Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stunning Statement From VA Sec. Peake At Walla Walla

Secretary of VA Visits Walla Walla
By Chelsea Kopta

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James Peake speaks before a crowd at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center. It was Peake's first formal visit to any VA hospital in the region.

Published: Feb 19, 2008 at 7:40 PM PST

WALLA WALLA -- The man responsible for the nation's veterans is now promising to help our local vets.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. James Peake toured the Walla Walla medical center Tuesday.

It was Peake's first official visit to any VA hospitals since he was sworn in exactly two months ago to the day.

At his confirmation hearing in Washington D.C., Senator Patty Murray invited Peake to visit the local VA center in Walla Walla.

"We need to make sure that we keep learning about it because I'm not sure that that fresh PTSD is exactly the same as dealing with people from my generation," he said.

"The veterans coming back from Iraq and the Middle East situation are over-burdened with the number of tours that they've encountered," local veteran Toby Armijo said. "Yes, they are definitely going to need benefits."

go here for the rest

Nothing against Peake because given what we got from Nicholson, he's a breath of fresh air. The problem is, he's the head of the VA and doesn't seem to know enough about PTSD. He's a Vietnam veteran. You'd think he would know all about PTSD but with the statement he made, it caused an alarm bell in my brain to go off.

Redeployments increase the risk of developing PTSD by 50% according to an Army report. This is the only difference between Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan. PTSD strikes 1 out of 3 exposed to the same event. With combat there are events almost everyday. The difference is not in PTSD itself but in the number of people re-exposed to traumatic events.

While Vietnam was more jungle warfare for the most part, Iraq is more urban with condescend populations. There are more people involved in these attacks between citizens and soldiers. They are witnessing a lot more horrific events on a larger scale. I truly believe this is why we are seeing so many already with deep wound PTSD. It also involves more awareness of what PTSD is.

Who can say how many Vietnam veterans could have been saved the ravages of PTSD claiming their lives from suicide had the PC been in use back then? Who can say how many would have sought treatment if the ability to develop educational videos for them existed? The media has been helping out a great deal in brining this dark secret into the awareness of the public, not just in America, but across the world. Today we are seeing hopeful signs the stigma of PTSD is eroding, the investment in research increasing and people filling the need to have support groups but there is so much more work to be done.

25 years ago, I wouldn't have thought that I would be doing this work or to the point where I can't keep up with all the news even though it's a 12 hour a day/7 days a week vocation. In all the hope I want to offer that it is possible for marriages to be saved, the numbers of homeless veterans can be decreased and veterans can heal to the point where they begin to live productive lives once more, I am compelled to caution all that unless we get caught up really fast on the demand for help, we will go from overwhelmed to beyond control. We are fast approaching that point.

The Congress can provide funds to build all the hospitals and clinics they want but that does not take care of the need today. We need veteran's centers in every city of this nation. We especially need them in rural areas of the nation where help is just too far away. We need more suicide hotlines that are not telling suicidal veterans to call back because it's the weekend. We need more support groups for them and their families. We need advocates to be put to use with the expertise to provide their knowledge to the general public on a grand scale. The DOD and the VA, as well as service organizations avoid using citizen experts instead of relying on their research.

I know people in the DAV and other service organizations who ignore me and my work, as well as the thousands of others just like me around the country, instead of using us today. Is it because they view us as competition? Is it because they doubt our work? They would be wrong on both counts. Our work has been based on decades of research from experts, as well as the fact most of us live with it on a daily basis. As for the competition thought, they do not understand our role is not to take their place but to enable more to use their services.

Our job is to provide the education and awareness of what PTSD is and then rely on the DAV and other service organizations to provide the assistance with their claims. If nothing else, our work could increase the demand for their services and increase their memberships because they would be providing a service in great need. The veterans want to know all their needs are taken with the same kind of interest as their membership is. Most members of these organizations in leadership positions are not aware of what PTSD is and they cannot provide the knowledge we have already in hand. They can no longer ignore us if they are going to be able to live up to claim they are there for the veterans.

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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