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THE VETERAN

Page 4
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<< 3. From the National Office5. Fraggin' >>

VVAW Military and Veterans Counseling Closing: VVAW Still Fights On

By VVAW

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In 1967, VVAW began our long history of working to help our brothers and sisters. We fought to end the Vietnam War and organized for decent benefits for GIs and veterans. We started a national newspaper in 1971, which turned into The Veteran. We put together rap groups in the early 1970s to help our brothers and sisters with PTSD (then called Post-Vietnam Syndrome). We helped organize and testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation to bring light to the truths of what really happened in Vietnam. After the war ended, we continued to organize. Our work brought recognition of the effects of Agent Orange and PTSD.

In the early 2000's, an outpouring of support from our membership — due to the presidency of George W. Bush and the impending return to Iraq — provided VVAW with enough resources to give grants to Iraq Veterans Against the War and fund the security for Winter Soldier II. VVAW was able to assist a great many other projects and hire paid staff for our very own Military Counseling Project.

Through the intervening years, VVAW's Military and Veterans Counseling (MC) project has assisted numerous veterans, service members, and their loved ones. We provided support and assistance to people in need of VA disability benefits and/or discharge upgrading.

Time has marched on. The funding simply no longer exists to support the MC Project. The day has arrived when we must close down the project. Last summer our benefits specialist, Ray Parrish, left us, which caused a significant decrease in services. We had plans to carry on through 2013 with some cuts. Unfortunately the level of pay was not enough to provide a decent salary and guaranteed future employment for our remaining staff member, mental health provider Johanna (Hans) Buwalda. This summer she found it necessary to seek and secure a more permanent position. Hans will be leaving the program as well.

Regretfully, we can no longer accept new clients into the Program. It is necessary to focus our remaining funding towards winding down the project in an ethical manner. We will be working with Hans to either complete open files, or transfer them to other providers or organizations. Any current evaluations will be completed and finalized to the best of our abilities.

We know that VA and Military records are valuable. Our client records with current addresses have already been returned. If you believe that we have your VA records or your Military records, please contact us at vvaw@vvaw.org. If we have the records, and know your current address, we can mail them to you. If we do not hear from you by June 1, 2013, your records will be stored.

Unfortunately, there are very few, if any, programs in the country to replace the service VVAW's Military and Veterans Counseling provided. We will make sure that we post any pertinent information on our website. However, this information will no longer be updated on a regular basis. You will also be able to find a small list of resources there if you are looking for help. A list of alternate providers is provided below.

It has truly been an honor to do this work and it is with great pain that we are now forced to close our doors. Unfortunately, the aging of our membership and the bad economic situation (recession) have brought this worthy effort to a halt.

But, please remember: VVAW still carries on its fight for peace, justice and veterans that we began in 1967. Those of us that survived the war and its after-effects are older, grayer/balder, thicker and more tired than we were 46 years ago. We can no longer lead the fight like we did when we were in our 20s and 30s.

But VVAW is still here. We are in classrooms, speaking the truth of the Vietnam War. We are working side by side with our younger comrades in IVAW. We are at Veterans Homeless Standdowns feeding and clothing our less fortunate brothers and sisters. We are sharing our unique perspectives in our newspaper, The Veteran. With our resources becoming more limited over the past several years we must make some difficult choices.

We will carry on the fight for peace, justice and veterans as we have for the last 46 years.


We offer this list of alternate providers:

SWAN — Service Women Action Network:
servicewomen.org,
Help Line: 1-888-729-2089

The Soldiers Project:
www.thesoldiersproject.org

GiveAnHour.org:
www.giveanhour.org/ForVisitors.aspx

VetCAT:
www.facebook.com/VetCAT

GI Rights Hotline:
girightshotline.org,
877 477-4487


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