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Saturday, May 28, 2016

On Memorial Day- Keeping Veterans Safe

Found this interesting perspective on Veterans from a retired professional military man, an Admiral and a politician.

Joe Sestak* (D) Calls On Our Nation To Help Keep Our Veterans Out Of Prison (blog by oresmas)

Congressman Sestak Official Congressional headshot.jpg
Former Congressman Joe Sestak USN-Ret

Today, I am commemorating Armed Forces Day inside Pennsylvania’s Graterford Penitentiary with the veterans our nation left behind. 

It’s the 25th anniversary of the prison’s Vietnam Veterans Chapter, and I’m with fellow veterans I’ve come to know over the years, although not all are from Vietnam. Too many are imprisoned there from the more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It’s a long walk to the auditorium down the center corridor of the prison among the inmates. But I can only imagine how tough the walks were for these men when they went “outside the wire” in a foreign land every day for twelve months, not knowing if the loud sound they suddenly heard was a nearby exploding car or a suicide bomber bent on their destruction. Or how it felt when your next step in a minefield might set off a buried booby-trap, taking off a part of you – or apart all of you. Then these men went back to do it again the next year, and then the next, doing it all over again and again, with every footstep, on every day.

The men I visit today are paying for having served our country, and physically surviving. 

During Vietnam, this nation couldn't spell Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), never mind provide treatment for our veterans that bore it when they returned home. Is there any wonder why addiction to a substance that eased their pained memories became their safe harbor when our countrymen didn't provide one?

And it should surprise no one that we have a similar challenge today when our government approved psychotropic drugs for over 100,000 warriors as they repeatedly re-deployed to our two recent wars, even though the federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved many of these drugs for either PTSD or for those under the age of 25. 

Nor when both Veteran and active military hospitals delay and purposely non-diagnose their needed mental treatment. 

Just scan the news of claims backlogs, hidden waiting lists and indolent VA health care employees. Justice? Not from the Justice Department that would not prosecute the $2 trillion-dollar HSBC Bank for laundering Iranian terrorist funds because of the possible “collateral consequences” of bank withdrawals. But “justice” did prosecute a young veteran for carrying thousands in drug money as he dealt with the mental “collateral damage” of the war – alone. What an ironic message for our military recruiters: the cost for someone fighting the war of terror is greater than the cost for supporting terror.

*Joseph Ambrose "Joe" Sestak, Jr. (born December 12, 1951) is an American politician and retired U.S. Navy Three-star admiral. A member of the Democratic Party, he represented Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011 and was the Democratic nominee for the United States Senate in 2010, losing to Republicannominee Pat Toomey. He was and remains the highest-ranking military official ever elected to the United States Congress.[1]

Graduating near the top of his class at the United States Naval Academy, Sestak served in the United States Navy for over 30 years where he rose to three star admiral rank. He served as the Director for Defense on the National Security Council staff underPresident Bill Clinton and held a series of operational commands, including commanding the USS George Washington carrier strike group during combat operations in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean in 2002.

Sestak was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006 and re-elected in 2008. He declined to run for re-election in 2010, instead running for the Senate. He faced incumbent Senator Arlen Specter (who had recently switched from the Republican Party) inthe Democratic primary and defeated him 54% to 46%. In the general election, he was narrowly defeated by Republican nomineePat Toomey, 51% to 49%, a margin of 80,229 votes out of almost 4 million cast. He sought a rematch with Toomey in the 2016 election but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Katie McGinty.

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