On December 14, 2008, the Houston Chronicle published a scathing editorial, “Since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and all of the resulting harms to soldiers, civilians, economies and constitutional principles, no segment of society has been more abused and neglected than returning U.S. military veterans.”
With your support, here are examples of how Veterans for Common Sense is turning the tide to change the culture at the Department of Veterans Affairs and assisting all our veterans.
Our advocacy saves lives. In July 2007, VCS sued VA after VA turned away several suicidal veterans, including Iraq War veteran Jonathan Schulze, who earned two Purple Heart Medals. In response to our lawsuit, VA established a toll-free suicide prevention hotline. In its first 15 months the hotline received 85,000 calls and performed more than 2,100 rescues.
We need your financial support of $50 to $100 today so we can keep the pressure on Washington so our service members and veterans receive prompt and high-quality mental healthcare.
Our advocacy publicizes VA problems. In November 2008, VCS worked with the PBS News Hour on an investigative report about suicides. On camera, VA Secretary James Peake denied there was a link between combat and suicides. Our landmark lawsuit also uncovered a scandalous e-mail by a VA psychologist supervisor in Texas discouraging PTSD diagnoses, treatment, and benefits.
VCS needs your financial help so we can begin 2009 with an aggressive mental health campaign for our service members and veterans.
January means change in Washington. VCS sent our “Vision for a Vibrant VA in 2009” to the Presidential Transition Team for President-Elect Barack Obama.
Here’s a summary of what we want to do for our veterans next year, with a heavy focus on mental health conditions, including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI):
—> Publicity. VCS will continue our publicity efforts to encourage our veterans to seek mental healthcare. This helps de-stigmatize PTSD so more veterans will seek treatment earlier when it is more effective.
—> Policies. VCS urges Congress and VA to work together more closely so that VA has enough facilities and staff so that our veterans do not wait for mental healthcare or benefits.
—> Legislation. VCS will press hard for a presumption of service connection for PTSD so that combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD by VA also receive disability benefits for PTSD.
—> Using FOIA. Our Freedom of Information Act campaign forced VA to reveal that VA diagnosed 83,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with PTSD, yet VA only provided PTSD disability benefits to 42,000.
—> Mental Health. VCS will fight for the prompt and full implementation of VA’s Mental Health Strategic Plan so that there are national policies and procedures in place so VA stops turning away veterans with mental health conditions.
—> Mandatory Medical Exams. VCS continues urging the military to implement the 1997 Force Health Protection law and provide pre- and post-deployment medical exams that include exams for both PTSD and TBI. Discrimination against veterans with mental health conditions will decrease when the military examines all combat veterans.
Please be generous with your year-end gift giving. We want you to know that Veterans for Common Sense works tirelessly for our service members and veterans. We file lawsuits, we testify before Congress, and we work with reporters in an effort to change VA’s culture and put our veterans first.
Please consider fitting VCS into your holiday season with a tax-deductible donation of $50 to $100.
Veterans for Common Sense
VCS provides advocacy and publicity for issues related to veterans, national security, and civil liberties. VCS is registered with the IRS as a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity, and donations are tax deductible.
There are Five Easy Ways to Support Veterans for Common Sense
5. Send a check to:
Veterans for Common Sense
P.O. Box 15514
Washington, DC 20003