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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

A Memorial Day 2009 message from Gary Wright II

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Today I hope each of you had a chance to remember our veterans and heroes.

The Memoral Day holiday started out as "Decoration Day." It was a day when everyone in the community would go to the cemetery to clean and decorate all of the graves. It is such a shame that many communities over the years have abandoned this tradition.

As a veteran, there isn't a day that passes that is not a "Memorial" day for me. I must never forget the sacrifices that were made by those who have walked before me (and after me). As important as it is to remember the veterans we have lost, we must also honor the veterans who still live among us.

Did you know that today there are over 500,000 homeless veterans? One veterans group (SupportYourVet.org) reports, "About a quarter of the nation's population are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members, or survivors of veterans."

The Veterans Administration (VA) doesn't send a letter out telling you have benefits. You have to seek them out, and you usually need help to get them started.

Did you know a veteran gets a free headstone on their grave? If you are not a veteran or related to one, please pass these message to your friends who may need it.

Today I would like to share two resources that will hopefully help you: va.gov and SupportYourVet.org

The first step is eligibility, so you will usually need a DD214 and an honorable discharge. After the eligibility phase, you have to start requesting the benefits that you want to receive. There is a form and process which is different to every benefit. If you don't have a DD214, there is a form and process to get one. If you don't have an honorable discharge, there is a form and process to "upgrade" it.

There are Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) everywhere, and it is usually a great help if you use their services. They can help you find and fill out all of the forms, explain the processes, and more. There is a link to find the VSOs near you at va.gov

The veterans of Iraq / Afghanistan have very special needs, and they will really need help from all of us! The simple purpose of war is to kill people and break things. The military breaks you down and teaches you to kill, but before you leave the service they never take the time to teach you how "not to kill." All of these veterans have lots of "invisible" wounds, and none of them are easy to heal because so many of them are complex mental conditions.

It is expected that each of these veterans will suffer from depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and many times substance abuse. It is never an easy transition from the military back to civilian life.

The web site SupportYourVet.org states common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Hyper-vigilance (being on guard constantly)
  • Exaggerated startle response (jumping after hearing loud noises)
  • Sleep disturbances (lack of sleep, oversleeping)
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of interest / apathy
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rage
  • Alcohol / drug abuse
  • Erratic / aggressive driving habits

The veteran may also relive traumatic events, avoid situations that remind them of their deployment, and experience feelings of guilt.

Our veterans are not asking for any 'special' treatment, the are only wanting the benefits that they earned for their service to our country. Everyone (not just veterans) deserves a home, enough food to eat, and a safe place to live. It is a shame that are country is not reaching out to help them, instead they force them to lose their pride by asking for help.

Please take a moment today to remember ALL of our veterans and heroes. Let's not wait until they are dead to honor them!

Thanks!

-- Gary Wright II

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