Showing posts with label Department of Veterans Services. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Department of Veterans Services. Show all posts

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Vietnam veteran needed help, got bad paper discharge in return for service

A Vietnam veteran needed help. The government gave him a “bad paper” discharge instead

McClatchy News
JULY 25, 2019
“What person in their right mind would serve the country honorably and then come back and go AWOL? I had to have been nuts.” Charles Smith

When Charles Smith came home after two years in Vietnam during one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict, he was a traumatized 21-year-old who needed help.

But all he could think about in 1969 was getting away from the military and “drinking myself to death.”

Smith — now 70 years old and living in Conway, S.C. — displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, a condition that wasn’t formally recognized by the U.S. medical community until 1980. He dealt with his pain by going Absent Without Leave, or AWOL.

That action affected the rest of his life.

He received an “undesirable” discharge in 1971, which at the time was a subcategory of “less than honorable.” Smith’s mental state and his exposure to combat weren’t part of the evaluation.

That became a double injury, because the designation meant Smith would not be eligible to get medical or mental health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or any financial benefits like disability payments, housing loans and education.

He is among tens of thousands of veterans who have experienced that same type of military separation, even though they are often among the troops who need care the most. Veterans believe many of these discharges are undeserved and call them “bad paper.”

“It’s taking time. That’s more suffering mentally, physically and spiritually, really, because you still will continue to drink or use drugs or whatever you want to escape,” he continued. “And most folks get discouraged, because they’re taking ‘No’ for an answer.”
read it here

Thursday, February 28, 2019

West Palm Beach VA Doctor Shot by Double Amputee


'Heroic' doctor subdues gunman at veterans hospital, authorities say

The gunman was identified as 59-year-old Larry Ray Bon.
By Morgan Winsor
February 28, 2019

A doctor is being hailed a hero for stopping a patient who opened fire in the emergency room of a veterans hospital in South Florida on Wednesday night.

The patient, a double-amputee, came to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach for treatment but became combative with staff members and was taken to the emergency room. He pulled out a small handgun from his electric wheelchair and started firing as he was about to undergo a mental health evaluation around 6:20 p.m. local time.

The doctor was shot in the neck, and another hospital employee was grazed by a bullet, according to Justin Fleck, assistant special agent in charge at the FBI's Miami field office.

The wounded doctor, whom Fleck called "very brave," was able to jump on the patient in between fired rounds and disarm him before more shots were fired.

read more here

Doctor shot at VA hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida

Published: February 27, 2019

WASHINGTON – An employee was shot Wednesday evening at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla., the VA confirmed.
An emergency room doctor was shot in the neck by a double amputee in a wheelchair, according to local news station CBS12. A hospital tech was in the restroom with the shooter and saw him loading a weapon, the report said. When the tech went to seek help, the shooter came out of the restroom firing.

The VA Sunshine Healthcare Network confirmed in a statement that one VA employee was shot at about 6:20 p.m. The employee was taken to another hospital and was in stable condition Wednesday night.
read more here

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Family Wants Change After Vietnam Veteran Committed Suicide At Bay Pines VA

Veteran suicide epidemic: Family members call for action
Phil Buck
November 11, 2016
“There’s still so much going on over there, there are so many young kids coming back that are in the same position. This is going to continue unless they change that whole system.” Linda Aurin
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WTSP) – Thousands of veterans have gone to the VA medical center at Bay Pines in Florida for various types of health care. On August 25th, 2015, former U.S. Marine Gerhard Reitmann, a Vietnam War veteran, went to Bay Pines for a different reason.

That morning Gerhard called his brother Stephen, then went to a parking lot on the Bay Pines campus and shot himself. After years of living with post-traumatic stress from his tours in Vietnam, Gerhard Reitmann decided he could not endure another day.

“That’s one of the biggest reasons why he did it at the V.A.,” said Stephen Reitmann more than a year after his brother’s suicide. “He wanted to show ‘you’re not taking care of me’.”

Now having had time to reflect and go over the final years of his brother’s life in hindsight, Stephen and his partner Linda Aurin saw the warning signs were there.

“You could see what he was thinking by seeing all these little tidbits,” said Stephen, describing what he found in Gerhard’s apartment after his suicide. “Little notes here, a bible, and you put it all together and you go ‘oh, this is how you’re supposed to feel when you’re committing suicide’.”

“We could have helped him and because of who he is, he didn’t ask. And that’s the horrible part about suicide,” said Aurin. “The last time we stopped in and saw him we noticed that he had newspapers covering his walls, all his blinds were closed because he was very paranoid, he was asking us did we want to take stuff. At that point we didn’t realize but that was pretty close to when it happened.”
read more here

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Members of Congress Actually Paid Attention to Veterans on Medical Marijuana?

I have talked to VA doctors across the country for years and they say they want to be able to give veterans medical marijuana but their hands are tied because as Federal Employees, they have to obey federal law. Most want the ability to base medical care based on the veteran in front of them as it should be.

There is no "one size fits all" in treating veterans but even within standard practices, there are many choices on programs doctors can suggest like service dogs, physical activity, different types of therapy and a long list of drugs they can give. 

This is one more weapon to help veterans fight the wounds of their bodies and minds. We know that there have been too many debilitating side effects to most of the other medications they are able to write scripts for and veterans find things get worse on many of them. It is refreshing to know that some members of Congress have actually heard them.
Congress pushes VA to recommend pot for patients
The Denver Post
By Mark Matthews
POSTED: 05/21/2016

"Veterans whose doctors believe that medical marijuana will help them address medical issues such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or chronic pain should be afforded that option," U.S. Rep. Jared Polis
WASHINGTON — In two separate actions, the U.S. House and Senate this week moved to make it easier for military veterans to access medical marijuana — efforts that were largely, but not unanimously, supported by Colorado's congressional delegation.

The first step was a House vote Thursday on an amendment to a budget bill for the VA and military construction that would allow doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend pot as treatment to veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal, which is roughly half the country.

The Senate took a similar approach in its own version of the spending measure by neutering a VA policy that had prohibited this practice.

Both measures easily passed their respective chambers.

The House approved the marijuana amendment by a 233-189 vote and the Senate on Thursday passed its spending measure, in which the pot policy change was included, by an 89-8 margin.

Five of Colorado's seven lawmakers in the House supported the amendment, including U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, who co-authored the provision.

Another supporter of the House amendment was veteran and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora.

He said in a phone interview that the marijuana provision wasn't an easy vote but — given the number of combat veterans dealing with PTSD — that he's willing to give it a try.

"I tend to be more open on alternative therapies," he said.
read more here

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Veterans Choice Would Be To Get Help They Were Promised

Denial is not a state veterans can afford to live in but that is exactly what is happening all over the country. Congress denies they are actually responsible for all this. Charities deny they have not made enough of a difference considering "new veterans charities has increased relatively rapidly over the past five years or so, growing by 41% since 2008." The DOD has denied they have ended up doing the same thing when we still using failed programs actually feeding the stigma while blocking real awareness of what PTSD is, why they have it and how they can heal. Once all that gets out of the way and the veterans actually try to go for help, this is what they face. So veterans cannot afford to go on waiting while the lose their lives after war.
In rural areas, vets still go without mental health care
One well-intentioned effort has failed
San Antonio Express News
By Martin Kuz, Staff Writer
September 19, 2015

Sabastian Vasquez survived three combat tours to Iraq in as many years. Then he entered another fight, unseen and unrelenting, to subdue the predatory memories of war.

A decade after his honorable discharge from the Marines, Vasquez remains plagued by post-traumatic stress disorder and the residual effects of a traumatic brain injury. In dark moments, he feels as if his mind has turned against him, holding him captive from his true self.

Earlier this year, he drove from his house in Tivoli to the nearest Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic, 35 miles away in Victoria. He inquired about counseling and discovered that one-on-one sessions were not offered. For individual therapy, he would need to travel to a VA facility in San Antonio, 150 miles from home and a five-hour round trip.

“It’s no wonder we have so many veterans offing themselves,” said Vasquez, 32, who grew up in Tivoli, an unincorporated town of fewer than 500 residents not far from Hynes Bay on the Gulf Coast. “You get kind of hopeless when you hit all these obstacles.”

Vasquez occupies a state of limbo with thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in rural areas of Texas and across the country who struggle to receive behavioral health treatment. Their plight persists almost a year after the VA launched the so-called Choice Card initiative to improve access to medical services for veterans living outside urban centers.
Veterans and behavioral health advocates in South Texas, blaming factors within and beyond the VA’s control, regard the Choice Card program as a well-intentioned illusion. Less abstract is the deepening demand for treatment among those sent to fight in two faraway lands who came back to America trapped inside a war of their own.

“The card isn’t having any effect for vets with mental health problems,” said Gabriel Lopez, president of the South Texas Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Association, based in Laredo. “It’s not filling the need, and the need is huge.”
The VA hired 3,600 clinicians after federal lawmakers pilloried the agency three years ago over prolonged wait times for mental health care. Similarly, officials announced plans last summer to add 2,700 providers in response to Congress passing the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which established the Choice Card.

Yet a report in August from the VA Inspector General shows the system continues to suffer from a shortage of clinicians compounded by chronic inefficiency.

The report examined access to psychiatrists throughout the VA network. During a two-year period starting in 2012, the VA added 226 psychiatrists to provide outpatient care, boosting its total to almost 1,800 psychiatrists in that role. (Another 1,000 psychiatrists focus on inpatient care and related duties.)

In contrast to that 15 percent increase, the number of veterans who received outpatient psychiatric care over the same span grew by less than 9 percent, from 799,000 to 869,000.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sen. Joni Ernst Still Waiting For Answers From VA After Veteran's Suicide

Ernst rips VA for slow response to D.M. vet's suicide
Des Moines Register
Tony Leys
June 3, 2015

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst blasted the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday for taking too long in determining whether a Des Moines veteran obtained appropriate care before he committed suicide.

Richard Miles, 41, was found frozen to death in Waterworks Park on Feb. 20. Friends said the Iraq War veteran suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and had gone to Des Moines' VA hospital on Feb. 15 for help. Instead of being offered in-patient treatment, he was given medication and was told he would receive an appointment with a psychiatrist later, friends said.

Ernst formally requested an investigation by the VA inspector general a few days after Miles' death. She told reporters Wednesday that she was originally told she'd get a response by April, but she still hasn't received a report. "It is frustrating, disappointing and absolutely unacceptable that this has taken so long," she said.

Ernst said part of the problem could be that the inspector-general's top position is vacant.
read more here

Friday, November 28, 2014

Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services Awarded for Outreach Efforts

Saugus veterans district is honored
Saugus Wicked Local
By Jessica Sacco
Posted Nov. 28, 2014

“For us being young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in our 20s and 30s, we’re making our generation of veterans proud, too.” Andy Biggio

Ryan McLane, district director of veteran services for Melrose, Wakefield and Saugus, Andy Biggio, district veteran services officer, and Coleman Nee, Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Services, after the awards ceremony in Leominster.
Courtesy photo

Saugus veterans’ officials were recognized for outstanding services and community outreach by the state. The Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services presented the Melrose, Wakefield and Saugus district with the Veterans’ Services District of the Year award during a ceremony on Oct. 27.

Every year the department hosts an annual training for veteran service officers to update officials on new policies, procedures and benefits. There are currently 201 VSOs throughout the commonwealth and 22 veterans’ services districts.

During the four-day training conference in Leominster, the department issued three awards: Veteran Service Officer of the Year, Veteran Service Officer Administrator of the Year and Veterans’ Services District of the Year.

The latter represents the hard work and dedication by District Director Ryan McLane and District VSO Andy Biggio.

“The Melrose, Wakefield and Saugus Veterans’ Service District has done a tremendous job of improving outreach and access to state, federal and other benefits for veterans and their families and are a perfect example for what communities can accomplish under a district model,” Coleman Nee, Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services said in a statement. “I congratulate Ryan and Andy on behalf of the Department and the veterans in their communities.”

Nee created the Veterans’ Services District of the Year award in 2011, after he released official guidelines on the process for establishing veteran districts.
read more here

Monday, July 7, 2014

VA takes action after Marine's 5 years of waiting for help

None of this is new. This report is about a veterans from the new generation but it has been going on for generations. It is harsh but it is real. That is the worst part of all since the veteran community knows how long it has gone on. The Marine veteran is just like the rest of the veterans in that he blames Congress for how the country failed him after his service. He also said he does not regret what he did for us.
As politicians in Washington wring their hands over the Veterans Affairs scandal, VICE News travels to Portland, Oregon, to see what it's all really about. We meet Curtis Shanley, a former Marine Corps machine-gunner, who has spent the past five years wading through red tape to get medical attention for a crippling injury he suffered while serving his country in Iraq.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Veterans Moving Forward Even Behind Bars

Some of my friends are better than I am because they have prison ministries, healing souls behind bars but you never hear about the wonderful work they do. If it doesn't make sense to you that veterans are different from the rest of us, then you must not know too many of them. If you think they should be forgotten about since they are locked up, you must have forgotten what Christ said.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Matthew 25
Most of these veterans came home with PTSD and self-medicated to numb the pain they felt. The fact is most veterans do not seek help from the government even after all these years. Some commit crimes and were unlucky enough to commit them in states without Veterans Courts offering them help instead of jail. Do we forget about them? Do we just leave them alone so they can do their time and not even try to help them?

Veterans Courts are not a "get out of jail free" way out. They are given the connections they need to begin treatment they should have had all along and they are helped to do what the judge says. If they do not do it, they have to serve their time behind bars. Keep in mind that veterans are only 7% of the population.

VA medical centers recognize the value of partnerships with local justice-system and community treatment partners

Many VA medical centers are engaged with partners in their local criminal justice systems. In response to a June 2008 review, more than one third of medical centers (58 of 153) indicated that they either currently engage with local justice system partners to coordinate services for Veterans, or intend to request resources to support such engagement. Currently, the VA participates in 8 Veterans Court programs located in Santa Ana, CA, Buffalo, NY, Anchorage, AK, San Bernardino, CA, Santa Clara, CA, Chicago, IL, Rochester, NY, and Tulsa, OK. Elsewhere, VA medical centers have established relationships with a range of justice system and community partners, including police and sheriffs’ departments, local jail administrators, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, and community mental health providers.

If we did for them when they came home, most wouldn't have ended up behind bars. They commit crimes are were given jail time but that doesn't mean they do not deserve our time and efforts to do the right thing for them.
Vets unite behind bars at Vista jail
Authorities hope they can better rehabilitate service members by housing them together in unit at Vista Jail
UT San Diego
By Pauline Repard
NOV. 16, 2013
A patriotic artwork is displayed on the wall near the telephones in the Vista Jail housing module for military veterans.

Vista — Early this month, 32 veterans in blue jail uniforms filed into a freshly painted, red, white and blue Vista Jail dormitory with walls brightened by patriotic murals.

They dropped their bags of belongings in double-bunk cells, then were officially welcomed to the Veterans Moving Forward program initiated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

By housing the veterans together, authorities hope to encourage camaraderie while helping them kick drug habits, gain job skills, find housing and undergo treatment for mental illness — all factors that could keep them from returning to jail.

“The ultimate goal is transitioning them back to the community,” Sheriff Bill Gore said in an interview.

“Veterans have given so much to this nation.”
read more here

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Is the press reporting or concocting?

Is the press reporting or concocting?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 7, 2013

On November 5 CBS reported "In the VA’s regional office in Waco, which includes coverage for all of North Texas, there are 26,353 veterans waiting to hear about their disability compensation claims. Records show, the average wait in the Waco region is more than 354 days, just shy of one year." But they didn't think too much about pointing out that the level of care our veterans receive depends on where they live. Sorry but it has always been that way.

California has the most veterans 1,844,803, followed by Texas 1,675,689 and Florida 1,543,496 as of September.

Reporters seem to have a habit of taking pieces of news and blending them together to finish and article by word count instead of words that count. We shouldn't have to spend hours checking what they report to be able to know if they are reporting or concocting the news.

I have been reading about Gov. Rick Perry fascinated by what he doesn't say while reporters pick out what words he uses for their articles. What Perry doesn't talk about in his speeches on how much he doesn't want government money for Texas, he did a great job leading government money into Texas.
Defense Contractors in State of Texas
Dollar Amount of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in this State from 2000 to 2012 $390,829,059,645 (not a misprint)
Number of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in this State from 2000 to 2012 278,929
Number of Defense Contractors in this State 16,178
Number of Counties in this State 254

This is even more interesting
Number of Contracts 25,914 worth $37,381,112,703
Number of Contracts 27,994 worth $35,900,626,180
Number of Contracts 30,348 worth $35,415,283,945
Number of Contracts 30,527 worth $28,760,895,955
Number of Contracts 32,305 worth $58,085,712,978
Number of Contracts 33,255 worth $38,805,187,615
Number of Contracts 25,614 worth $35,374,834,787
Number of Contracts 27,196 worth $26,507,277,382
Number of Contracts 14,612 worth $30,162,339,154
Number of Contracts 11,077 worth $27,401,472,302
Number of Contracts 8,474 worth $14,102,453,809
Number of Contracts 5,943 worth $9,935,604,210
Number of Contracts 5,671 worth $12,996,263,625
Then there are the bases and personnel
Major Installations Texas
Fort Bliss
Red River Army Depot
Fort Hood
Sam Houston/Camp Bullis
Ingleside Army Depot
Navy and Marine Corps
Corpus Christi Naval Air Station/Naval Hospital/Naval Station
Kingsville Naval Air Station

Air Force
Randolph AFB
Brooks City Base
Lackland AFB
Sheppard AFB
Air Force Plant 4 (formerly Carswell AFB)
Dyess AFB
Goodfellow AFB
Laughlin AFB

Coast Guard
Corpus Christi
VTS Houston/Galveston
Air Station Corpus Christi
Air Station Houston
Search and Rescue Station Freeport
Search and Rescue Station Port Aransas
Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur
VTS Port Arthur
Marine Safety Unit Texas City

Personnel Totals
Army 60,945
Navy and Marine Corps 6,909
Air Force 40,981
Coast Guard 1,409
Active Duty Military 108,835
Reserve and National Guard 84,721
Total Personnel 194,965

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs as of 9-30-12 Texas had 1,675,689 veterans.

Rick Perry talks a lot about his faith but while he has a right to believe whatever he wants, go to whatever church he wants, he does not have the right to use his power to enforce his faith on anyone. I don't recognize what he says as having much do to with what Jesus said of how He spent His days on earth. Jesus was a healer, so he would approve of people being able to go to a doctor based on need and not bank account balance. Jesus came into the world to be among the poor to give them hope. He wouldn't be slamming them as if it is their fault. He was also homeless, but I guess Perry missed that part of the New Testament or he would have notice Jesus depended on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter.

Jesus wouldn't approve of the death penalty either. Sorry but He was not only a victim of it, He stopped it from happening to a woman being chased through the streets because she committed adultery.
John 8:7 New International Version (NIV)
7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Perry has the right to believe whatever he wants but he does not have the right to enforce what he believes on others especially when what he believes isn't what many others believe.

Matthew 6:24 New International Version (NIV)
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

As with everything else Perry talks about, the truth proves what reality in Texas is and under him, the veterans and their families, since many are on public assistance and food stamps and on government payroll, he forgets what supporting them really means.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

EX-VA employee admits to $1.3 million ripoff

Former Veterans Affairs Employee Admits Fraud, $1.3 Million in Kickbacks
Wall Street Journal
By Michael Calia
September 18, 2013

A former employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday admitted to engaging in a scheme to defraud the department as well as accepting nearly $1.3 million in kickbacks for contracts awarded to companies with which he had relationships, the Justice Department said.

Jarod Machinga, a 43-year-old resident of Hopewell, N.J., pleaded guilty in federal court in Trenton to one count of honest services wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property.

Mr. Machinga has taken responsibility for his actions, said defense counsel Fortunado N. Perri. "He intends to make full restitution, and hopefully this will be the first step toward moving forward with his life," Mr. Perri added.

Mr. Machinga, who worked as a supervisory engineer at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center's West Orange, N.J., campus, worked with a person, identified by the Justice Department as "Individual 1," to set up three companies that could be used to get construction work from the VA.
read more here

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

3.2 Billion heading into veterans care but will it be enough?

U.S. Senate Passes Budget Resolution with Billions More for Veterans
By Kawika Riley, 3/17/2008 8:19:48 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2009 passed the U.S. Senate early this morning. It included an authorization for another historic increase for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, actively advocated for the increase and voted to support final passage. The Budget Resolution includes $3.2 billion above the Administration’s request for veterans’ programs, and will serve as a blueprint as Congress works to draft the Fiscal Year 2009 VA appropriations bill.
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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ron Koontz Vietnam Vet Still Serving Country

Ron Koontz, program coordinator for the state Department of Veterans’ Services, spent 17 months in a military hospital after shrapnel blew off part of his jaw in Vietnam. (Globe Staff Photo / George Rizer)
Guiding veterans with experience won the hard way
Boston Globe - United States
By John Laidler
Globe Correspondent / March 9, 2008
When veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan talk to him about their struggles overcoming the physical and emotional effects of war, Ron Koontz understands.

Koontz, who left his job last month as Amesbury's veterans' services officer to become program coordinator for the state Department of Veterans' Services, knows firsthand the challenges that vets, particularly disabled ones, face in trying to resume normal lives.

Forty years ago, Koontz was serving as a combat infantryman in Vietnam when his platoon's base camp, located west of Saigon near the Cambodian border, came under a nighttime mortar and rocket attack. In the ensuing firefight, shrapnel from an exploding rocket blew off the right side of his jaw.

Koontz spent 17 months in a military hospital in San Francisco. For 13 months, his jaw was wired shut.

Recovering from the wound and rebuilding his life are the experiences Koontz draws on to help other veterans.

"The credibility I bring to the table is that I can identify with some of the issues they bring," he said. "My having been wounded kind of opens up that trust door, so when they come in, they know they are talking to another veteran who has experienced the same trauma they have."

After 15 years of working with veterans at the local level - 10 as Amesbury's veterans' officer and five as a post-traumatic stress disorder counselor at the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill - Koontz is bringing his skills to the statewide level.

In his new job, which he began Feb. 19, Koontz, 61, oversees the Veterans Workforce Investment Program. The federally funded program helps veterans obtain services such as education, job training, and mental health counseling.

The program targets veterans who are disabled, recently discharged, or who have significant barriers to employment. The help comes in the form of direct financial aid, information, and referrals.

"My job is to get these veterans jobs," Koontz said.

While the program has existed for a number of years, the agency is hoping to expand its reach at a time when the number of Massachusetts veterans is growing. Koontz, who was hired to lead that effort, estimates that 30,000 veterans have returned to the state since 2001.

Many are suffering the effects of traumatic brain injuries, which Koontz called "the signature injury" of the Iraq war.

The goal is to assess each veteran, and see that they are "mentally and physically put back together," he said. "Then once we work on those issues, we can start to work on the other issues" needed to land jobs.
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