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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Who's the Government Helping? Not Oak Ridge, TN Vets.

Another inspiring (yet frustrating) local story has hit the wires this afternoon. We can add it to the fine job local media outlets are doing covering the PTSD issue.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From The Oak Ridger (Oak Ridge, TN):

Volunteer workers are moving dirt and raising funds, hoping to complete by July a $100,000 meeting hall and claims benefit center for disabled veterans in Morgan, Anderson and Roane counties.

The Disabled American Veterans, Tri-County Chapter 26, broke ground last spring on the 6,000 square-foot building on 13 acres off Kingston Avenue, just past Oliver Springs High School.

By last week, the workers, mostly volunteers, had cleared and moved trees, installed drains on the former swampland, and laid gravel where they hope to pour the building's six-inch concrete slab, possibly this week. On Thursday afternoon, four men were at the site, operating an assortment of construction equipment, including bulldozers and long-bed dump trucks.

"It's been a tremendous amount of work," said John Lambert, senior vice commander of DAV Tri-County Chapter 26, which has about 400 members. So far, Anderson County officials have donated $20,000 for the new DAV building, Anderson County Mayor Rex Lynch said. Morgan County officials have made a commitment to contribute, although they have not said how much or when, Lambert said.

The DAV chapter is out to help the area's Knoxville-based National Guard 278th Regimental Combat Team who are returning home with PTSD and other needs.
"We've got a major group coming back right now that our government is turning their backs on," [Lee] Cantrell[, the chapter's service officer,] said. "We need to take care of these troops when they come home."

Lambert said disabled veterans are not getting enough help from county, state and federal officials. In some cases, the disabled Vietnam veteran said, they are not even aware they are eligible for benefits. The new DAV building will be used to help process claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Lambert said. ..

Like Cantrell, Lambert said troops returning from war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling with PTSD, even as veterans of past wars continue to deal with it. "There's a lot of that coming out now," Lambert said. "That's one of the reasons we need this building." Lambert said being around others should help returning troops deal with the "tremendous change" of leaving a war zone.

"It's a tremendous mental stress," he said. "If you've never experienced it, it's hard to explain."

Can someone please remind me why it is that volunteers and local communities with no help from federal, state, and little from local governments are having to build a meeting hall and claims benefit center for our disabled veterans? Although admirable to say the least from these fine DAV individuals, why on earth is our government not doing this themselves?

Please consider supporting the work of this group:
Though they have had help [$20,000 of the needed $100,000] from county officials, as well as Oliver Springs officials, DAV officials say they are in "desperate need" of donations.

Those interested in helping can send tax-deductible contributions to the non-profit DAV at: Building Fund, Disabled American Veterans, Tri-County Chapter 26, P.O. Box 533, Oliver Springs, TN, 37840.

Also, interested parties can call:
  • Lambert at (865) 435-0925
  • Cantrell at (865) 882-3838
  • Adjutant/Treasurer Elbert "Red" Strickland at (865) 435-1660
  • Commander Fred Jackson at (856) 789-4525
The men said they are willing to do what they can for veterans. "We're doing what we're supposed to do - help," Lambert said. "If there's a veteran out there that needs help, I'm going to help him," Cantrell said.

A tip of the hat to these wonderful indviduals.

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