By: Kevin Chiucchini
This weekend in New York City, up to 25,000 veterans will proudly march up 5th Avenue in uniform with hundreds of thousands of spectators lined up to celebrate their service to our country and military. A beautiful and powerful sight to see, but how many of our veterans are not marching this weekend in their local parade?
On Thursday, Army and Q had the pleasure of speaking to veteran Adrian Atizado, the National Legislative Director for Disabled American Veterans. The DAV is a wonderful service that is one of the nation’s largest charities providing assistance to veterans and their families. More often than not, people prefer to simplify problems that need to be addressed rather than take into account the many factors or pieces that create a whole. Many will come and celebrate the people marching in Saturday’s parade, but what about the people standing in the crowd? Who will help the disabled vet bound to a wheelchair get home later that afternoon? How about the vet with missing limbs that has difficulty feeding and cleaning him or herself?
In the first hour, we discussed the issues that caregivers face not only financially, but emotionally as well. Adrian brought up a startling fact, under current federal laws 80% of severely injured veterans are ineligible for caregiver benefits. So who are the 20%? Only those that have served post September 11th, 2001. A look at an American history book will remind us that we fought quite a few more wars, including World War II, The Vietnam War, Korea, Gulf...the list goes on. The caregivers are usually family members or close friends that have to deal with medical and emotional issues with no formal training. Many of these veterans rely on a combination of public and private services to help transition back into civilian life, and the majority rely on the VA to provide medical services.
Throughout the show, our board was filled with callers that have served in our military and wanted to share their experience returning home. Caller after caller shared similar stories of dealing with PTSD and the destruction it can cause a family. Overall, our veteran callers had many pleasant things to say about their treatment as a veteran and their medical treatment at their local VA hospitals. Also, when asked if the younger generation needs to be taught discipline through military training, almost all felt there should be mandatory military service. One caller said they were disgusted that we were having this conversation, but on the contrary, dialogue happens directly before improvement. A big thank you from Army and Q to all the men and women that have served our country and risked their lives to protect us civilians.