, obtained a copy of Nolan's post-deployment health assessment. On the form, Nolan indicated he informed the military he was experiencing several symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. He also said he sought or intended to seek mental health counseling. On another medical assessment, Nolan noted he had anxiety and insomnia.In documents dated Nov. 22, 2005, the VA said it couldn't confirm whether Nolan was in a combat or if symptoms of the disorder even existed. The administration asked Nolan to supply appropriate documentation.
In response to the request, Dickinson sent his diagnosis. Nolan's former company commander, Capt. Jason Wisehart, also says he provided paperwork showing Nolan served in combat. Wisehart says he doesn't think Nolan is faking symptoms to get money."He was an outstanding citizen soldier," Wisehart said. "I'm not in his shoes or know what he's feeling. But as his company commander, I'm trying to make sure he gets all the benefits he's entitled to." How many of our own North Carolina Veterans are going through the same problems Chris Nolan is? How many have faced this same problem since as far back as WWII, Korea & Vietnam? The time has come for not only the residents of our great state to stand up, But it is time that all America stood up, Public,Politicians ,everyone and let it be known they are tired of the way Americas Proud,Honorable Veterans are being treated! Veterans made the sacrifice just so you can sit and read this column.
Just like a lady told me the other day, All we hear in the news these days concerns illegal aliens. People have forgotten the sacrifice of veterans. If these people want to come live in our country let them earn it! Let them do a mandatory 2 years of military service! That is one point I have to agree with! It does us no good whatsoever to sit back in easy chairs and watch it all go by on the news. It’s time for America to get behind its Veterans and demand more for them! They earned it!
Republicans, Wake the heck up!!! You owe Us!!!!!!