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News stories tagged with "veterans"

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

PTSD at Ft. Drum, pt.2: A soldier speaks out

If you hear one complaint from soldiers about how the Army handles post-traumatic stress disorder, it's about a bureaucracy that doesn't seem to care. The military officially recognized PTSD as a medical illness almost 30 years ago. Yet soldiers still complain of not getting the help they need. Mountains of paperwork, a backlog of claims, a shortage of licensed psychologists, and a dearth of scientific research all get in the way. In part two of our series on treating PTSD at Fort Drum, David Sommerstein has the story of one soldier who says Fort Drum's mental health system failed him again and again.

CORRECTION TO ORIGINAL STORY: This story first reported that the military requires three letters from commanders documenting that a soldier was in a traumatic combat situation. A Fort Drum spokesman e-mailed to say that one letter is required. The audio has been changed accordingly.  Go to full article

Rural America shoulders the burden of war

On Veterans Day, small towns across the North Country honored their soldiers, especially those soldiers who've died in America's wars. There is fresh evidence this week that rural Americans are paying a disproportionately heavy price in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A new study found, when adjusted for population, rural Vermont's sacrifice has been nearly three times higher than the average urban community. According to the Associated Press, 26 Vermonters have died so far in the two wars. William O'Hare compiled the fact sheet on small town soldiers. He's a visiting scholar at the Carsey Institute, a think-tank based at the University of New Hampshire that looks at rural issues.  Go to full article
Jim Goodwin, age 97, taught a generation of military climbers
Jim Goodwin, age 97, taught a generation of military climbers

Memories: Adirondack mountaineer fights with 10th Mtn. in Italy

The 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum has one of the most storied histories of any unit in the U.S. Army. During the Italian campaign of World War II, the 10th's soldiers were famous for scaling cliffs to attack German positions that had been viewed as impregnable. Jim Goodwin, from Keene Valley, grew up climbing and skiing in the Adirondacks and in the 1940s he was one of the pioneers of American mountaineering. When the 10th Mountain Division was being formed, Goodwin was recruited to help train the soldiers. He later served with the unit as a medic during the fighting in northern Italy. Goodwin is ninety-seven years old now, a retired schoolteacher. He sat down with Brian Mann to talk about his experience at war.  Go to full article

Clinton: help for Iraq's "signature wound"

New York Senator and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton travels to Fort Drum this afternoon. The Democrat will meet privately with 10th Mountain Division commanders and a group of soldiers. The visit will cap a day of appearances at VA Hospitals in Syracuse and Canandaigua. Clinton is promoting a package of bills aimed at improving health care for veterans. The proposal is co-sponsored by Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. It would work to improve detection and treatment of traumatic brain injuries, which Clinton calls "the signature wound" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would help train caregivers. And it would make it easier for wounded soldiers to collect disability benefits. David Sommerstein spoke with Senator Clinton on her cell phone yesterday. She says treating post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other mental illnesses is most difficult in rural areas like the North Country.  Go to full article

McHugh: cut red tape from veteran health care

Revelations of grim conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are bringing intense focus on the health care system for veterans. President Bush planned to do some damage control today by visiting Walter Reed. He'll talk to veterans and hospital staff, trying to reassure them the government is doing something following the scandal over shoddy treatment of wounded soldiers. Yesterday, the House passed a $2.9 trillion budget resolution. Among other things, it provides $3.5 billion more for veterans' care than the president's budget. It rejects the administration plan to raise premiums for the military's health plan, called Tricare. Congressman John McHugh, a Republican, voted against the Democratic resolution. He also voted against the Republicans' own budget resolution, which reflected the Bush Administration's plan to cut funding for military treatment facilities. In comments during a House Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing this week, McHugh said these are "most difficult times" for the military health system. Better technology has meant more soldiers survive severe wounds, like traumatic brain injuries. But that means veterans' hospitals will have to care for these soldiers their whole lives. On Wednesday, the congressman told David Sommerstein that the biggest problem facing the system is red tape.  Go to full article
Newly unveiled Veteran's Memorial at Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre, Ottawa.
Newly unveiled Veteran's Memorial at Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre, Ottawa.

Canadian vets talk about their wars, and this one

November 11th goes by different names. The former Armistice Day has become Veteran's Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada. For at least a week before hand, many Canadians won't leave home without pinning on a small plastic flower. School children still recite "In Flanders Field," hurriedly written in 1915 by a weary field doctor. Canadian John McCrea's poem immortalized the common red poppy, which sprang up across battle fields and graveyards in the wishfully-named "War to End All Wars." In this atmosphere, correspondent Lucy Martin wondered what older Canadian war veterans might be thinking about Canada's current campaign in Afghanistan. She caught up with some during a recent ceremony at an Ottawa Veteran's Home.  Go to full article

Film Calls for Depleted Uranium Study

The group North Country Veterans for Peace is showing a movie tonight in Potsdam about the military's use of depleted uranium (a heavy metal used in ammunition) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the first Gulf War, veterans groups have argued the weakly radioactive chemical has caused a range of illnesses in thousands of soldiers. The Pentagon says the substance does not make people sick. New York's legislature has taken up a bill that would help National Guard soldiers get tested for exposure to depleted uranium from military service. And it would encourage more research on the subject. Similar bills have passed in Connecticut and Louisiana. Miles Manchester is a member of North Country Veterans for Peace.  Go to full article

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