A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

February 2002/March 2002

PTSD/SUBSTANCE ABUSE COMMITTEE REPORT

Coping With The Unknown

BY STEVE MASON, CHAIR

I once wrote, "A man goes to his war as he goes to his love - alone. And
from neither does he return as before. For war and love exist and the edges
of the human experience and whether 'quick-dead' or 'new-born', Life hangs
in the balance."
     Today, our nation is at war. This time our veteran community which knows
too well the ravages of war, worries for its family as it struggles
to retain personal balance. Our enemies are faceless; their tactics and weapons either varied or unimaginable. We must learn to cope with the unknown. In this, none of us is alone.
     This war is being fought at home and abroad, and we are not alone. Our families are with us. It is like shadow-boxing with a shadow that strikes from the dark. For our children, there really is a monster in the closet. The PTSD/SA Committee has adopted an agenda tailored to help all of us cope with this war. We believe strongly that our
role is two-fold - advocacy and education. We will encourage a standardization of the treatment of PTSD within the 21 VISNs. PTSD and mental illness are separate entities and must be treated as such.
     We are establishing a website to keep us current with advice and information. We are developing a booklet designed to teach our families about PTSD and how to cope with it. Children will be directly addressed in appropriate, sensitive language in this pamphlet. We will establish a lesson plan designed to ensure that VVA members across the country can provide a uniform approach to educate local community based service providers. We encourage and will work for an increase in the number of mental health courts in America.
     Most important, we are coordinating our efforts with all other VVA committees with overlapping interests. We have established a dialogue with the appropriate federal agencies and directors charged to respond fairly and adequately to the increased need for psychological and psychiatric care this new crisis has precipitated for the veterans and their families.
     You may count on us as we count on you. We are one. It is why we will prevail.■
 

   


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