PTSD: VVAW Jumping in with Both Feet

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By Ray Parrish, VVAW Veterans Benefits Counselor

As mentioned in a previous article, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) intends expanding its capability to offer services to Veterans with PTSD regardless of their views on their war.

According to Ray Parrish, like it or not, we older Veteran’s familiar with the red tape and bureaucratic stamina of the VA Claims and Appeals process are in a position to help all those Veterans who can’t find help anyplace else, because we’re the one’s calling for help.

Posted by: Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, VT News Network

How can WE help others deal with the complexities of PTSD?

Luckily, new developments make it possible for most of you reading this to become part of a support network being set up by VVAW to fill a need.

VT Editorial Comment/Question: Where does Veterans go for PTSD assistance when questioning their role in the wars may be an aggravating or root cause of their PTSD? Most of the traditional Veterans Service Organizations are going to shun or try to silence Veterans who have views on the wars that conflict with the political party line of said VSO regardless who it is. In fact, Veterans views on their war may just impact the quality to which their case is handled unless we remain silent going in the door. Don’t let anyone try convincing you that the VSOs and VA are not highly politicized that would be bullshit.

Ray’s priority, and ultimate goal, is to provide Mental Health and VA claims support for each Iraq Veteran Against the War (IVAW) chapter, GI coffeehouses, GI Rights Hotline counseling center, military base and prison with a Veterans group.

The VVAW hotline and Ray’s email get referrals from the GI Rights Hotline, IVAW, Veterans for Peace (VFP), Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) among other groups, the VVAW website, several other websites, web searches that turn up Ray’s TV show in Chicago, veteranshelpingveterans.us

The calls for help are on a variety of topics, although PTSD comes up in most. Many callers will avail themselves of the services of VVAW therapist, Hans Buwalda, for treatment or get a referral from her for a local mental health professional. Many are impressed with the fact that VVAW is the only Veterans’ group offering such comprehensive services for young Veterans who question their role in their war.

Many are still on active duty and a family member will call VVAW, because they can depend on confidentiality to protect their military careers, something not guaranteed by either the Pentagon or VA.

VT Editorial Comment: Once again the goal and objective of VVAW is to be able to provide PTSD and related Mental Health services to those Veterans who feel they have nowhere else to turn, and we foresee a growing number of such younger Vets regardless of their views on their war.

Ray Parrish tells us about the Veterans who can’t go into a VA facility, because they no longer trust the government who sent them to war or they felt betrayed when they returned home. (Shadows of the Vietnam Veterans experience getting PTSD recognized in the first place. Major Hanafin)

Some Vets’ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is so severe they ended up with bad conduct discharges and were turned away by the VA. Some ended up in prison, and some don’t even ask for help because they are ashamed to be seen as weak.

VVAW members are already working within local groups to help in these efforts, and you can join in.

What can WE do to help?

Go to the IVAW website at http://www.ivaw.org/ and contact the nearest chapter to find out what they need. http://www.ivaw.org/chaptersandregions

Do the same with the GI Rights Hotline website at http://www.girightshotline.org/ or call a nearby prison to get contact info on any Veterans groups established within the prison system.

You may be directed to a Vet who called before you and is already coordinating support.

You might be asked to call area Mental Health or VA Claims professionals to find volunteers.

You might decide to become certified as a Veteran’s peer-counselor, get accredited as a VA claims agent, or get trained to answer calls through the GI Rights Hotline.

To seek certification as a Veteran’s peer-counselor accredited by the VA, call your local VA Medical Center and ask for the coordinator of PTSD peer counseling or “vet2vet” program, and if there are none go to the VA Medical Center Director and offer to help get one going.

VETNET in Chicago at http://vet-netchicago.org/ got the grant to develop the Veterans’ peer-counseling curriculum and the week-long trainings are happening in VA Medical Center’s nation-wide, but they will not get anywhere without experienced Veterans stepping forward to volunteer.

VT Editorial Comment: Major Hanafin intends to step up to the plate and volunteer for the training at the Dayton VAMC or to set up a training program at the Dayton VAMC.

Training to become a VA Certified peer-counselor

Training in VA claims has recently taken a giant step with the release of a new 6 hour DVD titled Veterans Benefits Advocacy from the National Veterans Legal Services Program at http://www.nvlsp.org/ the same people who write the Veterans Benefits Manual (VBM) that Ray depends on to advice other Vets. This DVD should give you the skills needed to pass the VA exam to get accreditation and the VBM will enable you to win cases that the mainstream Veterans Service Organizations call unwinnable.

As the link to the 2010 DVD will show you, they are expensive, especially when ordered in sets. However, when the 2010 edition comes out this summer, the publisher is donating all the unsold 2009 editions to Ray at VVAW for distribution to support incarcerated Veterans. VVAW will start with the Maine State prison just before the Veterans for Peace (VFP) convention there. Since there are so many prisons, and so many Vets in them, Ray expects to run out of the freebies early.

You may decide to actually become a Veteran-owned service provider business by taking advantage of loans and grants from the VA, EPA or Small Business Administration to buy an apartment building and lease through the VA Supportive Housing program or start a business (plenty of money for green businesses) to provide jobs or training for Veterans.

Whatever you decide, Ray Parrish is available to support your efforts.

About the Author: Ray Parrish (SGT., USAF, 72-75) is VVAW’s Military Counselor. If you need help, call him at 773-561-8879 or email Ray at camiblue@vvaw.org.

VETERANS TODAY EDITORIAL COMMENT: As WE continue to do our coverage of issues surrounding PTSD, we have been given copyright permission to use promotional images of a movie currently in production called P.T.S. D. by Fernando Beltran y Puga of
Leviathan Blue the Producer and Director of the upcoming psychological thriller P.T.S.D. and the non-fictional documentary to accompany the fictional movie.

If readers would like to find out more about this production, you may contact Fernando at : fbeltran@leviathanblue.com , Phone: (818) 588-6893, Cell:     (703) 774-2518

To follow the production schedule and promotional materials on the Web:
http://www.leviathanblue.com
http://www.alteregomovie.com
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2279337/

You may also follow and participate in forums and blogs related to the production of P.T.S. D. on:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AlterEgomovie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PTSDmovie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Terminalmovie
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/leviathanblue
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PTSDmovie
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/leviathanblue

I will be doing an in-depth article on the production P.T.S.D. with the collaboration and cooperation of Mr. Beltran y Puga in order to help promote his effort and get more Veterans and Military Families involved. The production IS NOT exclusively about Veterans with PTSD although one of the characters will portray this role and scenario. The movie is about PTSD on a national social level, and unlike the traditional Rambo image of Veterans or people with PTSD, it tends to approach the issues surrounding PTSD in a more positive light including the four main characters working together to find a cure for PTSD. The movie P.T.S.D. is not endorsed yet by Vietnam Veteran Against the War (VVAW), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), or any other PEACE oriented Veterans and Military Family groups nor VT News Network.

As I find out more about the production, it will be reviewed by me just as I’ve reviewed Severe Clear, Stop Loss, and a few other films dealing with combat stress, trauma, and reality.

Robert L. Hanafin, SP5, U.S. Army (69-76), Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired (77-94), VT News.

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Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I've posted on Veterans Today, I've had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I've been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I'm now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.