United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will provide more support to military veterans transitioning to life as civilians. The order is a specific attempt on the part of the president to positively affect suicide rates for veterans.
One in five returning veterans that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been shown to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and are 2-3 times as likely to make an attempt on their own lives that active duty service members.
The President’s order makes the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and Defense all responsible for a workable plan to provide the resources needed to support veterans with treatment for mental health and suicide prevention. The deadline for submitting these plans is 60 days.
The Presidents states that the goal is for veterans to receive a level of care that they “richly deserve.”
The Veterans Administration responded immediately with Secretary David Shulkin promising that the VA will be prepared to provide a full year of mental health to returning service members by the President’s deadline. Shulkin also noted that returning veterans will be able to sign up for these services before returning home from active duty.
The Department of Defense has also expressed that they will have a plan in place but have been much less specific.
The order by the President is another sign that he intends to honor campaign promises to improve services available to veterans and to be a catalyst for improving the crisis-ridden VA.
It is always refreshing to read some positive, heart-warming news on the Internet. A recent news story from U.S. News & World Report tells of a disabled Vietnam veteran whose life was transformed by being introduced to a guide dog.
After becoming a double amputee in the Vietnam War in 1970, former Marine Bob Calderon experienced a host of obstacles, but also became quite accomplished in several different fields.
Showing that he wouldn’t be stopped by his disability, Bob Calderon learned to walk on prosthetic limbs and went to school to learn drafting. Although he consistently dealt with pain from his injuries, Mr. Calderon worked as a mechanical draftsman, was married several times and fathered two children.
Additionally, Bob Calderon played wheelchair basketball, became a champion nine-ball billiards champion and participated in wheelchair bowling. Because of prolonged pain from the prosthetic limbs, however, he switched to a wheelchair, which he still utilizes today.
An important factor in Mr. Calderon’s life has been his attendance at a veterans’ peer-support group, where he was able to start the process of acquiring a guide dog.
Ever since he received his guide dog, Mae, Bob Calderon’s life has improved in many ways. Mae can do all sorts of basic commands, as well as open doors and even pull Mr. Calderon’s lightweight wheelchair in a crisis situation.
Another very important thing that Mae has done for Bob Calderon is allow him to be able to give and receive love again, which is a beautiful thing.
According to an article recently published by The Huffington Post, President Donald Trump is due to have his annual physical on Friday, January 12th. The question is, will be have the recommended screening for cognitive impairment?
Thus far, the only information America has received about Trump’s state of health was that which was provided by his doctor, Harold Bornstein, in 2016. Bornstein has been Trump’s personal doctor for substantial period of time, and stated that Trump was in “excellent physical health”.
However, in the opinion of Brandy Lee who is a professor of psychiatry at Yale University, we are “seeing signs of impairment”. A psychiatrist and mental health expert, Lee was also the author of the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. The book entails doubts of Trump’s mental health and Lee is seemingly worried about his behavior and the increasing severity of his lashing out and impulsive actions. She states that “it’s been markedly getting worse. All the signs have been getting worse”.
The current administration recommends those aged 65 and older have a cognitive impairment screening performed. Trump, now aged 71 years old, certainly meets the criteria. The National Institute on Aging explains that “physicians were unaware of cognitive impairment in more than 40 percent of their cognitively impaired patients”, due to failure of being screened.
Though psychiatrist Brandy Lee will not have any part in Trump’s exam, she expresses that she would perform an even more extensive exam in Trump’s case. “If I were his private psychiatrist, I would recommend a full neuropsychiatric evaluation.”
In comparison to past President’s, Trump is far from being considered to be “in shape”. As of now, we as American’s have no idea what information we will receive after the exam is conducted, nor when we will receive it.
A raid by U.S. forces that ended in the deaths of five U.S. service members several weeks ago prompted VoteVets to file a law suit against the Trump administration. The group has filed for information about the lethal mishap, under the Freedom of Information Act, demanding answers for the misleading public response to the failed operations and deaths of the U.S. soldiers in Yemen and Niger. The group wants clear answers to if and how the raids were necessary. There is the general feeling that the operations were purely political.
The body of one of the soldiers killed in the seemingly blotched action was not recovered until a full two days after the ambush by ISIS troops near the Nigerian border. The law suit filed by the Veterans of VoteVet state that local villagers who first discovered the missing soldier’s body said it appeared as if the man had been captured and executed verses being killed in the alleged ambush and fire fight. When questioned about the whole mess, Trump throw responsibility to the wind and told the victims family that the fallen soldier “knew what he signed up for.”
VoteVets, The voice of America’s 21st century patriots, was founded in 2006 as a registered non-profit 501(c) by U.S. Veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are currently around a quarter of a million members affiliated with the group. The main focus of VoteVets is to educate the American public on military issues, and “hold politicians accountable.” The non-profit has spent nearly $2 million dollars trying to do just that over the past decade.
As Americans celebrated Veterans Day, a forgotten matter should be discussed-Social security. The benefits of social security need to expand. Currently, they are too low. Veterans, just like the rest of Americans, receive these low but modest benefits, with each veteran getting only $1,377, translating to $16,524 per year. The work of social security is to insurance of workers and families they support against wage loss in case they pass away, become old or are disabled. This is a vital aspect for veterans and active military servicemen it gives their families a strong economic protection.
This economic protection is particularly vital to veterans since they are the highest likely to be killed or return disabled from combat. Social security is currently available to about 4 in every ten veterans, approximately nine million of them in total. More of the veterans or their families who have not yet received social security are eligible to be beneficiaries. Another batch of veterans, roughly one million in total, most of them with serious combat injuries, are also recipients of social security benefits for the disabled. Those lucky enough to live into old age will be covered by social security too.
Two steps should be taken by Congress members who say they care about veterans. The $2.8 trillion cash reserve meant for social service should be used to expand the services or amounts payable from social service. The reserve amount has been projected as a surplus but congress limits what the social security administration spends on the surplus amount.
An increasing number of state and county correctional facilities across the nation are allocating entire cellblocks for incarcerated veterans. Eight percent of all inmates in the United States are veterans, many of whom are more prone to serious mental illnesses like PTSD as a byproduct of their military service. In the last five years, there has been a concerted effort to rehabilitate these veterans by nonprofit groups like Soldier On.
At least eighty-six veteran cellblocks exist throughout the country. Members of the units offer comradery and support to one another while facing similar challenges. Some veteran units in Florida take on a regimented approach and hold daily flag raisings and formation drills. The veterans block in San Francisco offers yoga and medication to their inmates. The detention center in Albany New York houses veterans based on their branch and decade of service.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple reports that only 6 percent of veterans released from his correctional facility are re-incarcerated, compared to the nearly 40 percent for all other inmates. Early indications show that the veteran cellblocks are making a positive impact.
After decades in and out of jail for crimes related to substance abuse, sixty-two year old Army veteran Roberto James Davis is now working as a truck driver. Davis credits the two months he served in the veterans block in San Bruno California for the turnaround, “I was determined that if I got another shot, I was going to make the most of it, and I have”.
President Trump has signed an executive order aimed at providing new and extended mental health services to veterans of the military. The current administration recognizes the threat to mental health and wellbeing that is currently facing the military population, especially those who retire from service and find themselves without access to services. The new order would provide mental health assistance through group treatment, access to doctors and health professionals, and other services that improve the quality of life of the newest veterans.
The military department has reported that the suicide rate among veterans, especially new veterans is twice as high as the normal population. This rate is especially concerning when there are fewer mental health options made available to veterans and quickly decreasing health options once men and women leave service. By extending the type of services that these vets can take advantage of, the country is able to provide these individuals with the resources and skills they need to maintain their mental well being.
An executive order signed by the President gives motion and attention to the issue, but it does not spell out all the ways in which assistance is going to be provided. Various departments of the government will now have to meet and work on a solid plan that can be presented and then implemented to veteran affairs and the military department. However, that this issue has been given attention by the President, is a big first step and the country’s way of showing how important the sacrifice these men and women make is.
United States veterans who fought in the Vietnam War had to endure many hardships. The problems did not end for many of them when they returned home. That many still be the case 42 years after the United States finally pulled out of Vietnam. This is because it is very possible that some of the soldiers who served in Vietnam could be infected with a parasite that is commonly found in Southeast Asia. A study has been performed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They want to see if there is any sort of a connection between bile cancer found in veterans and a fluke parasite that gets into the body by eating fish that is either undercooked or raw.
The parasite takes several decades before it starts to do damage to its host. In fact, the person may have no idea they have a parasite because they do not feel any pain. It is usually too late to do anything once the person starts to feel bad. They usually only live for a few more months after that point.
50 veterans had their blood tested during the study. 20 percent of those people tested positive for the parasite. This surprised the head researcher who was in charge of performing the tests. However, he cautions that there are still more test that he needs to perform before he gets any conclusive results. Fortunately, the parasites can be killed very easily with medication. However, they need to be detected in their early stages of development.
People are starting to point out problems when it comes to charities for veterans. Some charities are using telemarketers. These telemarketers call homes and attempt to get people to donate money to veterans.
The problem with this is that the telemarketers often take a lot of the money for their own salaries and to cover fees. Veterans are not getting most of the money that was donated to them.
Arthur Hampton is a case in point. He hired telemarketers to get people to donate to Circle of Friends for American Veterans. The telemarketers took ninety percent of the donations, and Hampton himself took well over three hundred thousand dollars in compensation.
Hampton then moved on to political fundraising for action groups that would support veterans. Here too, it seems like he benefited financially. He created a PAC, but telemarketers took 1.3 million dollars out of the 1.5 million dollars that were raised, and Hampton himself took seventy five thousand dollars in the first nine months.
It is not against the law for telemarketers to take money to cover expenses as long as they do not lie about it. However, it is clear that reforms must be made. People are under the impression that they are donating to veterans, but most of their money is not going to where they think it is going. It is time for charities to take an honest look at themselves and what they are doing.
Thousands of military veterans have received notices of benefits overpayment from the United States Department Of Veteran Affairs. This development is cause for concern for many U.S. veterans.
Take the case of Isaac Daniel, a 22-year veteran of the United States Navy that retired with a disability. Upon retirement, Daniel began receiving monthly disability payments of $1100 in addition to retirement payments of $1200. Daniel, his wife, and five children relied on both checks to make ends meet.
The nightmare for Daniel begins a little over a year ago when he received a letter from the Veteran Affairs debt management system center stating that Daniel received overpayments of more than $18,000.
The veterans administration explained to Daniel that he had never completed a form sent to him used to verify the presence of dependent children in the home. Daniel said that he never received such a form but that the number of dependents in his home was the same since his 2006 retirement.
When Daniel contacted the Veteran Administration it was learned that the letter was sent to an address where Daniel had lived 35 years previously. The result for Daniel and family was the garnishment of his disability check to pay back what the VA had determined was the debt Daniel owed them.
Daniel’s case is not an isolated one.
Airforce retiree Zaldy Sabino was informed of a 22,000 debt he owed to the VA. The problem, Sabino explains is that he never received money from the VA at the time the VA alleges.
Many more veterans have spoken in protests to debts they are said to owe due to the faulty record-keeping practices of the VA.