The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

January/February 2004
PTSD/SUBSTANCE ABUSE COMMITTEE REPORT
   
 

Hitting The Ground Running

BY TOM BERGER, CHAIR

The newly constituted PTSD/SA Committee met for the first time November 14 at national headquarters. I am pleased to announce that the Board of Directors confirmed the following committee members: Dottie Barickman, Liz Cannon, Tony Catapano, Bob Corsa, Marsha Four, Larry Goucher, Bob Maras, Sandy Miller, Fr. Phil Salois, Jim Shott, and Mary Ellen White. In addition, Dee Hagge, Steve Mason, Mary Miller, and Nancy Switzer were confirmed as special advisers.

The group hit the ground running on several issues. The committee moved to redesign, update, and reprint the VVA PTSD tri-fold brochure and post it on the VVA website. The brochure was originally designed by Dee Hagge and published for VVA's 20th anniversary. The committee is compiling a catalog and copies of effective PTSD programs and their documentation, including those developed by committee member Tony Catapano and used at the Northport, N.Y., VAMC. 

The committee has begun gathering information about suicide-intervention programs for veterans and has started to plan its program for this summer's Leadership Conference in Nashville. It also initiated discussions about developing a poster to raise public awareness of PTSD.

As many of you have already heard, the final report from the CARES Commissionthe so-called "Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Service" Commissionto VA secretary Principi has been delayed. The delay is due in large part to the outpouring of comments, testimonials, and protest actions by veterans and their allies (special kudos to our friends in Texas and New York) over the plan to close seven VA hospitals and restructure other VA facilities around the country.

Despite the delay, however, the veterans' community must keep up the pressure because of the tremendous negative impact that any such proposed closures and restructuring will have on veterans' mental health programs, especially PTSD programs. I strongly urge you to continue your letters, e-mails, personal visits to legislators, and community actions against the proposed CARES plan. Go to www.va.gov/cares for a description of the process, the full draft plan, as well as the testimony that was delivered at public hearings over the past year.
 

   

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