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July 1st, 2009
12:55 PM ET

America's Military: Where to get and give help

Today in the CNN NewsRoom Kyra Phillips focused on health care and help for America's veterans.

We found several sites set up by the military and private groups to help military members, their families and veterans.

Click on these links for help:
New Directions Inc.
Swords To Plowshares
Coalition For Veterans

The Army's site for suicide prevention
Defense Department site for psychological health and traumatic brain injury
TAPS private charity that helps military and families in trauma
Community of Veterans aiding vets of Iraq and Afghanistan
Coalition for Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs has set up a national suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Also if you want to help groups who help veterans you can go to our Impact Your World page to see how you can donate.

Filed under: Impact Your World • Kyra Phillips
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Glenda Sherman

    My daughter is getting her Ph.D. in psychology and TODAY she started her internship at the San Francisco VA Hospital. She only interviewed at the VA hospitals. It is with enthusiasm and empathy for the returning vets that she wanted to work with the vets.

    July 1, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  2. James Klipp

    More fluff from the VA about VA and DOD Hospitals. I'm a 20-year Air Force retiree, and WAS counting on my TriCare coverage as my health insurance. After dealing with painful bone spurs for the past two years and getting nothing but referrals to podiatrists and physical therapists, I took out Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) at work. So, after two years of getting run-around after run-around after run-around at Walter Reed, I went to TWO appointments using my FEHB and I've had an MRI that revealed a partially separated Achilles tendon in need of surgery, AND I've been scheduled for that surgery – in less than 3 MONTHS! When retirees go to Walter Reed, we are "back-burner fodder". Walter Reed's capacity is OVERRUN with wounded soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq – who RIGHTFULLY take precedent. BUT, Tricare will NOT allow retirees to use other military medical facilities in the DC area, NOR will Tricare allow retirees to utilize network providers instead of going to Walter Reed. Even though it tyipcally takes me 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get to Walter Reed, I'm continually told "You only live 20 miles from Walter Reed, as the crow flies." I asked Tricare, "What if the crow had to navigate DC traffic and had to drive around a river to get where he was going?" No answer. Tricare Prime has failed me for the LAST time. I'm now disenrolled from Tricare Prime and using Tricare Standard as supplemental insurance to my FEHB. I've never felt like I was "just an old f*rt retiree", until getting passed around from one referral to another (while waiting 10-20 days for each) courtesy of Walter Reed. If you're not an Afghanistan or Iraq veteran, don't expect to be any priority of either Walter Reed's or Tricare's. Yes, I'm bitter. Bitter as hell. Yes, active duty soldiers must take priority at DOD health care faciliies. But it does NOT mean it's right to just forget about everyone else.

    July 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  3. Carolyn Lewis

    What about the widows? I am a widow of a Vietnam vet who was receiving 70% disability. He had PTSD, Agent Orange, diabetes, was depressed, had nightmares, blood clots, and was being treated at a VA hospital and a VA clinic. He was hospitalized a number of times, the hospital conditions were often deplorable, and he died in October 2004 of a blood clot while preparing for bed. He was shot down twice in Vietnam and had a Purple Heart. He died with shrapnel still in him. YET, I have been told for the past 4 1/2 years that my widow's benefits are being denied because he did not die from injuries related to his service in Vietnam! I have not received one dime and have been appealing these decisions for 4 years. Now I am told the case in in DC and it will be several more months before I get a response. By the way, it took a year to get even the first reply to my request for benefits. I am extremely frustrated, but not giving up - even after all of this time.

    July 1, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Service Women

    The Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) is another organization dedicated to helping veterans. Please see the site for more info.

    SWAN works to improve the welfare of current U.S. Servicewomen and to assist all women veterans. We also serve all current and past servicemembers who have experienced military sexual trauma.

    July 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  5. Michael E. Duggins

    Kyra Phillips-

    Thank you so much for your constant concern for better treatment by the VA for veterans. You are one of the only voices in this conversation to make right the wrongs that the VA bureaucratic nightmare is causing that is torturing those who have put it all on the line for their country. I want to share with you a letter to President Obama that was emailed on 6/16. I have had no response. My situation is getting worse every day to the point that my life is almost more than I can bear anymore. The 4 years I have been begging for help has left me depressed with what seems like a hopeless situation that will continue even longer. I need help! I have waited and waited and jumped through all the hoops that the VA have put me through. Fighting the VA has been a more traumatic experience than being in Viet Nam and has made recovering from my PTSD almost impossible.

    President Obama-

    I am contacting you as a last resort to salvage my life. I am a disabled Viet Nam veteran who is currently appealing the original VA decision of 50% disability. I have been in this long nightmare with the VA for 4 years now. I just testified at a BVA hearing for my appeal only to find out that the boards decision will take another 6-12 months. I am 59 years old and homeless for 8 years. I have worn out the support of family and friends for a place to sleep and money. I have not been able to work for over 10 years due to my mental and physical disabilities. I had hoped that I was finally going to get a decision only to be told to wait some more. If the decision is favorable to my case then I will have the financial resource to rebuild my life so that I can salvage what time I have left. If my appeal is denied then I will know that it is time to give up trying to endure the daily torture on myself and others, my life, my hopes and dreams, will be done. I have also been denied Social Security disability, for reasons I do not understand, and do not qualify for food stamps.

    My life is so miserable that I doubt that I will ever overcome this demon of PTSD that I have been diagnosed with by the doctors at the Phoenix VA hospital. I need the opportunity to have a life to even have a chance. No amount of pills are going to give me what is essential to a productive life.

    Sir, I am begging you. Please help me in any way that you can. I am at the end of my rope. Another year in this hell may be more than I can endure. If you do not respond to me or if you will not help me then I will know that I have tried absolutely everything within my power to help my situation.

    I pray to God that you actually read this plea. I believe in you and your sense of fairness.

    July 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  6. jaqueline reichert

    I want to commen you on your topic of veterans and suicide!!
    i was at the base when my son was told at a supposedly stand down.
    The kernel gets up and tells everyone IS THIS HOW YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED! It was an insult to these men and woman, all he cared about was how this army base and that division which has the most suicides this year look! He cared about his ass and the upper brass and everyone new it.

    It was all bull and they were insulted most of these people have been to Iraq and Afghanistan numerous times.
    They are still going.

    Also Health care forget Mental Health! My son has custody of his two kids no one in my town will take Tricare. I am keeping for the summer you have to take them to the emergency room.
    Mind you my son is active military even he runs into this problem!
    I do not know what has happened even on base when he got home from Afghanistan he got his children and had to change the tricare to tricare north. He had to wait to take a sick child with a high fever two or three days.

    You can forget about Health Care when you get out. The TriCare all military use for them and dependents. No one takes it anymore

    I will say when Bush was in office they all took tri-care the majority of them. Doctors and hospitals

    This is a travesty and bull the lady is talking about we cannot get normal health care unless you want to travel 45 miles.
    It makes me very angry.

    Thanks for bringing this out! For someone who cares about the military so much Obama! It has gotten worse

    July 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Kevin Matlock

    My brother, Dennis who was in Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion,3rd Marines in 1966 to1967, came home with PTSD. We thought he was just being quiet. We knew he had seen and been involved in heavy combat in the jungles of Vietnam, but thought he would get over it. After 40 years of not having any close friends, except other Marines, bouts of insomnia, being anti-social and alchohol abuse, some old Marine buddies came to see him and talked him into reaching out to the VA for help. He has his paperwork in order, but keeps encountering barriers. Red Tape, bureaucracy . It has been three years now! One more thing, he is dying.
    He is sixty years old now, and still works as a day laborer. He is proud and still has Marine resolve, but is overwhelmed with the system. Who can I get as an advocate for him?

    July 1, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  8. Sandy

    Veterans are long overdue for responsible and comprehensive healthcare. Yes,'ve heard this story before but most of you did not live it. My brother and many, many of my friends were drafted for Vietnam at the age of 18....what a horrible thankless war it was. Young, young men literally came home in body bags, without limbs, many extremely traumatized by sights forever burned in their hearts and minds. And; all came home to a reception of animosity and protest. Really, really a war at home and in Vietnam with young kids who reason being there and no choice. Heartbreaking, truly heartbreaking!

    Their health coverage? What health coverage? It was so subpar and inadequate it was ridiculous. These brave boys were thrown away in every circumstance. I visited my brother in the VA Hosp and it was dirty, people were screaming from pain and disregard and diagnosis was left to more of a guinea pig environment.

    So I am happy to see our Veterans being taken care of, but the next time you see a homeless Vietnam Vet on the streets or next to a exit, at least say, thank you, really thank you for your service. It hasn't been until the last decade they were actually honored and they still fight, if they can, for benefits. Shame on you who make fun or say...well, they should just get over it. The images are very still clear in my brother's mind even as successful as he's become in life.

    July 1, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  9. Kathy

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE keep pressure on the VA to make the VA hospitals safe & clean for the veterans. They can't even keep Walter Reed safe for them and that's right there under the nose of Congress. They can't have procedures like colonoscopies and prostate treatments without danger. We need to do something!!! It's not right.

    July 1, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  10. Clare Erland

    Kyra – it's not important why you lost the feed during Mrs. McLean's comments, what is important is her message. How about finding a way to find out what she wanted to say when she was interrupted by the loss of the feed and have it on your program tomorrow if there is no time to do it today. I am a citizen who is very concerned about the rising rate of suicide in the military and would very much like to hear what this mother who just lost her son has to say. I do not believe I am alone.

    July 1, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  11. Juliana M. Devine

    Kyra.....I appreciate your authenticity in reporting. You consistently communicate feelings and respect for topics and those interviewed profoundly through your body language. As a therapist, I am trained to read such cues and just wanted to share that you are one of the most genuine anchors in the business.
    Thank you for the focus on the plight of military service people. I am affiliated with the VA and hope to work for them more extensively in the future; your segments help to inform and highlight the myriad of issues they face.
    Thank you from a Californian born in Atlanta!

    July 1, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  12. US Army Vet

    I want to thank CNN and Kyra for their commitment to cover veterans issues. This segment proves that no matter which party is in power CNN is willing to ask tough questions and demand accountability. At a time when most other news networks have moved on to other stories we can always count on Kyra to keep our issues front and center.

    July 1, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  13. Paul Sullivan

    Kyra, Thank you for raising awareness about the healthcare and disability benefit needs of all veterans, including Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, by interviewing Tammy Duckworth, an assistant secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Yes, there is a crisis at VA. While VA diagnosed 115,000 Iraq War veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), VA only gives disability benefits to 51,000 of those veterans. After all we learned from prior wars, there appear to be more than 60,000 veterans who fell through the cracks. We hope VA will support HR 952, a bill to streamline disability claims for veterans with PTSD. Thanks for a timely interview, and thanks to Sec. Duckworth for continuing to fight for veterans after she left the military. Best, Paul Sullivan, Veterans for Common Sense, Washington, DC.

    July 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  14. Larry

    Thanks Sonya and Kyra for the links. You two always go the distance.

    July 1, 2009 at 7:48 pm |
  15. Nick

    Very sad to hear these suicides. I come from Fort Campbell, KY, home of the 101st Airborne Division, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and 5th Special Forces Group. They currently have the the highest suicide rate in the Army. Like the parents of this Marine stated, it is sometimes difficult for warriors to talk to someone or vent. We are trained to "suck it up and drive on to complete the mission". And when you do go out and seek professional help, you are more often than not talking to someone who doesn't have any idea what it's like to live the life of a soldier or marine and more importantly, what it's like to be in combat.

    Not all troops have the same experience in combat. Some sit in an air-conditioned office in a relatively safe location the whole deployment. Others are out on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan or streets of Iraq and flying aircraft low to the earth at night avoiding the enemy. And let me tell doesn't help when we turn on the television and all we see is Michael Jackson or another politician (who should be setting the example for citizens) involved in a scandal while we are on the other side of the world putting our lives on the line for the country we love.

    The following video is from a 24-year old medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) crew chief that sees some of the worst of war and tells it like it is regarding his way of coping.

    July 2, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  16. SFC R

    I just got finished watching the report about the young ex-soldier that ended up homeless and abusing alcohol. while i feel for him, much of what he stated is untrue. i'm in iraq now for the 2nd time and it upsets me when people that don't seem to have a plan when leaving the military, find that the military is the reason for their issues. when i departed active duty, it was mandatory for me to go to the TAP. another choice that he had was to re-join the military when he saw that his life was not panning out. the military is like any other job that one decides to leave, you have to be prepared to leave, you have to have money saved up. many young soldiers don't think about that and leave with only their last paycheck. like anything else, if you aren't ready for it, you will have many problems when the time arrives.

    July 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  17. Richard Stitt

    Sonya and Kyra....Great and helpful information.....but the link to is wrong...(a typo) have sword-to-plowshares which does not link. Thanks for the story and thanks for keeping the pressure on this administration and the VA to provide better help to our much appreciated veterans.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  18. Carlos Soto Turver

    Attn. Ms. Kyra Philips,

    Years ago former presidential candidate, Mr. Ross Perott, came up with a great solution for the unemployed: That all legitimate businesses hire a minimum of 1 person. With a fiscal tax incentive authorized by the U.S. Government for each person employed from the today quoted 14.7 million, it would get the 6.5 million out of the unemployment lines that would lessen the financial drain on local, state and federal governments that issue unemployment checks.
    When will it be mentioned by the media that a national health care program could be partially financed by taxing all non profit religious groups that continue to meddle government affairs! Politically incorrect or not! What happened to the "separation of church and state?" How could these groups complain...those taxes would be used to help people of all faiths!

    July 2, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  19. Steve Witty

    Thanks for doing this story. Unfortunately your links for New Directions and Swords to Plowshares are wrong. These are the correct links:

    Steve Witty
    New Directions, Inc.

    July 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  20. Carrie A

    Fixed! Thank you, Richard.

    July 2, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  21. Carrie A

    Hi Steve – the links should be OK now. Thanks!

    July 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  22. Milton Smith

    I wonder just how much leg ups you need to get on the boat with the secret experienments like genetic enginering hybrids, clones, cybernetic bots hey Kyra. I wonder what the Japanese clone army will look like and how fast they can roll them off the assembly line. Kyra I wonder how fast the laser systems can knock out the hail storm missile attacks because I think it just might happen since evrything has apattern like a designed system of events cryptanalysis.

    July 4, 2009 at 8:39 am |
  23. kohkan shamsi

    the superficiality of US media became apparant byt the death of Michael Jackson. Just before his death, Iran was a major threat to democracy, center for human rights voilation, and a growing neclear threat. Nida' death was hailed as a symbol of resistance. since Jackson died, Iran is no more a threat, no twitters from Iran, killings do not matter.
    Ahmedinijad may have something to do with Jackson's death. He or his advisors must have known/predicted the fickle behavior of US media.

    July 7, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  24. Robin

    I am in favor of a public option for health care. A public option will be cheaper and will press private insurance companies to compete. Republicans are against a public option because most of them are in the pockets of private health insurers who control costs and of course their profits. I am at a loss as to why Republicans are against this private option, when they seem to be in foavor of the free enterprise system. Do they, Republicans, beleive that free enterprise should only be for private companies who control costs. A public option will become part of the free enterprise system that we all embrace.

    July 16, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  25. Rita Eastman

    Thank you for any attention given to the VA hospitals... they need funds and staffing so badly... My husband appealed the VA decisions for almost 25 years and finally got the compensation and health care that he deserved.. so I say to all...keep appealing over and over and never stop.... Don't give up !!! I know how dissapointing it is and how hard it is but you have to not give up.... get help from any Veterans organization you can ....keep trying until you find one that will help.... don't ever go to any appointments by yourself... always go with someone who cares... Don't give up !!! Believe me we understand after 25 years of fighting....

    November 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  26. linda

    I remember my mother told me about the food droppings during WW2. blessings from heaven. Marshall help thanks to the US.
    It must be a option to drop food and water.

    January 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
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