I'm passionate about issues effecting military veterans, especially veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
Over the past couple of days, congress has squabbled over fixing the outdated Montgomery GI Bill, a program to help soldiers get an ducation. Some of our Congressmen and women don't want to update the outdated program because soldiers may leave the military for better options.
I've also recently learn the hard way that the VA Home Loan program, designed to help soldiers purchase a home, has ratcheted down it's olicies such that it's more difficult for a Veteran to use a VA program than conventional or FHA home loan programs, the same programs on-veterans use to purchase homes. (The VA loan does not give oldiers any money, it's only a guarantee from the US Government overing a portion of the loan should the veteran default.)
But the issue I'm most passionate about is the funding, stigmatization, and making available of mental health programs for eturning veterans. I'm a veteran of the Iraq War and I've used these services. I believe this program saved my marriage, family, career, and even my life. I'd like to invite you to listen to a personal essay about my observations from within the VA mental health clinic.
KUER Radio Audio Article
If you'd like to learn more about how you can truly "support the troops," visit IAVA.org. I belong to this organization and strongly believe in the work were doing. I hope my recorded essay has encourages you to do more than simply say you "support the troops."
Iraq War Veteran
Addendum: Bryan posted a comment:
Some of my friends and family have asked what they can do to help our Vets. There are a number of things we can do.
1. Learn more about and join the IAVA as a supporter. (An Internet search for "IAVA" will take you there. I'd love to post a link by it probably won't make it through the spam filter.) You will receive occasional e-mails outlining different ways you can take action and support our Veterans. The IAVA is a non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to our Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.
2. You can make a donation to the IAVA; big or small it all helps. Or purchase a copy of CHASING GHOSTS by Paul Rieckhoff because a portion of each sale goes to the IAVA. Buy it on the website and you can get it signed by the author.)
3. Learn more about the documentary, "Reserved to Fight" by Mirror Lake Films. I saw this film the day before I walked through the doors of the VA. This movie follows 4 veterans for 5 years and I firmly believe going to the screening saved my life. (I will so be holding a screening at my home, so if you're in the Salt Lake area, look me up.) "Reserved to Fight" will air on PBS in November but you can pre-order your copy now. The soundtrack is awesome too!
4. Take it one step further and donate to Mirror Lake Film's Voice for Veterans Outreach Program, an effort to get help for Iraq and Afghanistan Vets. They're also trying to share their documentary at colleges and universities across the nation.
5. Call, E-mail, or write a letter to your Senators and Representative expressing that you'd like to see them care for our vets by increasing funding for VA Mental Health, passing the New GI Bill, and supporting our troops in meaningful ways, ways that are more than just lip service.
6. Chat with Combat Veterans, this war or any war. Ask them about their service. Look for ways to help them. Listen to them. You might not be able to completely understand, but you can still listen.
8. Pray for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Support the Troops, But a Ribbon Doesn't Cut It
My good friend, Bryan Catherman, is an Iraq war vet. He wrote an article then read it for an audio report on KUER radio (University of Utah). Please visit the KUER site and listen to his article. The following is only the introduction, not the article itself.