MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS
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Veterans Tsunami is coming...
By Dwayne Hunn
Dedicated individuals in the nonprofit sector have programs that our government should provide to our troubled vets that will produce fewer wounded vets tomorrow. Building Veterans Villages helps vets erase posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fielding 21 million Americans under the American World Service Corps will eliminate creating future PTSD wounded vets. Visit www.VeteransVillage.org and www.WorldServiceCorps.us to learn more.
About 30% of our Vietnam vets suffer posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. A higher percentage of Iraqi vets will likely drag home the same ugly Iraqi luggage. Care providers in cities like Minneapolis, Minnesota claim that on any given night, 75 to 100 homeless Iraqi vets live on the streets.
Many military contracts carry four-year terms, except when the fine print is implemented, which says something like, "or until cessation of the conflict." In 2004, some of the ugliest fighting erupted in Iraq, particularly around Fallujah. A significant number of those soldiers, who faced that wretched warring, are coming home. An unhealthy percentage will return wired with dangerous flash points.
A few days ago a Vietnam vet, who works with today's severely traumatized vets, warned, "This country is about to see a deluge of violence... This Veterans Administration doesn't want to talk about that approaching tidal wave..."
Ya think? This administration didn't think Vets needed educational benefits until a vet, campaigning in his Marine Corps boots for his Iraq serving son, won a Senate seat and then brought some real straight talk to DC to pass an updated G.I. Education Bill this summer.
Many politicians shower vets, when they are living in combat tents, with accolades, yet continue offering little more than words when they are wheeled home. Radar warned this administration that Katrina was coming, but those in charge couldn't see beyond another fancy dinner. So why expect comfortable theoreticians to exhibit vision in handling the oncoming PTSD tsunami?
From those who have lost vets or have tasted the bitterness of world suffering that leads to wars, you find vision, straight talk, and projects that could quell the tsunami. The question is, "Do Americans care enough to bring such projects to fruition?"
Gold Star Mom Nadia McCaffrey's National Guard son was murdered by the Iraqi troops he was training in 2004. Since then, in memory of her Herculean son, she has dedicated her life to building veterans villages that will help vets peacefully readjust. In July, she left for Wellsville, New York, where Kristin Van Huysen deeded her seven dilapidated houses to be remodeled into the first McCaffrey Veterans Village.
As of August 12th, she hasn't had hot water and mice and rats still plague the first house she is cleaning. She is still trying to get the borrowed laptop to work and still has no real budget to rehab the seven Wellsville homes. Reinforcements may be on the way, as a hand-handy vet, Alfred State College students, and some local Habitat workers have promised to help. We expect vets who want to help rebuild the homes and their lives there to come in due time.... When concerns are expressed to this former hospice worker, driving herself without a health insurance plan, she too often responds," Don't worry... Something will work out... I'm a survivor..."
Recording these New York Veterans Village efforts will be Steve McCarthy, one of vet Dan Rather Reports producers, and Ocra Communications, who has volunteered its help. Waiting in the wings is an immediately usable veterans village site in Minnesota, with 200+ beds, cafeteria, gymnasium, teaching facilities, etc... Waiting, albeit for a $3.5 million purchase price and about a million more to staff and get it running.
These are the sane, sensible Veterans Villages programs the government should be funding. Yet, struggling citizens and non-profits with vision and answers find little support.
We have a series of huge problems on our horizon. A PTSD tsunami is just one of them. What a sad commentary on the vision and follow through of a nation once revered for carrying, getting things done, and erasing the "harm" in harm's way.
Our lack of vision has led us into the habit of pursuing dumb and ugly policies. We accepted the Vietnamese dominoes myth, and then ignored our vets plagued by those mythic nightmares. If we are going to change the myopic mindset and ugly culture that ignores our vets, weakens our middle-class, and allows our voters to be ignorant of the world, then we must rebuild our character and world vision.
How? By engaging our minds and muscle in real world environmental, economic, and human problems.
While so many in our society looks away when it comes to recognizing or doing service, Nadia McCaffrey is engaging Americans, in addressing the real world problem facing our vets. While struggling to build Veterans Villages, Nadia understood that the long run answer to eliminating PTSD requires reversing the dumbing-down of America. That's why immediately upon hearing of People's Lobby's nonpartisan American World Service Corps Congressional Proposals (AWSC) she said, "If this had existed when my son was alive, after 911 he would have chosen to serve his country in the AWSC. And he would be alive today."
In order to need fewer Veterans Villages tomorrow, America needs another 21st century volunteer army. It needs a peaceful, productive AWSC that augments our military, which will reduce the number of future bloody battlefields.
If implemented as written, the AWSC Congressional Proposals would field 21 million Americans over the next 27 years. They would voluntarily serve in their choice of established organizations. Americans could choose service at home or abroad in such organizations as Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat, Doctors Without Borders, Head Start, International Rescue Committee, Red Cross, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, State Conservation Corps, etc.
If the AWSC were up and running today, a crew could be building the first Veterans Village in Wellsville.
These and other smaller, less known, governmental and non-governmental organizations do good work. The world respects them. All we need to do is send ammo more Americans so that they can do a lot more good. We don't need to create a new bureaucracy to run them.
For a healthy 21st century, we need to send missions not missiles into the Global Village. When we field these full-bodied AWSC teams, we win hearts and minds, erase ignorances, deal with disasters, and subdue hatreds.
As our troops are less often drawn into ugly battles, AWSC experiences will make us too smart to stumble into future reckless wars.
For much less than what it has cost for spraying depleted uranium, destroying Iraqi buildings and families, spewing military fuel into the atmosphere... a generation of twenty-one million Americans at home and abroad could rebuild devastated cities and villages, reduce diseases, spread appropriate technologies...
Had we had a working AWSC, New Orleans would have been rebuilt by now. Afghan's opium growers would have had Peace Corps volunteers, protected by our military, helping them diversify their economy. Earthquake and tsunami victims immediately would have had armies of Americans helping them rebuild. Terrorist recruiters would have found thin pickings in radicalizing hearts and minds. Lines of hungry and sick in struggling African nations would shrink. Fewer of our troops would design their lives around prosthetic limbs...
Under the AWSC Congressional Proposals, most of our investment in AWSC volunteers would be recycled into American education, home ownership, retirement, and medical saving accounts. Such service payments for volunteering would help rebuild our middle class, repair our collapsing infrastructure, and raise our public policy IQ. (Financing AWSC http://www.worldservicecorps.us/financing_awsc.htm )
So that we won't need to struggle building another generation of Veterans Villages, tomorrow's vets need People's Lobby's American World Service Corps Congressional Proposals enacted. If the world and we are to survive with dignity, we need a robust AWSC peacefully building sane international relations and nations.
Learn more and help at www.VeteransVillages.org and www.WorldServiceCorps.us
Dwayne Hunn is a Veterans Village Board member and Executive Director, of People's Lobby, sponsor of the American World Service Corps Congressional Proposals, which would dramatically reduce future warring and its disastrous effects.
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