Panel 3 - Taking Care of Our Veterans
Matt Bernard - American Soldier from A Soldier's Life
TSO - American Legion
Pete Hegseth - Vets for Freedom
Genevieve Chase - American Women Veterans
Morderator - McQ of Q&O and Blackfive
McQ is discussing the state of medical treatment off the battlefield and how great it is now. PTSD/TBI and the needs of those injuries. Are we geared to take care of that in the long haul?
Matt: twice injured in Ramadi in 2006 and returned home. Sent back to New Hampshire while still in recovery and dealing with PTSD. Went up to the state HQ and talked to the leadership there and briefed them with regard to their failures treating veterans. In 6 months, a program was implemented to take care of returning veterans.
Genevieve: testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Cmte. Trying to raise awareness, fine tune vision statement, etc. Want to raise awareness about women veterans. Want to continue the tradition to take care of the generations to come.
Pete: VFF focuses on the mission side of things: what's actually happening on the battle field and shaping the public's perception of our veterans. The most pressing issue is winning our wars. Will we be given the time, the resources necessary to win the wars? That should be the focus.
TSO - thinks we CAN win in Afghanistan. Important to realize limitations but victory is possible. Believes in getting the message out but it doesn't have to be PollyAnna-ish.
Question: WRT PTSD, what about the cultural fear that surrounds seeking help for mental health issues?
MB: people look at you as weak if PTSD is an issue. Most won't seek out help. You have to gain the proper tools to help yourself. If you don't know how to help yourself, you don't know how to help your fellow soldier.
GC: clearance is a big issue, still. Personally, we tend to take care of our soldiers better than we take care of ourselves. A lot of times she has to ask "If I were my soldier, how would I tell them to deal with this issue?" So far, that's the best she's come up with.
Question: There's a difference between PTS and PTSD. The "D" makes the difference. Society can't discuss it without throwing on that last letter.
Pete: there are 2 tracks on this: Inside the military, inside the VA, etc. Thinks that doing PSAs on PTSD, it undermines the vets and the public's perception of them. No need to scare the public with PSAs.
Question: Is the MSM perpetuating the myth of the crazed veteran by highlighting those that need help as a way to get them help? If so, how do we go about GETTING them help?
TSO - Stop reading the NYT.
GC - communityofveterans.org only for vets of Iraq and Afghanistan
TSO - WHY has it taken this long to beef up our mental health professionals? Because that is how the VA works. It's a train wreck.
Question: Data vs. anecdotal evidence? Does the AE contribute to the perception of PTSD? IS there a way to reform this? Is there a way for blogs to be more constructive?
Pete - a lot of blogs ARE trying to help. I.e. Someone You Should Know - highlighting those that have succeeded. Get both sides, emphasize stats
MB - realize that stats can be skewed
Question: Isn't PTS/PTSD a family issue?
MB - it does start with the family support channel - your spouse is your first line of defense. they need to be properly educated on warning signs and tools.
Question: After you get to the problems/solutions, how do you suggest we involve the public?