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News stories tagged with "veterans"

Facing rising soldier suicide rate, vet groups call for more mental health help

Last week, the U.S. Army announced 2008 saw the highest soldier suicide rate on record. Now, the news is even worse. The Army believes 24 more soldiers committed suicide just last month, six times the number from January 2008. One Army official told CNN, "this is terrifying, we do not know what's going on." Inside the Army and out, experts agree back-to-back deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are taking a devastating toll on mental health among soldiers. The Army has been trying to catch up on treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Tom Tarantino says it's still not enough. Tarantino is an Iraq veteran and is a policy associate for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The group was lobbying Capitol Hill last week for more mental health care for veterans. Tarantino told David Sommerstein there is still a stubborn stigma among soldiers attached with seeking help.  Go to full article
Marine Staff Sgt. Todd Bowers. Photo: IAVA
Marine Staff Sgt. Todd Bowers. Photo: IAVA

A Fresh Start on Veterans' Care: "we need 'ground truth'"

There are approximately 1.7 million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The largest group that represents them says President-Elect Barack Obama needs to listen to the "boots-on-the-ground" truth about veterans' health care. We continue "A Fresh Start," our series of recommendations for the Obama Adminsitration, with Todd Bowers of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He's also a marine staff sergeant who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Bowers told David Sommerstein Congress has made hundreds of recommendations to better help veterans since the neglect scandal at Walter Reed almost two years ago. But he says most of those are gathering dust on shelves. He says the Obama Administration must implement them.  Go to full article

Brain injury clinic comes to Carthage

A new clinic to treat people who have suffered brain injuries is opening in Carthage. The center will feature a promising new therapy for accident and stroke victims. It may also serve veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with brain trauma. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Canada remembers fallen soldiers

Canada's Remembrance Day begins as crowds gather in Ottawa's downtown. Tens of thousands - of all ages - and nearly everyone wearing a bright red poppy. It's a somber occasion. Motorcades bring dignitaries: the Canadian Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Silver Cross Mother and more. There are no speeches from the politicians - just music, gun salutes, a prayer later on. The Air Force fly-over. And long rounds of applause as a shrinking parade of war veterans marches by. Lucy Martin paid her respects and sent in this audio montage from Canada's War Memorial in Ottawa.  Go to full article

Anti-war group kicks off national tour in Watertown

An anti-war group is kicking off a national tour of Army bases this weekend in Watertown. Concerts tomorrow and a Sunday barbecue are the main events, but organizers say this tour is meant to help soldiers navigate the federal government's health care system. Members of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War say they're starting their tour of U.S. Army bases near Fort Drum because it's home to the 10th Mountain Division, the most deployed unit in the U.S. Army. Kristofer Goldsmith is one of the organizers of this weekend's events. He was a sergeant in the 3rd Infantry Division. After his tour of duty in Iraq he joined the anti-war group. He spoke with Jonathan Brown about the "State of the Union" base tour. Goldsmith says the name reflects the Iraq War's stature, particularly among soldiers, as the biggest problem with the state of the union.  Go to full article

Preview: ?Welcome Home Jenny Sutter?

Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake offers a new play this summer that explores war, recovery, acceptance and hope. "Welcome Home Jenny Sutter" opens next Tuesday night and continues through the end of August. Jenny Sutter is home from Iraq. She's a 30-year-old Marine, minus her lower right leg, with a mind filled with horrific memories. The play's been called a tender, funny and important story of a female veteran struggling to return to civilian life. Todd Moe talks with director Anita Montgomery and Fiona Christie, who portrays Jenny Sutter.  Go to full article

Vet group faults Drum mental health services

A veterans group says the Army is still failing to provide 10th Mountain Division soldiers with adequate mental health services at Fort Drum more than six years after the start of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report, titled "Fort Drum: A Great Burden, Inadequate Assistance." is from the Washington, D.C.-based Veterans for America. It cites under-staffing, reliance on questionnaires to identify soldiers who need treatment, and leadership's indifference to soldiers' claims of post traumatic stress disorder. The report also said repeated, lengthy and unpredictable deployments have taken a toll on all the Army's divisions, but most especially Ft. Drum's 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams. The report says some soldiers wait up to two months before a first appointment. It concludes that care for returning soldiers at Fort Drum is woefully inadequate.

Veterans for America, formerly known as Vietnam Veterans of America, was founded by former Marine Bobby Muller. According to Sen. Hillary Clinton, the group based the report on interviews with a dozen Fort Drum soldiers and mental health providers. Clinton said the problem must be addressed urgently. In a statement, she said she's looking forward to "the cooperation and support of the Army in this process." Army officials at Ft. Drum had no immediate comment on the report.  Go to full article

Army Surgeon General says VA may help disability paperwork

There's another development in the story of VA help for Ft. Drum soldiers who are filing disability claims. Last week, NPR reporter Ari Shapiro reported the Army had told Veterans Administration counselors last year not to help soldiers with paperwork that determines the scope of benefits they receive after discharge. In later stories the Army surgeon general denied the Army had interfered. Last evening and this morning, NPR reports the Army Surgeon General says there was a misunderstanding. He told NPR he was mistaken when he denied the Army had told the VA not to help injured soldiers at Fort Drum challenge their disability ratings.

Eric Schoomaker says the VA assistance is fine with him. In fact, he said, the VA counselors practices at Ft. Drum were among the best the Army has seen. And he told NPR soldiers who feel they were "disadvantaged" by the change of practice should speak out. You can hear Ari Shapiro's story at the link below.  Go to full article
Tom and Nellie Coakley with Tom Brokaw
Tom and Nellie Coakley with Tom Brokaw

Canton couple remembers Vietnam

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the socially and politically significant year, 1968. Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw's latest book, Boom! - Voices of the '60s, explores the pivotal events of the 1960s. A Canton couple is among the Vietnam veterans profiled in the book. In a moving chapter, Tom and Nellie Coakley talk about their experiences in Vietnam and how the war changed their lives. The Coakleys met at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital while Tom was recovering from battle injuries and Nellie was a nurse. Nellie told Todd Moe she'd always wanted to be an army nurse and volunteered to go to Vietnam.  Go to full article

PTSD, Pt.4: A war trauma counselor

This week we've been reporting on the struggles of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in getting help with combat trauma. Today we get a window inside their world from one of the North Country's most respected experts. Nellie Coakley is a Vietnam veteran. She relies on her own experience in her work as a war trauma counselor. She's worked out the region's Vet Center since the 1980s. Vet Centers were created to give an alternative to Vietnam vets who didn't trust the standard VA channels. Coakley counsels an increasing number of Iraq and Afghanistan vets, and she sees a similar mistrust. She says the American public needs to do more to understand post-traumatic stress disorder and help veterans re-enter society. The trouble is, soldiers coming home with PTSD find they can't leave their warrior training behind. For them, Coakley told David Sommerstein, combat is life-changing.  Go to full article

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