[Editorial written by Jerry Donnellan....February 2015]
When we returned from Vietnam there was no such thing as PTSD. Even if there was, most of us couldn't spell it anyway. Now if you ask the general public, it seems like every veteran has it. It's the usual pendulum swing - over-correcting, and maybe in the future it will come back to a center. However, the VA hasn't been able to wrap its arms around it. Although there are many good and competent mental health professionals in the VA, they are working for a large and regimented system that doesn't pivot quickly. They have to look long and hard at costs, liability, and things that the corporate world would look at. But when treating young veterans with mental health concerns, you need to be more nimble and more sensitive than that federal agency can be. In terms of administration, the VA is just like the IRS for the veteran that has to deal with the bureaucrats long before she sees a doctor.
If Washington was serious about treating veterans with PTSD, they would actively recruit mental health professionals who are combat veterans or at least veterans. This for their first line of intake interfacing with the young combat veterans. Further, they could develop an express aisle for incoming vets who even if they mentioned anything akin to PTSD, they would see a special person like them. There are very few twenty-something veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan that are going to trust or open up to a middle-aged therapist who has never worn a uniform or been on a battlefield other than Gettysburg.
There are combat veterans who are seen in the VA. Usually, they are the veterans who are able to adapt to the government world and understand the bureaucracy. They are the ones that realize that the same VA that's treating them is also paying their disability benefits, and simply a different department of the same outfit that sent them to war in the first place. So trust is hard to come by. Therefore, it's in their best interest to be just crazy enough without being too crazy. Recovery could mean loss of benefits, while opening up about more stressful concerns could have ramifications in terms of career and personal life. So they become Heller's character, Yossarian, in Catch-22. The mental health professionals in the VA see this Kabuki theater for what it is, but what can they do? The difficulty is the truly stressed-out veterans, the ones we need to reach, are not going to put up with the bureaucracy and the suicide rate will remain high.
The VA Budget today, even if you adjust for inflation, is more than twice what it was 20 years ago. The VA population is half of what it was 20 years ago. In English, there is twice as much real money for each veteran's treatment today as there was then. What if we made the bureaucracy work for the veteran? 41.7% of the current 68.4 billion dollars is discretionary. At the same time, the Department of Defense's (DOD) current Budget is 495 billion dollars. Maybe they could work together to contact people in the military who have a background in psychology, counseling, or an aptitude for that type of thing. Offer them the possibility of a position in the VA Clinics and Hospitals.
Understanding that they're not psychologists or psychiatrists, but will be trained to work enrolling veterans in the VA Healthcare system. At the same time, develop a system whereby the VA can access the DOD computers so that when said veteran shows up at the VA, his/her military records could be accessed. Thereby cutting down on a lot of time and paperwork. So as not to add more stress to a person who is obviously already stressed out. Done properly this could solve a couple of problems. One, obviously to get veterans with PTSD into the VA and to help develop a trust within them, in the system, at least to some degree. It would also offer jobs to people leaving the military who based on our current draw down are going to be many in an economy where jobs are few and far between. Surely, somewhere in that 563 billion there could be a couple of bucks to try something like this.
Burn Pits -- Today's Agent Orange
[Editorial written by Jerry Donnellan....February 2017]
You know -- I would have thought today’s troops could have found their own poison, and not have to borrow one from our war in Vietnam.
You remember Agent Orange. Our friends at the Pentagon told us dumb vets it was just a weed killer when they first started spraying it in ‘Nam in ’61 or ’62. After testing it here in the States on military bases or on railroad tracks and high tension wires - ever wonder why nothing grew under the high tension wires?
A number of years ago, people who lived near these clearings began developing cancer. They looked up at the wire and talked about electromagnetic fields, when perhaps they should have been looking under their feet. That stuff has a half-life of 7 years.
Veterans of my war began developing illnesses that were unexplained. The VA coined the term, “Vietnam Syndrome.” They did this to explain this hodgepodge of illnesses and cancers. They even commissioned studies by the Health and Medicine Division, previously known as the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Medicine (HMD). This “independent, objective analysis” was to show that Agent Orange wasn’t responsible for these illnesses. The HMD shaped the methodology and data to influence the outcome of the study to be what the VA wanted it to be.
At the time, we didn’t care. We were just happy to have gotten out of ‘Nam in one piece. Some of our fellow Vietnam vets began to do some research and encouraged others more experienced in the field, and found the dioxin in Agent Orange caused cancer. This data was taken to Uncle Sam who didn’t want to hear it. So as a group we felt the only way to get attention was to sue. Since we couldn’t sue Uncle Sam, the decision was made to sue the manufacturers of Agent Orange. Primarily, Dow, Monsanto, and Diamond Shamrock. In the final analysis in 1984, we won 480 million dollars, which if nothing else called Uncle Sam’s bluff, and the VA then had to agree to begin compensating those exposed to Agent Orange. At first only one illness was connected. Over the years, it’s grown.
Veterans began submitting claims to the VA in 1977. Even though the suit was settled in ’84, by 1993, only 486 claims had been settled in the veterans’ favor – that is of 39,419 submitted. God knows how many veterans passed in the interim.
Now a number of diseases and cancers have been rated presumptive by the DVA. In English that means if you had say Diabetes or Prostate Cancer, and you served in Vietnam, the connection was accepted and you would be granted compensation. Understand this took a very long time and a lot of people. Not only the Vietnam veterans, but we also had the backing of the Korean War veterans as well as the WWII veterans.
When I came back from Vietnam in 1969 I was in my early 20’s. Korean War veterans were in their 30’s, and WWII veterans were in their 40’s. That gave us an awful lot of people. An awful lot of votes.
Burn pits. They sound innocent – kind of like a bonfire, when actually most were the size of your backyard. One in Balad was 10 acres and burned 200 tons of garbage a day. What was burned? Everything. Dogs, body parts, chemicals, batteries, fuel, medical waste, vehicle parts, jet fuel. These burn pits were to have been temporary. However, the contractor, Kellogg, Brown, and Root, operated the burn pits as part of their 35 billion dollar logistics contract in Iraq and Afghanistan. They went on burning in open air pits for years, even after Uncle Sam had dispatched cleaner burning incinerators.
Back to the point. In these pits they also burned plastic bottles, styrofoam cups, and styrofoam. Why that’s important is when those things are burned they release, you got it – dioxin. So here we are half a century later exposing our troops to the same thing, exposing them to something we knew would make them sick and could kill them.
When Iraq and Afghan vets began to question this hodgepodge of illnesses that they were coming down with, they commissioned a study in 2011. Two years after the study, HMD – yes the same group that tried to debunk Agent Orange, was back to debunking burn pits. Close to 20 years before they were debunking what had come to be known as Gulf War Syndrome.
At that point, Congress commissioned the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) to conduct an independent study. RAC reviewed the evidence from nearly 2,000 scientific studies and government reports including both human and animal studies. RAC came back to Congress and said the previous studies were “irreparably flawed” and that the illness was “real.”
So, if you served in Iraq or Afghanistan and you were around burn pits, which many of you were probably billeted next to and exposed 24/7, if your lungs are doing their job they serve as a filter for the smoke and ash that was being taken in. Ever look at the back of an air conditioner? Kind of like that.
So, you were exposed in all likelihood to dioxin. I’m not trying to scare you, but understand I am still filing claims for my buddies from Vietnam whose exposure was nearly half a century ago. Please understand another thing. That is, Vietnam vets are on average 70 years old. So, in the not too distant future we’ll be gone – and the number of vets and votes will dwindle. So, learn from us. If you feel you have symptoms, file a claim ASAP!
Four Chaplain's Memorial Service - February 3rd
The annual Four Chaplain's Memorial Service will be held this year on Sunday, February 3rd, 2019. Line up is at 0815 hours for all units posting their Colors. The service will be at Saint Boniface Church, 5 Willowtree Road in Wesley Hills, New York. All units who are posting their Colors are asked to please bring their flag stands. Roman Catholic Mass is at 0900 hrs. After the Mass, the memorial service will begin. Those that attend the service are invited to Krucker's at 91 Call Hollow Road in Pomona, New York after the service.
Here is the story of the Four Chaplains: It was the evening of Feb. 2, 1943, and the U.S.A.T. Dorchester was crowded to capacity, carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers. Once a luxury coastal liner, the 5,649-ton vessel had been converted into an Army transport ship. The Dorchester, one of three ships in the SG-19 convoy, was moving steadily across the icy waters from Newfoundland toward an American base in Greenland. SG-19 was escorted by Coast Guard Cutters Tampa, Escanaba and Comanche. To read further: http://www.fourchaplains.org/the-saga-of-the-four-chaplains/
Buffalo Soldier Award Ceremony - February 6th
The Annual Buffalo Soldier Award Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. - at the Rockland Community College Ellipse Center....145 College Road, Suffern, New York 10901 (Snow date: Wednesday, February 13th 10:30 a.m.) The pubic is welcome to attend.
Buffalo soldiers were African American soldiers who mainly served on the Western frontier following the American Civil War. In 1866, six all-black cavalry and infantry regiments were created after Congress passed the Army Organization Act. Their main tasks were to help control the Native Americans of the Plains, capture cattle rustlers and thieves and protect settlers, stagecoaches, wagon trains and railroad crews along the Western front. No one knows for certain why, but the soldiers of the all-black 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were dubbed “buffalo soldiers” by the Native Americans they encountered.
One theory claims the nickname arose because the soldiers’ dark, curly hair resembled the fur of a buffalo. Another assumption is the soldiers fought so valiantly and fiercely that the Indians revered them as they did the mighty buffalo.
The annual Rockland Detachment, Marine Corps League Mt. Suribachi Luncheon will be held this year on Wednesday February 27th, 2019 at Krucker's Catering Hall, 81 Call Hollow Road in Pomona, New York 10970. There is no charge for World War II veterans to attend. For all others, $40.00 per person if you pay before February 16th, 2019, or $45.00 at the door. Send checks to Rockland Detachment Marine Corps League, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970. For further information or to make reservations, please call 845-354-9832.
The Corps is the only branch of service that has not fully integrated male and females together at recruit training. Could that be about to change? ABC News first reported Friday that a female platoon will integrate with male platoons aboard the recruit depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
“On January 5, 2019, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island will start their training cycle with one female platoon and five male platoons,” the Marine Corps said in a statement. A Marine official said that the change was not permanent, but that the Corps “will certainly look at how the company performs in this model as we continually evaluate how we make Marines.”
VA to implement appeals modernization in February: Act will simplify process for how Veterans make claims appeals. VA Press Release 01/17/2019 05:12 PM EST
WASHINGTON - Today the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) announced that the Federal Register will publish on Jan. 18 regulations accompanying the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (AMA), which will help Veterans experience a more transparent claims decision-review process. To read further: https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/includes/viewPDF.cfm?id=5183
Burn Pit Toxic Exposure Update
Burn Pit Toxic Exposure Update 60 ► Advocates Hope to Reignite Debate in 2019
Toxic exposure from combat burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t a new topic, but veterans advocates hope it will get new attention in 2019. Several groups — most prominently, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — in recent months have been pushing the issue back into the public spotlight, in hopes of spurring more public policy reaction from lawmakers. The hope is that Congress and Veterans Affairs officials can move more quickly on research and support services before another generation of former military personnel starts showing grave health effects from the chemical poisoning.
In fact, much of 2018’s veterans policy on Capitol Hill revolved around Vietnam veterans’ exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange during that conflict. Decades later, the substance has been linked to numerous rare cancers and other detrimental health effects, and veterans groups are still lobbying VA to expand their illness definitions to expand veteran benefits. Younger veterans see comparisons in that fight with the burn pits. The trash fires — some small, short-time disposal areas, others massive waste burns fueled by gasoline — often contained a mix of different dangerous chemical fumes. But because the size and composition varied from base to base, collecting hard scientific evidence on the adverse health effects has been difficult.
Advocates have pushed for expanded research and better tracking tools for veterans exposed to the fires. Lawmakers have been sympathetic but also slow to action on the issue. Meanwhile, while health care is available to veterans facing serious consequences from toxic exposure, VA officials have been leery to extend disability benefits to those veterans without a better scientific backing. The use of unregulated burn pits has all but disappeared for U.S. troops overseas, but the health effects won’t fade away as quickly. Advocates insist they need to remind Congress and federal officials of that fact as often as possible. [Source: MilitaryTimes | Leo Shane III | January 2, 2018 ++]
Dustoff Provides Aeromedical Evacuation in Kuwait
Northstar Dustoff Provides Aeromedical Evacuation in Kuwait- U.S. Army Sgt. Emily Finn - 1/4/2019 www.health.mil
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Looking out to a vast horizon, where the brown, sandy dunes of Kuwait’s desert meet the blue sky, appears a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter with a red cross on the door. The red cross is an international sign of medical assistance and a sign of hope for those in need.
Flying through the skies, Charlie Company, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, Minnesota Army National Guard, currently assigned to the 1-108th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Kansas Army National Guard, is deployed to the Middle East in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield.
“Charlie Company provides medical evacuation to ground force commanders in an area of operation,” said U.S. Army Maj. Nathan Burr, commander.
As one of two aeromedical evacuation companies supporting the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade, Missouri Army National Guard, the MEDEVAC unit has a particularly critical mission. They provide all aeromedical evacuation aid in Kuwait, supporting all military branches.
Charlie Company, nicknamed Northstar Dustoff, has completed more than twice the amount of MEDEVAC missions as their predecessor, in nearly half the time. “For us it’s good, because we’re flying and doing missions,” said Burr. “It doesn’t mean more people are getting hurt. I think it just means more people understand what our capabilities are.”
Upon arrival in theater, the Northstar Dustoff command began spreading word of their operational capabilities to units in Camp Buehring, as well as other camps in the vicinity. Known as MED101, Charlie Company uses aeromedical evacuation rehearsals and other training, to familiarize units with the aeromedical helicopter and crews’ capabilities. To read full story, view link:
The VA has updated the VA Welcome Kit as of December 2018. There is a lot of helpful information in the kit, that applies to all veterans. Pay particular attention to pages 17-24 which outline simple checklists to Apply for VA Health Care, Apply for a Disability Rating, Apply for VA Educational Benefits, or to Get Started with Caregiver Benefits. Download the VA Welcome Kit to find out your veterans' benefits at this link: https://www.va.gov/welcome-kit/
MilitaryTimes.com - Published January 2, 2019. By Leo Shane III
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has been promising expanded health care choices for veterans dating back to his election campaign in 2015. But 2019 could be the year his administration actually makes that happen.
Veterans Affairs has been working on expanded community care rules for veterans' medical appointments since last summer, when Congress approved the VA Mission Act. Details of that work are expected to be released in early 2019, and a full set of new regulations is scheduled to be released in early spring.
Among other priorities, the legislation mandated a retooling of the department’s policies for veterans seeking private-sector care, a massive undertaking that supporters have hailed as giving more flexibility and freedom to veterans who face long lines at VA hospitals and clinics.
Here is some information on the HANDCYCLE PROGRAM from Roy Tsudy of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter #333: Since 2013, VVA Chapter 333 has created their Handcycle Program. Roy, along with fellow chapter Vietnam veteran Marcus Arroyo (via fund raising along with donations) have purchased and donated 13 of these cycles to military veterans with leg amputations and / or spinal cord injuries. Unfortunately, due to strict adherence to HIPPA law, they cannot easily locate veterans who can benefit from having one of the hand cycles. They find the candidates via extensive research or word of mouth.
With that in mind, if you know of any veteran with combat related injuries who would like to own a Handcycle free of charge, please contact Roy Tschudy via e-mail at: email@example.com so a proper vetting process can begin by both Marcus and Roy. Thank you. Roy Tschudy V.P. Chapter 333 V.V.A.
On December 22nd and 23rd a few Chapter members put together a fund raiser at the Palisades Center Mall and received donations amounting to $1,833.00 from generous people shopping during that two day period. The VVA Officers and Members would like to thank the community for their donations.
Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter #333 is in the process of purchasing a Handcycle for a female Army veteran who received a spinal cord injury as an active member of the service. Hopefully very soon she will be tooling around in her new cycle, making her life a little less complex. Thank you to the members of Chapter 333 who gave up their time over the Christmas weekend to make this a reality!
USIS-US Information Systems, Pearl River, New York has numerous jobs available and we appreciate their reaching out to our veterans. USIS is located at 35 West Jefferson Avenue, Pearl River, NY10965. Their website is: http://www.usis.net/. If interested in any of these positions, please send an updated resume to: Anjelica Pagnozzi - Recruitment@usis.net (845) 353-9248
USIS is now hiring for the following positions:
* Accounts Payable Administrator (Entry Level 1-3 years’ experience, Pearl River, NY)
* Audio Visual Customer Service Support Engineer (3 years’ experience, Metro NY Area)
* Audio Visual Field Engineer (5 years’ experience, Metro NY Area)
* Audio Visual Project Engineer (5 years’ experience, Metro NY Area)
* Audio Visual Project Manager (5 years’ experience, Pearl River, NY)
* BICSI Instructor (5 years’ experience, Pearl River, NY)
* BIM Operator (3 years’ experience, Pearl River, NY)
* Craft (Electrical) Instructor- (Pearl River, NY)
* Data Center Technician, Night Shift (3 years’ experience, Metro NY Area)
* Data Center Technician (3 years’ experience Piscataway, NJ)
* Data & Voice Technician (5 years’ experience, Metro NY Area)
* Electrical Apprentice (Entry Level, Orangeburg & Metro NY Area)
* IT Help Desk Technician (3 years’ experience, Orangeburg, NY)
* Journeyman Electrician (5 years’ experience, Metro NY Area)
* Security Technician (3 years’ experience, Metro NY Area)
* Security Project Manager (5 years’ experience, Metro NY Area)
* Tele Comm. Designer (5 years’ experience, Pearl River, NY) Please submit resumes and questions to Anjelica Pagnozzi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pearl River Hilton Hotel
The Pearl River Hilton Hotel currently has numerous job openings and would like to employ qualified veterans. Please see the attached list job opportunities and qualifications. http://rocklandgov.com/files/8315/3970/0377/Hilton_Hotel_Jobs.pdf
Please contact Maria Marcolini at the Pearl River Hilton Human Resources Department via phone or email for additional details and resume submission:
Maria Marcolini 845-735-9000 ex 7172 or Maria.email@example.com
Montefiore-Nyack Hospital, Nyack, New York 10960
See link for full listing and information about career opportunities at Nyack Hospital, Nyack, New York.
ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES AIDE (PART-TIME NIGHTS) - Nyack, NY Part Time
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSOCIATE – 5 DOCTORS - Nyack, NY Part Time
REGISTERED NURSE-RADIOLOGY - Nyack, NY Part Time
PATIENT CARE ASSOCIATE (PART-TIME DAYS) - Nyack, NY Part Time
PATIENT ACCOUNTING REPRESENTATIVE - Nyack Hospital - Blue Hill Full Time
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSOCIATE, OBSTETRICS - Nyack, NY Part Time
CENTRAL STERILE TECHNICIAN - Nyack, NY Full Time
The Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee for Laborers, Local #17, will conduct a recruitment Feb. 4 - 15 for 12 skilled construction craft laborer apprentices. Applications can be obtained from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday during the recruitment period at Local Union #17, 451-C Little Britain Road, Newburgh, New York. Applications will be available and accepted for 10 business days, or until 100 applications have been issued, whichever comes first. Applications must be filled out at the office.
The Committee requires that applicants:
Must be at least 18 years old.
Must have a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma (such as TASC or GED).
Must have reliable transportation to and from work and related instruction.
Must be physically able to perform the work of a skilled construction craft laborer as determined by a physical agility test conducted by Local Union #17.
NYC Green Book Online: The Green Book is the official directory of the City of New York. An indispensable reference guide for anyone living or working with New York City. Includes detailed listings of agencies. Website:http://a856-gbol.nyc.gov/GBOLWebsite/
For your information, here are the addresses for some of our local veterans' organizations:
Rockland County Marine Corps League, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
Military Order of the Purple Heart, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
Vietnam Veterans of America, P.O. Box 243, New City, New York 10956
Nam Knights, 1 Western Highway, Tappan, New York 10983
Korean War Veterans, P.O. Box 304, New City, New York 10956
R.C. Military Order of the Purple Heart, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
Jewish War Veterans, P.O. Box 38, New City, New York 10956
Veterans of Foreign Wars, P.O. Box 921, New City, New York 10956
Air Force Association, Chapter 251, 207 Treetop Circle, Nanuet, New York 10954
Rockland County American Legion, 86 South Reld Drive, Pearl River, New York 10965
Combat Vet ID Cards Available Combat Veteran ID Cards are available. If you are a combat veteran, you can get this card at the County Clerk's Office which is located at 1 South Main Street, Suite 100, New City, New York 10956. To apply for the Combat Veteran ID Card, or the F.A.V.O.R. card for all veterans, if you don't already have one, bring your DD214 to the County Clerk's Office. They'll take your photo and make up a card for you.
For further information, contact the Rockland County Clerk's Office at (845) 638-5076.
This new Combat Veteran ID Card offers all of the same benefits as the F.A.V.O.R. (Find and Assist Veterans of Record) card, which includes almost 1000 discounts to Rockland's veterans, but this new CVID card has specific advantages. The CVID card is co-sponsored by the Rockland County Police Benevolent Association and will be recognized by our local law enforcement agencies. So if you ever get pulled over, along with your license, registration, and insurance card, show the police officer your Combat Vet ID card so he knows you're an in-country vet.
Useful Telephone Numbers for Veterans
Rockland County Veterans Service Agency
Rockland County Sheriff’s Office
Veterans Peer-to-Peer (Counseling)
People to People (Food)
Montrose VA Hospital
New City VA Clinic
Rape Crisis Services (Main)
Rape Crisis Services (24/7)
Home Health Care
Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency
Nyack Hospital Emergency
Mental Health Association of Rockland County
Mobile Mental Health
West Point (nearest military base)
New York National Guard (Orangeburg, NY)
Army Reserve (Orangeburg, NY)
Rockland County Housing Action Coalition
Meals on Wheels
Rockland County Marine Corps League Auxiliary
The Rockland County Marine Corps League Auxiliary continues its on-going campaign - Pet Rescue - to reunite our troops with pets they may have had to leave in Afghanistan. Cans and bottles (no glass bottles) that can be recycled for cash, may be brought to Kearsing Edwards American Legion Post 1600, 20 Station Road in Pomona, New York. They are collected by ARC Pet Rescue volunteers and recycled. Contributions for the Pet Rescue Project are also welcome! The funds pay for food and water to sustain pets on their journey home; their transportation is free. For more information contact Chairman Dale Fisher 845-304- 3595.
Rockland County Marine Corps League - MASH Unit
We regularly receive donations of handicap assistance equipment for disabled veterans from people who want to help. Our donated equipment is available for free to military veterans and their families. The items include the following:
If you have need of any of this equipment, contact the folks at the Rockland County Marine Corps League - 845-323-8774 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
RockVets Newsletter - A Project of New York Vets
RockVets is an Outreach project of New York Vets, Inc. - a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization established in 1992, to advocate for those who have worn the uniform of the U.S. Military, no matter where or when they served.
The volunteers at New York Vets / RockVets publish this monthly e-newsletter. We welcome your thoughts, questions, and feedback. E-mail: email@example.com.
At the discretion of the editor, we'd be happy to add your upcoming events to our newsletter. Please submit the details to us as soon as possible, but no later than the 25th of each month so we can get the information in the following issue. Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.