I'm a psychotherapist and as a member of Returning Veterans Project in Portland and around the state, I'm committed to providing free weekly therapy for veterans and active duty service members of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. I've been working with Marines and National Guard members for over two years now, and see weekly how the war is not only affecting the vet, but especially the spouses and children. Vets have a lot of resources with the Veterans Administration and Vets Center, but kids and (mostly) wives aren't seen by those two well-funded organizations.
But the stories I've heard, and the research I've read really show how at-risk marriages are from trauma it's aftermath: substance abuse, avoidance of relationships, irritability, dissociation. All these trauma symptoms make being in a marriage or relationship, or being an effectve parent especially challenging. Being the son of a World War II vet, and being the victim of his beatings, anger and alcoholism, also proves to me how critical it is we also work with the kids to help them see that the aftermath of trauma can be understood.
Most kids either 1) become their parent's parent (overparentified) and hav confused boundaries 2) become like the parent and treat other kids like they're being treated (often aggresively) or 3) rebel and emotionally cut-off from their parent. Parents, teachers, professionals -- everyone who works with kids -- need to understand the signs of veterans' kids who could use support.
I am a vet that has found Returning Vets and have had the best of experiences with the therapist that has donated her time for me. I am so grateful for all that she has done. I cannot speak highly enough of her or the Returning Vets organization. Thank you to everyone.
I am a Marine Vietnam Vet. I recently completed several months of individual therapy at a Vet Center. When I returned from Vietnam I enrolled in college and quickly put the experience behind me. For other reasons I entered therapy and spent several years of weekly individual and group therapy with the same therapist focusing on anger and physical aggression. PTSD was unkonwn and/or a theory at the time. During the years I have entered therapy from time to time and participated in 3-5 day therapeutic workshops. During my most recent sessions at the Vet Center I learned there has been a spike in Vietnam Vets seeking assistance for PTSD. It takes weeks to get an appointment and further appointments may be weeks apart.
I was on a double date when I saw "Saving Private Ryan" I had not cried that hard or long since my second year of therapy. I simply could not shut it down. This on a first date with another couple !!There is no one size fits all assistance for returning Vets. Each Vet is different and their experiences and capacity to cope with their experiences is different. Just as there are differences with each Vet's ability to cope with returning. This seems common sense since we were all different before we entered the combat zone. What I believe is that the entire person of the Vet must be addressed, not just their PTSD. I believe that prior to being discharged Vets should be stationed as close to home as possible and transitioned back into civilian life. I believe those Vets who actually participated in hostile action may generally require greater attention than those who did not. Transition needs to include assisting Vets to have a focus for their life with a viable support system in place. Not all Vets have a supportive family or community. My hope is that The Commission read the PTSD research and understood why those Vets who were wounded were better adjusted than those who were not wounded; and why. We Vietnam Vets were badly treated by our country and our government. Its perhaps far too late for us but perhaps our country and government can do better with our most recent combat Vets. I dearly hope so.
You spoke of PTSD today. Many soldiers come home with traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well. Symptoms range from catastrophic to subtle, and the key point is that they often overlap with PTSD. The diagnosis and treatment of these two injuries are different. The Brain Injury Association of Oregon (BIAOR) has information about resources, referral, and support services on its website at www.biaoregon.org. Most states have a BIA and website, and the national BIA is at www.biaa.org.
During medical training in the late 1980s, I treated a WWII veteran who likely had PTSD that had never been addressed. There was no resource for men his age, so I arranged for him to talk with someone at a Viet Nam counseling center. He never showed up and was lost to follow up. The problem is pervasive and it's high time that veterans of all ages and wars should have access to resources to help them. It's outrageous that so many people who sacrifice so much get so little help. Caring for our wounded should be part of the cost of war, not an afterthought if we can find the funds, as one legislator said to me. MeanMachine2, I hope it's not too late for you and your peers to ask for and get help. Please ask. I am deeply sorry you were treated badly on your return from service.
Kudos to Governor Kulongoski for creating the Reintegration Team, and to those who work hard for our vets. There are enough stories of vets and families struggling with the bureaucratic system, though, that it seems clear that it needs a lot of improvement. We who care can all write to our legislators to remind them that this is a priority. I am hopeful that our new President will do more for our veterans than the current one.
Physician, BIA Board member, and TBI survivor
A very sincere Thank You for the information and everything.
Come on and keep writting your blog will be more attractive. To Your Success!
Calcium Disodium EDTA
I'm a vet, but was aircraft ground-crew in the cargo portion of the USAF (what used to be called "Military Airlift Command"). I defer on experience to those who have been through fire-fights. I agree with MeanMachine that we non-combatants never went through the trauma that those with the weapons do.
We need to make sure that veterans and their families ARE taken care of, regardless of whether they were Active Duty, Guardsmen, or Reservists. I would suggest that the best the state could do is provide returning servicemen/women with low/no cost independent assessment options to challenge branch of service and VA determinations on disabilities. Also, extend unrestricted service member and family medical services access for one year after discharge for each year (and partial year) served deployed to any conflict zone, double that time if the service member was actively involved in ground combat.
As a separate post, I want to personally thank those who have stood in the line of fire for the greater ?us? and for me in particular; I include those who came before, during, and after my time in service, up to and including today. Consider this my salute: may you experience the freedom you stood up for, the peace you sacrificed for, and the care of the people you loved enough to offer yourself to defend.
My younger brother was gravely injured while deployed in Mosul, Iraq in September of 2003. He was just twenty years old, and had been in the military since June of 2001. He was driving a Humvee at the time of his injury-?a Humvee reinforced with only sandbags and old flak-jackets that he had duct-taped to the doors. His vehicle was hit by an IED. During the initial blast he lost the lower part of his right leg, suffered severe damage to his left leg, dislocated his left shoulder and broke his left arm in numerous places. He was treated at the site of the blast, moved to a field hospital within 50 minutes, to Kuwait within 24 hours, and then to Germany where his right leg was amputated at mid-thigh due to infection. After a week of being monitored and stabilized, he was flown to the United States and began thirteen long months of rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In July of 2007 he returned to Walter Reed and had his lower left leg amputated and spent another four months of his life in the hospital. In September of this year, my brother underwent another surgery to have his left leg amputated even higher, and he will have yet another round of surgeries early in 2009. We hope and pray that these will be the last. It is important for me to note what has filled his time when he has not been in the hospital: My brother has completed several marathons riding a hand-crank bike. He has become a skilled kayaker. He works full-time, and has been a student during the few breaks from the hospital when he has been able to complete a full term of school. In other words, he lives his life fully. During the entire time he was deployed, and in the five years since his injury, I have never--not even once--heard my brother utter a syllable of self-pity. He feels honored to have served his country, and what happened was, to him, always a possibility. I feel honored to know him.
This war, and the veterans of it, are different than the veterans of other wars. Those who have been injured in the line of duty have survived due to the sophisticated medical care (both in the field and in our military hospitals) that was not available in previous conflicts. Men who served in previous conflicts would not have survived such terrible injuries. My brother, and so many others like him, are young, vibrant individuals with their entire lives still ahead of them. The reality, however, is that these veterans will require medical/mental health care for the rest of their lives. While the military and VA system is staffed by workers who are incredibly dedicated to serving veterans, they do not at this time have the manpower or resources to appropriately handle the overwhelming number of veterans who are in need of care. Our veterans desperately deserve and need a VA system that is well-funded, well-staffed. They should not have to battle bureaucracy and miles of red tape to receive the most basic of services.
"They should not have to battle bureaucracy and miles of red tape to receive the most basic of services."
Alicia B.: Thank you so much for sharing your brother's story. Can you give us a sense for the kind of bureaucracy battling that's necessary sometimes?
In the years since his initial injury, my brother has been "reclassified" a number of times. He was initially classified as 100% disabled. Though his degree of disability has in fact worsened, he has been "reclassified" as 50% disabled, 80% disabled, etc. Many disabled friends and acquaintances from his time at WRAMC have had similar experiences with reclassification, and each reclassification requires a lengthy appeals process.
Additionally, every time my brother requires additional surgery/new prosthetic devices/repairs to his prosthetics, there is a mountain of paperwork to complete and many, many phone calls to be made to offices all over the country. He has had to learn to be a strong advocate for his own care and rights. A twenty-five year old has to navigate a system as complex as the VA simply so he can get out of bed and walk in the morning. I want to stress that the problem is not with the caring individuals working within the VA--it is with the structure of the system as a whole.
We should be embarassed at what is happening up on the hill....I must drive over 100 miles each way for simple ER or doctor services....the last time I used the VA in Portland I was there for over 12 hours.....to be seen for a common cold. I waited 12 hours in total....with a full 4 hours wait to get a prescription filled...while I was there, waiting, a Marine, recently discharged came into the facility and needed mental health services...he was polite until he had to wait six hours to see a doctor...by that time it was too late...he was manic and instead of helping...they called the police.
I submitted a formal complaint and met with the regional director and my Senator over services provided at the Portland VA....sure, it is difficult to gain great employees in a era where the VA can not match private sector salaries and benefits....only the very dedicated can afford to work there....the systems are broken....I was met with a clipboard and not very happy employees at all....the doctors are fine...when and if you can see one.
We have a system of clinics that COULD be used for local ER services....instead we must drive 100 miles each way....this is just typical of how vet's are treated on the hill.
There is a program tonight in Portland at the First Unitarian Church:
Voices of Veterans: A Welcome Home Ceremony
For veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other wars
November 11th, 2008 ~ 6 PM
First Unitarian Church
1011 SW 12th Ave Portland, OR
Hey, great discussion, guys.
I'm a reporter at OPB, and I've been doing some stories lately about the impact of the war. I've been stunned to discover how the damage of war can lie dormant for years. I've met former service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, came home, and did their best to get their lives restarted. They did OK for a year or three, but began to experience problems as they moved farther away from the supportive cocoon of the military. I also talked with one VFW counsellor who told me he's seeing more Vietnam-era vets running into latent PTSD and other psychological problems as they retire, when life finally comes to a slower pace. I know the Veterans' Administration has a big job on its hands already, but I find myself thinking about what can be done for veterans who are 3-5 years out of their service, and slipping through the cracks.
The VA should fund more support groups, more psychologists , more counselors, both at the VA centers and throughout the state, thereby reaching the rural veterans who are far from services. I spoke with a civilian psychologist today who reports he's been told there is a two year wait for neuropsychological testing at the VA. If true, this is beyond unacceptable. They should contract out all these services to private practitioners until there is adequate staff in the VA system. I know that waiting times for some services have been reduced and the VA staff are trying hard. The rating system sounds very complex and cumbersome for all involved. Isn't there some way to streamline this so soldiers won't lose everything while they wait months and years for a ruling?
There could also be more state or federal funding for the non-VA veteran-staffed storefront counseling centers scattered about. They take all comers, have less red tape, and may have more appeal to those who've been out for a while. They may have lost funding already in this tight economy. The short answer is: money and will. Any other ideas?
We Viet Nam Vets sat around and complained about the lack of government and community support. How badly we were mistreated following discharge from military service. We complained but we took little action. Perhaps if we had taken some definitive action, like the march on Washington by WWI Vets, perhaps we would not be having this discussion today. Maybe, just maybe if we Vets from Viet Nam, Desert Storm I and II, and Iraq and Afghamistan and our families marched on Washington some positive changes would take place. The "system responds to pressure not what is right, moral, ethical, or promised. Organizations like VFW could lead the way. We could ask for public support to help pay the costs. I can feel my anger/motivation just writing about it.
My grandfather fought with the Colombian troops at the Korea war. During his life after the war he was a very aggressive person who managed the family in a kind of dictatorial way.
Most of us knew little about him as he was a very reserved and solitary men. It has been incredible to hear your conversation and understand him a little bit 14 years after his death. It makes me see his memory in a different light.
Thanks a lot for holding this show
I heard on Democracy Now! this morning that on avrage right now, 18 veterans are commiting suicide every day.
I also was fortunate enough to attend the NW Winter Soldier hearings last month. I would avise putting 'Winter Soldier' in the google, and the youtube.
Chad, Thanks for mentioning alternative media and the different perspective on Veteran's Day and war that can be found there.
I support our veterans in the sense that the government needs to provide them all the support they need to recover from being used as a tool of American corporations in our generally illegal wars, and in coming to grips with the decisions they made. Every Veterans Day am struck by the underlying assumptions that our wars are noble and have somehow protected our freedoms, when in fact most often these assumptions are false.
I do think we might want to have a new holiday called "War Resistors Day" to set an example of celebrating those who were strong enough to refuse to serve in illegal wars of aggression.
"I do think we might want to have a new holiday called "War Resistors Day" to set an example of celebrating those who were strong enough to refuse to serve in illegal wars of aggression.
That is a great idea!
I also like the Dennis Kucinich idea of establishing a Department of Peace.
There is a website for VietNam veterans to share their photos. www.deltagrunts.com
at the moment there are only a few hundred photos there, but the site administrator is always looking for more.
We may hate what our troops are ordered to do, but we must love them, they are human beings. Every Vet's story needs to be heard and not judged. we may be repulsed, shocked, or disappointed by their stories, this is but a small sacrifice we must make to help these troopers heal their soul wound. some imagine it's all heroics, glory and courage, and if a Vet's story doesn't fit into that myth, the Vet is judged to be a failure, or a "bad" Vet and they are shut out and marginalized. our streets are full of those Vets.
In considering things like this I always to default to prevention, to how can these problems be prevented?
I've been thinking for awhile about the generals who had to resign in order to go public with their disagreements with the Administration. The military is by law under the control of the civilians. Now I am thinking that when any administration proposes a war we ought to have about a one month period in which all of the generals and any other soldiers get to present and argue in public their views about the proposed war, pro, con, or neutral. Then the Congress could debate it and give their advice before the administration made their final decision. After that month of discussions, the military would then have to go back to keeping out of politics.
We should not have to lose the experience and training of generals who dissent from the politicians and have to resign to present their dissenting views.
All of the problems with the War against Iraq were warned about by dissenting generals and could have been prevented! And since the problems could have been prevented, all of these veterans problems could also have been prevented.
I am the wife of an infantryman who returned almost three years ago from Iraq. On the way to work this morning I heard Mrs. Geddry's excerpt from her letter, and had to take a minute to compose myself before walking into my office. Last night my husband paced the floors, telling me as he came to bed "I can feel my brothers around me".
My husband is getting better all the time, but there have been moments in the last three years when I am grateful for my professional training as a pastoral counselor. One thing I would like to hear about is a discussion around providing family members tools to support their loved ones. I've often wondered how this time would have gone if I hadn't had the training I do.
Do please see Eddie Coyote's post below.
The Navajo have a three day ritual-ceremony for healing returning warriors because they know that people are damaged by going to war; a human is damaged by killing another human and the Navajo make sure that the warrior knows that and is helped.
We need to stop glorifying current soldiers and labeling their employment as heroic. Yes, certainly some soldiers are heroes, but no more so then most other segments of the population. I am grateful for anyone working hard for the good of others, if that is indeed what they are doing. But I will not respect and honor a group collectively. The request to "support our troops" is out of proportion with reality, and is more often then not, used as a cultural and political look-at-me tool.
Perhaps if the USA had universal health-care, it wouldn't need the medical wing of the VA, and soldiers could get care at any facility. This would certainly get rid of many of the complaints about the standard of care. It seems ironic that most soldiers overwhelming vote Republican, the same group that doesn't want universal health-care. But yet for soldiers they feel they should receive universal health-care. Strange.
During the election, McCain's rhetotric was all about "fight! fight! fight!" and his qualifications to be commander in chief. The problem was, we don't need a commander-in-chief. We need a leader-in-chief, a diplomat-in-chief, a statesman-in-chief and, hopefully, we got it. War is barbaric; not worthy of a civilized people. It should be abolished. Look at the toll it takes on our society, individual veterans who number too many among the homeless, the addicted, the alcoholic, the suicides. And the legacy of anger, horror and aggressivesnes that gets passed onto to families, becomes an example of the "the way to live" and continues the spiral of violence's viral infection.
I believe all this this in spite of, or because, my father was an Annapolis-trained Navy pilot, who died in service to his country in the early days of Vietnam.
We here about allot of studies about vetrens of the second gulf war. are there ptsd studies re: vetrens of the firs gulf war?
This entire program, and especially with the context provided by Mary Geddry, needs to be distributed nationally; Fantastic perspective!
You may not have organized and produced the program with this in mind, but this really needs to happen. Can I get a tape? (I just joined the website; perhaps I'll find I can download a copy?)
Ed Gallaher, Ph.D.
(I am a previous Research Pharmacologist (VA) and Assoc Prof of Behavioral Neuroscience (OHSU), although my research was directed toward quite different issues.)
The program can be downloaded from our website and we hope you will do this. Thank you.
I think that one very interesting lesson from Iraq is that the "insurgency" was stopped by buying them off! By hiring them and paying them! Can you imagine how much money and blood could be saved by going in with that strategy in the first place?
Divide the total cost of that war by the original 23 million citizens of Iraq and think about how different things could have been with an outright buyout offer.
Mary Geddry is a saint and her eloquence and compassion is amazing. Thankyou for being able to put a voice to your experience and for giving us a glimpse of the compassion shared by the 3 Iraqi women.
Is it not sad that in today's world we are still sending young boys and girls to fight and kill. How are we as a society any better than warlords in Africa that use children as young as 7 or 8 to use as killing machines.
Please look past the references to religion (god knows we have fought too many wars over religious differences) in the following lyrics and join me in deciding that war is no longer an option. Only when we stop creating veterans will the problems of mental and physical health care for veterans cease.
Come on, people! Come on, children!
Come on down to the glory river.
Gonna wash you up, and wash you down,
gonna lay the devil down, gonna lay that devil down.
I got fury in my soul, fury's gonna take me to the glory goal.
In my mind I can't study war no more.
Save the people! Save the children! Save the country now!
Come on, people! come on, children!
Come on down to the glory river.
Gonna wash you up and wash you down.
Gonna lay the devil down, gonna lay that devil down.
Come on people! Sons and mothers!
Keep the dream of the two young brothers.
Gonna take that dream and ride that dove.
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build a dream with love, children,
We could build the dream with love, oh people,
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love.
Come on, people! Come on, children!
There's a king at the glory river.
And the precious king, he loved the people to sing;
Babes in the blinkin' sun sang
"We Shall Overcome".
I got fury in my soul, fury's gonna take me to the glory goal.
In my mind I can't study war no more.
Save the people! Save the children! Save the country now!
-Laura Nyro singing "Save the Country"
It cannot be understated how far reaching the impacts of combat are as it spread from the veterans to their families, their communities, and further. It was mentioned today on the program the effects on spouses and children. OHSU is beginning a program to look at how to best help spouses and partners of veterans. Below is their website and informational fier.
Information Sheet for Radio Discussion Group (November 11th, 2008; Veteran?s Day)
Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at OHSU are conducting a study on how best to provide support for the depressed spouses of veterans. They will be creating a website designed to provide information about depression tailored to the needs of military spouses and partners. They would like to learn more about the experiences of military spouses. This feedback will help them determine what kinds of information they should put into the website. There will be no cost to participants or the clinics that provide participant treatment and all the information provided will be kept strictly confidential. OHSU IRB# 4594.
Who: Spouses and partners of service members who have been deployed.
How: Participants will be asked to take part in a two-hour discussion group to talk about key issues that lead to distress.
Participants will be compensated $30 for their time.
Where: The Oregon Health & Science University
When: There are three possible times:
1. Tuesday, November 18th, 6:30PM
2. Thursday, November 20th, 3PM
3. Thursday, November 20th, 6:30PM
If you would like more information, please contact Dr. Colleen Lewy at (503) 418-3768 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A friend suggested I tune in to the Vets show today. I was able to hear Mrs Geddry speak and would have liked to join the discussion, but could not see the numbers on the phone through the tears. I'm a Vietnam Vet, struggling for many years w/o help from the VA. In '75 I entered the old brick hospital on the hill in Portland. I'd lost 60 + pounds, had tremors over entire body and several bouts of blacking out. Before receiving results from blood tests, a myelogrm was ordered and done. Against orders, a med student took it upon himself to withdraw the dye and puncured my sciatic nerve. A couple hours later the blood tests showed a hyperactive thyroid condition. I believe to this day it was from agent orange exposure. I spent months learning to walk again and still deal daily with the continued sciatic pain, cramps, pins and needles in both legs and feet. In '85, after ten years of outpatient work,the doctors suggested I file a claim for disability. Within a month, all medical records from my admission to the date of claim mysteriously disappeared. There were other complications during that stay, including, but not limited to active TB five months after admission. All claims since have beeen denied due to the fact that "I'm not submitting the necessary medical records to substantiate my claim." I finally received a hearing in 2006, but was told two months later that neither of the tape recorders had worked...?
PTSD has also been an ongoing issue since my return from Vietnam in Oct of 1966. For some strange reason, the VA declared I now have it 42 years after the fact and gave me an 80% disability rating for that alone, retroactive to Dec of 2006. No mention of the previous 40 years. Last week, I read the following article in US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT:
If military veterans applying for benefits either haven't gotten a reply from
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or received a different response than
expected, it could mean that evidence for their claim file wound up in the
A nationwide review of the VA's 57 regional offices has found that 41 had
records in their shredder bins that shouldn't have been there. In all, nearly
500 benefit claims records had been erroneously slated for destruction,
including claims for compensation, notices of disagreement with a claim
decision, and death certificates.
That number could drop, because the investigation is still tracking down some
claims folders to see whether or not the records have already been incorporated into them. But officials also remain unsure how long the situation has been going on?and how many veterans may have been affected.
"The common problem in the VA system has been delays in getting the mail to the [veteran's] file," says Steve Smithson, deputy director of veterans affairs at the American Legion. "But shredding documents that may be relevant to the claim is new to us."
The issue first surfaced when audits by the VA's Office of Inspector General
found records erroneously placed in shredder bins in the VA office in Detroit.
In an ensuing nationwide review, the VA discovered that the Detroit office was
only part of the problem. There are 474 documents that still cannot be
identified as duplicated in veterans' claim files. Three offices have
contributed more than half: St. Louis, with 94; Columbia, S.C., with 95; and
Cleveland, with 53.
Particular individuals in the Columbia and St. Louis offices are being "looked
at closely" in an ongoing investigation, VA Undersecretary for Benefits Patrick Dunne says. "They are not handling clients." Sources from veterans'
organizations say they believe the two potential perpetrators to be under
administrative leave. The Cleveland office also remains under investigation,
and no particular worker has yet been identified as the source of the problem
VA's shredder bins typically are emptied once or twice a week, meaning that the 474 documents may represent only a few days' worth of errors. It will be nearly impossible to figure out how many documents had been incorrectly destroyed in the past?or if any have, Dunne says.
The approximately 50 different kinds of records found slated for
destruction?including nine compensation claims, 18 notices of disagreement
with a decision, and two death notices?could be key pieces of evidence for a
veteran's application for benefits, says Jerry Manar, the national veterans
service deputy director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. If a key piece of
evidence has been shredded, "it can result in the denial of a claim," Manar
says. More than 800,000 claims of various kinds are currently pending in the
The VA has taken swift action in an attempt to get the situation under control. All regional offices were immediately ordered to halt any shredding until changes are put in place. Training began in some of the regional offices this week to re-educate employees on the proper procedures for filing and shredding papers.
Meanwhile, a policy is being drafted to strengthen oversight in the regional
offices. The revised policy likely will include a two-person review, in which
an employee will initial and date a document slated for shredding, give it to
his or her supervisor for review, and only then destroy it.
Some in the veterans community are urging more oversight. Rep. Bob Filner, head of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, recently announced that he will hold a hearing on the issue the week of November 17.
Veterans are urged to call their service officers or the VA itself if they have any reason to think their claims file is incomplete, particularly if they have not received a letter of acknowledgement for the submission of a claim after 30 days or if the VA's list of documents received seems incomplete.
"We can't tolerate even one veteran's piece of paper being missing," Dunne says. "We're taking action to make sure it doesn't happen again."
My Response is below:
Id like to think my missing records were among those found going into the
shredder; however, with my personal case going back to VA problems 33 years
ago, I'm afraid they have long since gone into a landfill. Since returning from Nam in OCT. of 1966, I've encountered various illnesses and anomalies that no one else in my family or friends group has. In March of '75 I entered the VA Portland, OR hospital and was severely injured by a male med student, more interested in showing off than following orders. "I'll be right back, don't touch anything." said the doctor, after dong a myelogram where dye is injected into the spinal column. A fellow physician had asked for a short conference on another patient in the hallway outside the room. As soon as she was out the door, this young, upstart doctor inserted the needle in my spine and penetrated the sciatic nerve rather than the canal where the dye was located. As a result of this "accident", I spent ten months there learning to walk again, amongst other complications like getting active TB five months after my admission. Sciatica problems continue today. Doctors in '85 said they'd done all they could and I should file a claim. Ten years worth of medical records disappeared immediately. It took another 21 years of CLAIM DENIED letters from them to gain my first hearing. Along with witnesses of my stay there in '75, a few pages of VA records obtained by my Cong Peter DeFazio, and testimony to their claims rep and two tape recorders, I foolishly thought I'd win. Two months later I was told by that same rep that they'd "FUBARD me". She apologized that both tape recorders had failed to record!? A new hearing would be requested immediatetly. Three days short of a year later, my 2nd hearing was held. Their representative had never held a meeting before, had no clue about operation of the recorders,and was greatly intimidated by the seven witnesses I brought, and our eight tape recorders. Again, my claim was denied because I, the Veteran / Patient, had failed to supply the necessary documentation to substantiate my claim. Over 33 years now since the original injury, and my paths have crossed with countless other Vets facing similar and worse personal issues. Many of them have since died, unable to support their families, or deal with the constant rejections and brush off from the government they willingly served. Am I cynical that the VA cares about any of us...? You Bet!
Don Anderson ~Lebanon, Oregon
A talk by Carolyn Heggen, Ph.D, is scheduled for November 19, at 4:00 pm.,in Albany. The location is the Linn County Extension Building, Miller Room, 104 4th Street SW. The talk will address the special needs of returning veterans and how communities can best support them as they make the transition from battle zone to home zone.
Carolyn, a psychotherapist, is considered an expert on the trauma of war. She is the Program Director for Transforming The Wounds of War, based in Virginia.
This talk is sponsored by LBCC Institute for Peace and Justice, Veterans For Peace Chapter 133 and Albany Peace Seekers.
Is there a web address or such to RSVP for this? I would love to go to this.
Telephone numbers for vets' use if they want to contact the VA in Portland:
The VA enrolment office - Peter Terri 503 220 8262, ext. 55155
Program manager for returnees from Iraq: Victoria Koehler, 503 220 8262, ext. 57044
Mental health access clinic: Jo Smith 503 220 8262, ext. 55058
Veteran crisis line 1-800 273 TALK (8255)
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