Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sacramento Veterans Community Support Network...

Sacramento Veterans Community Support Network is working hard to prepare for the upcoming educational event at Sacramento City College in September, "Returning Home, from Combat to College and Beyond."

Funding continues to be needed to provide travel and lodging expenses for the event's keynote speaker, John Schupp from Cleveland, and three other speakers who are traveling from southern California. VCSN believes a continental breakfast should be available to all attendees since the program begins at 8am on Friday, September 25, 2009. A "Welcome" reception is planned for out-of-town guests, speakers, and personnel from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, Sacramento County, Sacramento City College, and others amounting to a group of about 25 people is planned for the evening prior to the event.

Since the day-long event will include some panel discussions, VCSN would also like to give our veteran panelists a stipend for being on the panel to help pay for gas. VCSN will continue to evaluate how best to facilitate collaboration among disparate local programs serving the multiple needs of miltary veterans and their families in the Sacramento Area. This program is only one of many ways VCSN is able to assist our veterans with their overall education.

Transitioning back into life from Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else for that matter is difficult. Many veterans returning from active duty as far back as World War II have been expected by society to just jump back into a normal life as if nothing has interfered with or affected their lives. We know that is not possible.

If you are able or interested in supporting the mission of VCSN to educate, communitcate, and advocate for veterans issues financially, or in any other way, please contact VCSN Board President, Jan Wald at 916 622-7360 or email her at or We thank you!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Veterans as a public health issue...

FROM: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report (7/17/09)
11. Mental Health Issues Among Veterans Increase Dramatically [Jul 17, 2009]
A new study finds more veterans being diagnosed with mental health issues. The study was posted Thursday on the web site of The American Journal of Public Health. The New York Times reports: "A new study has found that more than one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who enrolled in the veteran’s health system after 2001 received a diagnosis of a mental health problem, most often post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. The study by researchers at the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco, also found that the number of veterans found to have mental health problems rose steadily the longer they were out of the service. The study, released Thursday, was based on the department health records of 289,328 veterans involved in the two wars who used the veterans health system for the first time from April 1, 2002, to April 1, 2008." The Times reports: "The researchers found that 37 percent of those people received mental health diagnoses. Of those, the diagnosis for 22 percent was post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, for 17 percent it was depression and for 7 percent it was alcohol abuse. One-third of the people with mental health diagnoses had three or more problems, the study found. The increase in diagnoses accelerated after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the researchers found. Among the group of veterans who enrolled in veteran’ s health services during the first three months of 2004, 14.6 percent received mental health diagnoses after one year. But after four years, the number had nearly doubled, to 27.5 percent. The study's principal author, Dr. Karen H. Seal, attributed the rising number of diagnoses to several factors: repeat deployments; the perilous and confusing nature of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there are no defined front lines; growing public awareness of PTSD; unsteady public support for the wars; and reduced troop morale" (Dao, 7/16). Forbes reports: "Curiously, the researchers from the San Francisco VA Medical Center found that most mental health diagnoses were not made in the first year that a veteran entered the VA health-care system, but several years after. This finding supports the recent move to extend VA benefits to five years of free health care, which allows VA doctors the time to detect and treat more mental illness in returning combat veterans, the researchers noted." Forbes notes: "Women had a higher risk for depression, but men had more than twice the risk for drug use problems, the researchers found. Since the start of the Iraq war, mental health problems increased more than fourfold among active-duty personnel and sevenfold for members of the National Guard or Reserve, [lead researcher Dr. Karen] Seal said. Age also played a role in the risk for PTSD, Seal said. While younger active-duty veterans had a higher risk for PTSD, 'among Guard and Reserve members, those over 40 were at significantly higher risk for PTSD than their colleagues under 25,' she said. Moreover, active-duty enlisted veterans in the Army rather than other service branches, or who had multiple tours of duty, thus more combat exposure, were at greater risk for PTSD, Seal said. This was not seen in National Guard and Reserve personnel, she noted" (7/16). Bloomberg reports on the study noting: "The high number of mental health disorders puts the U.S. at risk of 'an epidemic of chronic mental illness, as occurred with Vietnam veterans,' the study's authors wrote. A study published in 1990, Trauma and the Vietnam War Generation, found almost 1 million men, or about 31 percent of the soldiers who served in Vietnam, were diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder. More than one-fourth had symptoms of the illness up to 20 years after their active-duty service" (Olmos, 7/17). The Los Angeles Times reports: "The newest study correlates closely to a 2008 report by the Rand Corp., based on a much smaller sample of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. In that study, about 14% met the criteria for PTSD and 14% for depression" (Chong, 7/16).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Upcoming Veterans Community Support Network Event

The next educational event planned for Sacramento is called, "Returning Home, from Combat to College and Beyond", to be held at Sacramento City College on Friday, Sept. 25, 2009. This will be an all-day event to help educate, inform, and sensitize the educational community to the unique needs of veterans.
As our young men and women return home to higher education, their military training and experiences must be taken into consideration in the classrooms. VCSN, in partneship with Sacramento Valley's community colleges, has been participating in and assisting in organizing similar events since 2007. Particular focus will be on signature conditions of most recent wars: post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and suicide prevention.
These day-long conferences have already proven to be successful in drawing educators from community college and universities, public and private, from California and Nevada together to learn about the special needs of veterans. Target audiences include educators, families, community advocates, and other students who contribute substantially to the re-entry experiences of our returning veterans.
There is also encouragment for colleges to form Veterans Clubs and students to join them. These often prove to be the most effective support group returning veterans can find due to their accessability and connectedness with other veterans in the club. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in joining our all-volunteer group or participating with us in this event, please contact VCSN volunteer President and Co-Chair of the event, Jan Wald at 916 622-7360 or email Thank you, we need community support from YOU!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Introducing Sacramento Veterans Community Support Network

Serving Veterans and their families, 2009
The Sacramento Veterans Community Support Network, VCSN, was created in 2007. A consortium of volunteers from over 50 service providers and government agencies who recognized the need to effectively organize our community's collective resources came together to meet the burgeoning demand by veterans for educational opportunities, housing assistance, employment training, and health care, both physical and mental. Our group now has over 85 agencies, both public and private, participating in our mission.
The increasing number of veterans returning from overseas deployments are encountering substantial challenges in transitioning to a civil, peaceful society. Because demand exceeds the government's capacity to provide for the full scope of veteran's requirements, VCSN is planning for the next, annual educational event for schools and veterans, reorienting both. This creates special opportunities for the public sector to assist with financial sponsorship.
The VCSN is an all-volunteer, certified non-profit, community-based group dedicated to serving the needs of veterans and their families. We invite YOU to join us in our efforts to assist veterans reentering society and re-establishing their lives as they return home from combat. Our next eduational event will be held at Sacramento City College on Friday, September 25, 2009. We need YOUR help. Please contact the VCSN Board President, Jan Wald, at 916 622-7360 or