here is an article that speaks of many that work in our circles.
Nadia is the rock behind the Village here in Minnesota.
John Keith has faced his issues is doing well, and has started an online forum for veterans to speak with one another about VA issues and the high rates of suicides experienced by our current veterans. He is a definition of action hero, within two days he had thousands of people signed up.
Lastly I met Mary Ellen in DC during the summit to end Veteran Homelessness in 5 years. Good ole' irish gal if I ever knew one.
Pay attention to the last line of the article because it relates to even me.
I'm doing this practically for skittles.
Although Chaplain Fred Tittle left Vietnam in 1970, he only filed for compensation from the Veterans Administration in 2003.
"I never considered filing a claim; as a matter of fact, it was filed for me ... I'm not sure if I ever would have unless prompted by someone else, another combat veteran. This is one of the reasons I do the work that I do with injured veterans; I know how difficult it is to ask for help."
Tittle is a former combat-disabled Marine who is working as chaplain at Moffett Field, located near Sunnyvale, with combat-disabled veterans as well as active duty members. Most of the injured have traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
The last time I talked to him, he had just helped an Iraq veteran and his family who were living in a homeless shelter find "a more suitable, calm place to stay and get them connected with help and resources." The couple have a young daughter ,and the wife was about to give birth at any moment.
On a given day, Tittle will drive a soldier to her doctor's appointment, defuse a potentially violent altercation with the police and help a confused and frustrated veteran fill out his mountain of forms so he can get his disability compensation. He does not get paid for any of this.
John Keith, an Iraq veteran, was at the lowest point of his life when he e-mailed Nadia McCaffrey last year. McCaffrey's son, Patrick, was killed in Iraq in 2004, and she has since become an advocate and "kind of a mom" to many young veterans who have been flailing, utterly alone and desperate in the months and years after serving their country.
In physical and emotional pain, Keith felt like he couldn't keep trying to get his benefits, trying to deal with the VA, trying to find medications that wouldn't make him have black-outs. It was through McCaffrey's emotional support and practical guidance that he was able to regain his strength and start advocating for himself ---- and others. McCaffrey does not get paid for saving and rebuilding lives.
Mary Ellen Salzano started the California Statewide Collaborative for Our Military and Families because she saw the need to save lives by not only connecting the dots, but connecting the humans. She spends most of her waking hours helping people who are struggling with a myriad of issues and a sense of deep desperation, to get in touch with people who might be able to help them. She does not get paid.
The VA has seen a 26 percent increase in suicides, mostly among 18- to 29-year-old veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's time to create a new kind of work force ---- of paid advocates.