By Nathan Bullock
While Congress has recessed, we continue to work hard and stay busy fighting for you in Washington, D.C. This past Friday, we attended two government briefings to learn what is being done in two different realms of veterans’ issues.
We started the day with a briefing for VSOs on mental health programs offered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. There are an enormous amount of resources being provided and developed to reach out to veterans and their families covering a wide range of mental health issues.
Some of the highlighted ones included: the Veterans Crisis Line (www.veteranscrisisline.net) which offers confidential help to veterans and their families, and multiple new smart phone apps such as PTSD Coach which can all be downloaded on your smart phone: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/ptsdcoach.asp.
Another Web resource is www.MaketheConnection.net which allows you to privately explore information and shows true stories of veterans who overcame challenges.
We heard a presentation from a peer support associate about the great work they are doing in many VA health centers and hospitals around the country. We were also given a preview of a new website that will compile a number of resources related to veterans in the workplace run by Dr. Sarah Landes. We will post the link as soon as it is officially up and running.
We also attended the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) briefing with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Affairs. This is a semi-annual briefing attended by VSOs and other concerned groups who work specifically on issues pertaining to POW/MIA service members. We learned a great deal about the current issues facing the DPMO throughout the world from Korea to Europe to Southeast Asia. In many cases, it is difficult for them to continue their efforts due to geopolitical restrictions in places such as North Korea and Laos.
Another important aspect that was highlighted at this meeting was the need for organizations such as AMVETS to keep this office and the government at large accountable to our veterans and citizens. We must, by our voices and presence, push them to fulfill their promises and the mission they are tasked to carry out on our behalf. We joined other organizations in raising pointed questions that let the Deputy Assistant Secretary know how seriously we take these matters. He thanked us for the pressure this community provides to make sure they are doing the job right.
These meetings were great reminders that it is not just we at National Headquarters who were in the room, but all of you throughout the country who are giving us the strength and ability to represent you and your views and apply pressure on our public officials to make sure they continue to work effectively for us all.