Veterans

thank-you-veterans

Continuing along in the library read through project, I read about “honor crimes” and the exploitation of women and girls–just some of the things our vets have fought against. It really came as no surprise to me that the next major topic I encountered was veterans themselves. I am still reading in the 360’s, Social Problems & Social Services. Our vets are sadly not immune from social problems. Many vets come back with physical injuries that are easier to see and treat. Unfortunately many vets also come back with no visible signs of injury and struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Unseen injuries are the hardest to treat and often lead to the visible social issues we can see:

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 In addition to the social issues depicted above, many vets experience difficulties in their marriages, relationships, and  problems in the workplace (if they have actually managed to find work) often due to undiagnosed PTSD and TBI.  Where do these vets belong when they come home? How should PTSD and TBI be treated? These are just a few of the questions addressed in Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel.

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Rarely have I seen a book so candid and sincere concerning vets with PTSD and TBI. David Finklel follows several soldiers who served in Iraq, their families,  a war widow with dependent  children, and professional men and women who are trying to help returning wounded warriors through the chaotic months after their homecoming.  Many of the soldiers in this book go down very different paths seeking answers about what to do with themselves. Which path is best? Which treatment is best? Society as a whole is still trying to figure this out. Compassionately written and eye opening, this is a book that will open your understanding of just what these heroes  and their families face in their own personal wars on the home front.

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Veterans Unclaimed Benefits by Michael Riedel is an absolute must read for any veteran, spouse of a veteran, or widow(er) of a veteran. This book is by far the best of its kind that I’ve ever seen. If you have friends or family who are veterans, please try to get this book in their hands. There are so many helpful programs and services available to veterans and their families but they do no good if the targeted recipients don’t know about them.

The benefits and programs for vets and their families are clearly explained in terms of what the program is, how it works, how to establish eligibility by explaining what forms (and where to get them) need to be submitted, when, and to whom. This book will help any vet and family to cut through bureaucratic red tape. The information in this book can and has helped save vets thousands of dollars in everything from college and medical expenses to housing and final planning.

The majority of those who have served our country are eligible for many vet services provided that the vet was not dishonorably discharged. However, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) never explains what all of the offered programs and services are or how to apply for them unless they are specifically asked. Even when specifically asked the VA reps don’t always know the answers or even know about some of the programs. Michael Riedel’s book explains exactly how to go about finding the correct path to getting the right information and being able to receive sought after benefits and services.  The vet & family must be diligent in educating themselves about programs and services available. For this reason alone thousands of vets are not receiving compensation and/or services to which they are entitled.

I am married to an Army vet and he is fairly well educated about many of the programs and services available. He’s already taken advantage of several of them. He has a 10% service connected disability which makes him eligible for free health care through the VA health care system and a small monthly compensation. That alone has saved us thousands of dollars. He has taken advantage of many of the programs which help with education–again saving us thousands of dollars. There are other benefits that he has also taken advantage of at various times. However, when I brought this book home even he found many things in it that neither of us knew were even an option. For instance he knew that he could have a military burial service/grave plot but neither one of us knew that would also extend to me (not the military service) for burial and a grave plot as the wife of a veteran. We also found out that even though my husband’s disability (which is a hearing loss caused by shooting mortars) was rated at 10%, that if his hearing loss gets worse (as it seems to be doing) he can actually be reevaluated and possibly be rated at 20% or whatever. He may be eligible for hearing aids and other items. We had no idea that the percentage rating could get changed. In the VA system this is important because a service related disability percentage change can open doors to needed medical treatments and devices (such as hearing aids). These are only a couple of small examples that we found in this book.

If you happen to be the spouse or widow/widower of a veteran, I urge you to also read this book. There are many benefits that extend to YOU and also your children if they are dependents, in college, or disabled themselves. Spouses of active duty military personnel hold down the home front in a million different ways when a soldier is deployed. Upon leaving the military many vets have spouses who advocate for them and oversee much of their medical treatment and other services. Spouses often care for vets at home, assure proper medications are given, drive them around to various appointments, keep up with important paperwork, make appropriate phone calls and basically coordinate treatments and service  schedules as well as act as liaisons between the vet and professional people just to name a few ways spouses contribute to the care of veterans. That some services and/or programs extend to spouses appears to be a nod from the military and law makers to recognize all contributions that spouses make-most of which are never recognized since most spouses prefer to keep the attention on the vets.

Vets have done a great service for our county. They deserve all of these offered benefits and services. They deserve jobs, good homes, and plenty of good nourishing food. They deserve to be compensated for all they have done. Many have payed the ultimate price and their families deserve to be cared for. Some vets have returned physically and/or psychologically injured and deserve top rate medical and/or psychiatric treatment. Regardless of the circumstances of their return, these men and women deserve our utmost respect and our gratitude.

Here at the Fulton County Public Library, we love and support our vets. Each year a staff member,  Fancy Fox,  sets up a patriotic salute to all vets. Fancy Fox is also an Army mom of a currently deployed soldier.

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Vets and their families have responded well to this project. Here is the display this year:

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Anyone can remember a vet, living or dead, with an ornament. Each year local school children are given the opportunity to participate in this project. This year the ornaments are made of clay. The front of the ornament shows the vet’s picture.

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The back of the ornament shows the name, branch, and any relevant details of the vet’s time in service.

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Across from the heroes’ tree(s) is a place for families to write down similar details to honor their vets.

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A sign in this area explains the project.

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The American Legion usually comes in full uniform and performs a dedication service in honor of our vets. At the end of the project, the families are contacted and given the ornament of their vet to keep.

If you would like to do something to help, but you aren’t sure what, please check out booksforsoldiers.com . Books for Soldiers (BFS) is a non-profit corporation, operated as a ministry of the non-denominational, interfaith Order of the Red Grail church in North Carolina. You can become a volunteer to support our vets and active duty soldiers both overseas and stateside. Through this site you can become a pen pal, find out what books, dvds and other relief items our men and women in uniform are requesting. Many of these things will also be sent to vets in hospitals.

From my family and from the  Fulton County Public Library to all vets everywhere we say:

Thank You For Your Service!

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