Friday, August 28, 2009

Veterans Community Support Network establishes website...

Sacramento Veterans Community Support Network has established a new website at Although portions of the site are still being developed, there are current events, valuable service contacts of actual people with phone numbers that you can speak to about your needs.

If you have any questions, please email and a volunteer will respond to you. Thank you, we welcome you to join us in supporting our veterans as they return home to re-integrate back into our social system.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

PBS Frontline: The Soldiers Heart - Veterans Coming Home

"Frontline" on PBS Sacramento channel 6, just broadcast a special on Veterans coming home from Iraq written, produced, and directed by Raney Aronson. This program goes to the heart of why Sacramento Veterans Community Support Network exists. The quotes below are meant for educational purposes.

"As the war in Iraq continues, the first measures of it's psychological tolls are coming in. A medical study estimates that more than one in seven returning veterans are expected to suffer from major depression, anxiety, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder".

To read the transcripts of this important broadcast, go to

Here are some exerpts of the transcripts from this important television broadcast:

"NARRATOR: In the Civil War, soldiers who showed signs of such a disorder were said to have "nostalgia" or be suffering from "soldier's heart." In World War I, the condition was called "shell shock," in World War II, "battle fatigue."

Lt. Col. DAVE GROSSMAN: In World War II, we really had the first real understanding of the post-traumatic casualties and psychoses and the neuroses that would derive from it, but it wasn't until Vietnam that we really put our finger on it.

NARRATOR: Nearly one in three Vietnam veterans would eventually suffer from emotional problems. At first, they were said to have "post-Vietnam syndrome." But after years of study, it became clear that all of the various names were describing the same reactions to combat and a specific syndrome. The American Psychiatric Association created a new diagnosis which included both psychological and biological symptoms. They called it "post-traumatic stress disorder," or PTSD.

Lt. Col. DAVE GROSSMAN: Folks, the point I want to make to you is this. Your enemy is denial."........


"ROB SARRA: There's a connotation by your name, at that point, kind of a little check by your name, like, "OK, now he's," you know, "saying he's got combat stress," or whatever. The thing is, you're not supposed to show any weakness. And refusing to go on a mission and then me saying, "I've got to go get some help" are two things that really showed weakness.

And mainstream Marines are, like, "What's wrong with this guy?" You know, "He's a sergeant. Sergeants are supposed to be supermen."

ANDREW POMERANTZ, M.D., U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs: The stigma to receiving mental health services inside the military is huge. I think the biggest barrier that I hear about is being thought of as a wimp— you know, someone who just can't hack it in the midst of a culture of people who can."......

"NARRATOR: In late September, 2003, Staff Sergeant Andrew Pogany arrived in Iraq. Andrew was a military interrogator and a member of the U.S. Army special forces, one of the most elite units in the military. Less than a week after landing in country, Andrew saw the mutilated body of a dead Iraqi and began to suffer from panic attacks.

Staff Sgt. ANDREW POGANY, U.S. Army Special Forces: I started shaking. I was sweating. It got to the point where I was hallucinating. The most frightening or bizarre thing about it was that I had no clue as to what was happening. And I couldn't turn it off and it wouldn't go away, and I couldn't clear my mind.

NARRATOR: After two days with no relief, Andrew was sent north to Tikrit, where he met with a mental health specialist in the field.".....

"NARRATOR: Cheyenne recommended Andrew be given the standard treatment for someone with combat stress, three days of rest with the "Restoration Team."

CHEYENNE FORSYTHE: We delivered our recommendations to Sergeant Pogany's command one or two days later, and that's when I saw what Sergeant Pogany was up against.

NARRATOR: According to Andrew, his command had opposed his requests to get help from the start. Now his command refused the Combat Stress Control Team's recommendations. As Cheyenne looked on, he says, Andrew's sergeant major ordered Andrew to stay away from his fellow soldiers, calling him a coward."

CHEYENNE FORSYTHE: It was shocking to see how the sergeant major responded. It was shocking to see him berate Sergeant Pogany in front of us.

NARRATOR: Andrew says the verbal attacks continued the next day.

ANDREW POGANY: They berated me for an hour. They called me everything from a failure to a coward to telling me that if this would have happened 50 years ago, they would take me out back and just shoot me. And at that point, I'm just, like, stunned.

NARRATOR: Andrew was sent home by his command to Fort Carson, the base from which he had deployed. And one week later, he was charged with cowardly conduct before the enemy.".....

"NARRATOR: In fact, when the Army did their own survey of troops serving in Iraq, nearly half of those most in need of psychological help reported that they felt if they asked for such help, their leaders would blame them for the problem, that they would be seen as weak and that their unit would have less confidence in them."

Monday, August 24, 2009

View from a Vietnam Veteran in our Community Support Network

Here is one Sacramento veteran’s viewpoint on the emerging comparisons between Vietnam and Afghanistan, submitted to the Veterans Community Support Network. This VCSN member knows what our veterans and active military are going through right now...from experience.

"I volunteered for the Army because I couldn’t get a job until after my military draft requirements were fulfilled. I served in 1966 (MACV in Tan Son Nhut) during the early stages of the Vietnam War while U.S. forces were still ramping up.

Peter Baker’s enlightening but sobering article,“Could Afghanistan Become Obama’s Vietnam?” (New York Times, 22 Aug 2006), triggered deep memories and foreboding emotions that those of us who share a kinship with those currently under fire could become victims of circumstances not of their choosing.

An important role for the Veterans Community Support Network over the next few years will be to help differentiate the responsibilities between (A) our country’s warriors who execute orders they gave an oath to obey, and (B) our country’s elected officials and others in the media who may have an axe to grind against whomever is our commander-in-chief at the time.

In the coming months and years, we are likely to hear disparagement of America’s efforts and strategies in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. These voices will likely claim that the situation is “unwinnable” or there is no common understanding of what “victory” is. We will also hear voices from the other side of the question who will claim that we cannot revise our troop deployment plans downward because it will cause the sacrifices in blood and treasure already spent to be dishonored. In the middle, the troops who have been, are, or will be deployed to help stabilize this dangerous part of our world will be caught in the middle, trying to do their jobs, with uncertain support by the U.S. public.

A recent poll of Americans revealed ominous findings by showing for the first time that 57 percent of Americans think things are going badly for the United States in Afghanistan, compared with 33 percent who think they are going well (New York Times and CBS News, July 2007).

How this will all play out over the next few years is very uncertain and difficult to predict. What is not uncertain and not difficult to predict, however, is that these hostilities will present tremendous challenges to America’s military forces and their families. These challenges will become increasingly difficult to address, particularly those challenges that compete for resources needed by other worthy efforts.

With this in mind, the Sacramento VCSN is to be congratulated for launching a cohesive effort to make sure that this time, our returning warriors are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, even if the public mood toward that conflict turns more negative as the difficulties in achieving success become even more apparent."

Bud Lee

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Forming relevant committees for Veterans Community Support Network

Sacramento Veterans Community Support Network's (VCSN) highest priority right now is to prevent and reduce barriers or delays to veteran transition needs. To that end, we are currently in process of forming committees to address the following issues. If you are interested in joining us, please contact our Board President, Jan Wald, at 916 622-7360 and consider attending our next monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8th at 2pm in Sacramento:

Employment Committee:
The purpose of this committee is to provide information on upcoming Veterans Job Fairs/Benefits Workshops and Hire a Vet Job Fairs to VCSN membership who in turn forward to veterans and all service providers. Members provide information on job opportunities to VCSN membership who in turn forward to veterans and all service providers. We contact and invite potential employers to Veterans Job Fairs/Benefits Workshops and Hire a Vet Job Fairs throughout the greater Sacramento area. Committee members host and/or support a series of Veterans Job Fairs/Benefits Workshops and Hire a Vet Job Fairs throughout the greater Sacramento area. Our goal is to establish a Veterans’ Employment Committee with its own funding to assist veterans with items such as special clothing, licenses, certificates, etc., as necessary for employment; also to establish Employment Assistance Networks & Work Programs for veterans.

Education Committee:
The purpose of this committee is to provide veterans-specific seminar workshops to deal with veterans issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), Job Retention and Substance Abuse. We strive to provide a forum to address the signature injuries of the most recent conflicts – PTSD and TBI– which are often undiagnosed until after some trauma has occurred. Our goal is also to provide a forum to focus on the family of returning veterans and the difficulties in adjusting to normalcy after living in an asymmetric combat zone. We are in process of forming a day-long educational event on Septemeber 25th at Sacramento City College to elevate public awareness and understanding of the signature injuries referred to above as well as sensitize educators to issues specific to veterans in the classroom.

Housing Committee:
The purpose of this committee is to provides outreach and link homeless veterans to housing service organizations, locate available federal & state government resources for housing projects, and to submit applications for every possible avenue of housing funds. Our goal is to create suggestions for housing solutions, locate and recommend sites for temporary and permanent supportive housing for veterans, and develop a permanent "ALPHA house" forSacramento area veterans.

Health Committee:
The purpose of this committee is to research organizations that meet veterans varying health needs, locate free medical, dental and vision services available for dishonorably discharged veterans and veterans without insurance for these services, and distribute the information to Sacramento Veterans Community Support Network members who will forward the informtion to veterans in need and all service providers. Our goal is to provide a range of health-related support services, all intended to facilitate the veterans’ “transition home” experience.