Sgt. Franklin said combat stress teams are attached to hospitals, yet “that is pretty challenging when soldiers are on the hillside.”
“These squad leaders on the ground are the first line of defense; he needs to be able to identify these symptoms,” Sgt. Franklin said.
“Community heals; isolation kills,” said Army Reserve Lt. Col. David Rabb, director of psychological health, 63rd Readiness Support Command at Moffett Field. He opened the “Implications of Unseen Injuries” panel by sharing what he learned from the battlefields of Iraq.
Col. Rabb stated that he has tried to bring the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs into the community and to bring the community into the VA and DoD. They are large organizations and do great by themselves but they can do better by working together, according to Col. Rabb.
“Outreach means you have to go beyond your organization, beyond your department, beyond your service because trauma does not stay in its lane,” Col. Rabb said.
Retired Army 1st Lt. Rebecca Ludwick said she attended the forum looking for assistance from top military and VA officials. She sustained a spinal-cord injury during a combative training exercise.
“I was injured during combative training in February 2007 at Fort Sill, Okla.,” Lt. Ludwick said. “Because it was not an injury sustained in combat, I was denied benefits. I am depressed and lonely. My husband is currently in Afghanistan, and I am here alone.” Lt. Ludwick says the system has failed her.
Leslie Kammerdiener, who sat on the “Caring for Families and Caregivers” panel, said the VA has failed to provide ample support for her and her injured son, Army Cpl. Kevin Kammerdiener. He was severely wounded in Afghanistan in May 2008. Mrs. Kammerdiener told the forum that when her son arrived at the VA facility in Tampa, Fla., Labor Day weekend in 2008, they were unaware he was coming.
“The hospital had no medicine for him, no bed and no food for his feeding tube. My son went 30 hours without being fed,” Mrs. Kammerdiener said. “It’s a very sad thing that this country - your Army or your VA or whatever - has let us down so incredibly. And I am asking you to step up to the plate and take care of somebody who went over there and did what you asked them to do.”
“Post-traumatic stress is a tremendous challenge for us. We are improving screening for our troops. There will be no veteran left behind,” said VA Assistant Secretary L. Tammy Duckworth, who oversees public and intergovernmental relations at the agency.
Online links suggested by forum participants include: www.usatogether.com, www.militaryonesource.com and www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov.
Susan Oliver Nelson is a writer living on Fort Belvoir. She is an Army spouse.
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
This column will cover anything that has anything remotely to do with the game of baseball, from the game itself to mid-summer trades to offseason moves.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up.
Are there profound differences between the Left and the Right? You betcha.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention