|This website is dedicated to the raising
of awareness of the Plight of our
Veterans trying to get help through the
VA system! And to educate the
American Public to the existence of the
Vet Center program with the intent of
procuring additional funding to
Save Our Veterans!!!
|This is the letter I sent out into the
void of the internet appealing for help.
I launched it on March 3rd, 2005
after meeting some of our returning
Vets, reading the GAO report, reading
many articles about this issue and
finding that nothing was being done. I
wanted to DO something! I hope it
helps! Thank you! Jonelle
|Tavernier woman fights for Iraq vets
BY BILL CITARA, Staff Writer
Posted-Thursday, April 21, 2005 1:24 PM EDT
When Johnny (and Judy) come marching home from Iraq, they may find the country that sent
them to war isn't providing all the help they need to recover from it.
That's why Jonelle Kop of Tavernier has made it her personal crusade to shame the government
into doing more for the estimated 15 percent of servicemen and women who will return from Iraq
and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"They're hurting," she says of them. "They're hurting big time."
Kop should know.
Her ex-husband emerged from a 1½-year stint in Vietnam with PTSD; after years of battling, the disease the couple
She blames much of it on treatment that was too little, too late.
"The sooner you get help, the less severe the symptoms will be," she says. "Without treatment, the disease
Her battle now is with the Veterans' Administration (VA) and federal legislators, who she says are refusing the
adequately fund a network of 206 vet centers across the country.
To that end, Kop has created an online petition, so far signed by more than 100 people nationwide, requesting federal
legislators to provide funds to establish additional centers and increase staffing levels.
The centers, established in 1979 by an act of Congress, are under the auspices of the VA but independent of it.
They offer service men and women a variety of services, from job fairs and benefits assistance to individual, group and
It's the centers' independence and confidentiality that make them more attractive options for veterans suffering from
PTSD than traditional VA programs, Kop maintains.
If you plan to make the military a career, "the last thing you want on your record is ‘has mental problem,'" she says.
She's afraid that as the war in Iraq drags on, the problems of returning veterans will only get worse unless the vet
centers get more resources.
"It's going to be like Vietnam," she says. "They're not going to get help. It's happening right now."
Bill Citara can be reached at 852-3216 or by e-mail at email@example.com
Link to the story
|to send an e-mail to your Senator, your
Representative The President ,and to sign
Please include your name, hometown, state and zip
and we will do the rest!
|My name is Jonelle Kop and I need your help! My husband was a Combat Marine, a Vietnam Vet,
and 100% disabled by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The only place that he could get help
for this mental disorder, that actually helped, was at our local Vet Center (a separate part of the
VA). But because help was not even available until decades after the war, for him, they work for
survival, not recovery! But this letter is about our NEW veterans, and the FACT that Vet Centers
don't have enough counselors, so help is STILL not available, not the way it needs to be to save
and improve their lives! (Most Vet Centers only have four employees.) To save them, and those
that love them, from the anguish that can come from their service and can permeate their
thoughts, their emotions, their souls, for the rest of their lives, Vet Centers need more
counselors! I need your help to make sure what happened to my husband does not happen to
them – not now!!!
But first a little history: Many years ago, Vietnam veterans fought hard to establish counseling
centers outside the huge bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration Medical Centers to help
veterans with stress, anxiety, depression and similar effects of combat. Congress established and
insisted on the formation and funding of the Vet Center Outreach program as a separate arm of
the VA. One of many program hallmarks was hiring combat veterans themselves to find and treat
other combat veterans with readjustment problems. The Vet Centers help is immediate, easily
accessed, always free, and given in a comfortable, welcoming environment. They are located in
small community settings, away from the hospitals, in places where Veterans feel safe to go. They
are completely anonymous from the system and their entire goal is to do whatever necessary to
help the veteran recover from the horrors of war. Because PTSD, if left untreated, is chronic and
progressive, it is absolutely necessary to treat this disorder as soon as possible after coming
home. This did not happen for the Vietnam Veteran! Nor for the Veterans from many wars after that
one. And it is NOT happening for our Veterans coming home today!!!!! This is why I need your help.
I have seen first hand, what happens to a brave and courageous boy, whose only desire was to
protect his country, his family, and his friends, and is afflicted by this terrible disorder! And I am
watching it happen again, to boys and girls, men and women, who are fighting for our freedom!
They come home with the 1,000 mile stare, that shell shocked look, like a puppy who has been
beaten but still tries to be loving and caring and ‘normal’. But when you look at some of them
when they don’t know it, it is like they are in a different world, a place of terror and horror and
helplessness. A place that will get harder and harder to ignore and will continue to intrude
everyday, until and unless they get help! Not only are our brave men and women dying or being
wounded overseas, they are dying, or suffering psychological wounds, over here! Suicides are
already happening and happening with more and more frequency! And the counselors know it,
and the government knows it, and the VA knows it!! Even the media knows it and the news articles
are getting more and more frequent. Heck, even prime time TV shows like ER are highlighting
their pain. And if you have looked in the eyes of one of these Veterans, in your heart, you know it
Yet the proverbial wheel of Government is turning with agonizing slowness to provide the help
needed to stem the tide of pain and death. The Government Accountability Office just released a
study that declared that the VA is woefully inadequate in providing help. And while the VA has
provided 50 temporary hires for Vet Centers(less than one per state) to try to reach out to all of
these 150,000 brave men and women it is woefully inadequate! In addition, they have not provided
ANY positions for Vet Center counselors to actually HELP them, once and if they find them!!! If you
ever spent any time in one of these Vet Centers, you would find that they are already working
their butts off helping those lucky enough to have found them! How are they supposed to do
OK – let’s cut to the chase. Here is what is needed.
1) More outreach people. People who can go to the veteran when they come home! Who are
trained to recognize PTSD can attend the Drill weekends and homecoming events (if any) and talk
to these guys and gals one on one. People to talk to the families, who are frequently first to
recognize problems with their loved one’s. People who can help the Veteran get the help they
need, one Veteran at a time if necessary!
2) More counselors that can actually do the counseling and provide the help necessary to stop
the progression and provide RECOVERY! It IS possible, if caught early enough!
3) More and better staffed Vet Centers and Vet Center “Outstations” with outreach people and
counselors. This should include outstations near, but not on, all major military bases and clusters
of activated Reserve units. And more Vet Center counselors to cover VA community medical
clinics and help all combat vets. This will allow many returning combat vets to get help
confidentially, and again, save lives.
4) The Vet Center program should be given the most credible voice in the VA regarding the needs
of these new veterans. All Resources necessary to fulfill these needs must be given to the Vet
Centers, or reassigned if necessary from other VA sources.
This very successful program is totally hampered from doing what is necessary by lack of funding
for staff to cover new Vets and is holding them back from doing the best job in the VA of helping
these new Vets with PTSD. They lack of the very freedom that allow them to help where the VA has
been unable to do! That is why the program exists in the first place!!! And this is where you can
Following is a petition that I am putting out there into the world in hopes that people like you care
enough to help! To be able to say to these brave men and women that “It Matters, that THEY
MATTER! All you have to do is to copy and past this letter and the petition with the signatures to a
new e-mail. Put your name and address on the bottom and send it on to all the people on your e-
mail list! Then they can do the same. When the number of people signed reaches 200 (or divisible
by 200), send it to me at: SaveOurVets@AOL.com. I will then forward it on to the President, the
Congress, the State Representatives, the Senate, the VA, the media and anyone else I can think
of! If there are enough of us who care, then maybe we can get something done!
If you care enough and want to do more than that, take a few minutes and send out your own e-
mails! You can find the appropriate e-mail addresses at SaveOurVets.com. If we can deluge the
Powers That Be with faxes and e-mails, maybe someone there will care too.
Heck, you can even take the petitions to your local mall and get others to sign it! Go for it.
But if you find that you disagree or don’t have the time, I ask that you forward the petition back to
me so that those who DO care, are heard!
If you want more information, please go to SaveOurVets.com for articles and links to back up
every claim made in this letter!
|Jonelle Kop has
started a petition
drive to force the
government to help