Thursday, September 11, 2008

Obama talks about Montana National Guard at Columbia University

Columbia University Presidential Forum
LIVE VIDEO: Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain make a joint appearance at Columbia University to discuss civic engagement in the post 9/11 world.

At about half way through Senator Obama's question and answer session, he brings up the Montana National Guard and their PTSD program. I know I must be boring some readers with this but it is one of the best programs in the country.

Obama promises to repeat Montana's National Guard PTSD work nation wide
Obama Pledges Nationwide Use of PTSD Program

Eric Newhouse

Great Falls Tribune

Aug 28, 2008 - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama promised Wednesday to expand Montana's pilot program to assess the mental health of combat vets nationwide, if elected.The Montana National Guard has developed a program to check its soldiers and airmen for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder every six months for the first two years after returning from combat, then once a year thereafter. The program exceeds national standards set by the U.S. Department of Defense.The pilot program was created in response to the suicide of former Army Spc. Chris Dana of Helena, who shot himself on March 4, 2007, days after being given a less-than-honorable discharge because he could no longer handle attending drills following a tour in Iraq.

"He (Obama) told me he understood why we need to have additional screenings for PTSD," said Matt Kuntz, Dana's stepbrother, who was among a small group invited to meet with Obama on Wednesday in Billings. "And he told me when he is elected president, he will implement Montana's pilot program nationwide."Kuntz, who recently gave up his job as a lawyer in Helena to advocate for the mentally ill and their families, said he was invited to brief Obama on how Montana had become a national model for assessing the mental health of its combat vets.

click above for more

I've done a lot of posts on the Montana National Guards program.

The other point Senator Obama made, aside from how good this program is, is that Chris Dana's brother gave up his career to take on the cause of PTSD suicides and do something about it. Obama said that he never asked Matt if he was a Democrat or a Republican and he didn't care. All he cared about was that there was a need and Matt stepped up to fill that need.

Now, wouldn't it be great if we all managed to do that?

I am very grateful to Obama for going to Montana to talk to the family of Chris Dana and find out what kind of great work can be done. I was really excited when I read about this knowing that his attention would lead to national attention on this. Now, with this national spotlight on him tonight on MSNBC, I'm sure there will be.

Senior Chaplain Kathie Costos

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

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