Among a multitude of services, the Montrose VA has the number one rated military PTSD treatment center in the nation. Given that, most organizations would then seek to build on their success. But the nature of government affairs, budgetary constraints and political expediency has the hospital circling back - so to speak - on their standing and in all they do for our local vets, according to Cortlandt's WILLIE NAZARIO, Jr. Vice Commander - Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Slowly but surely services have been cut since 1989 and outsourced to far less convenient locations such as Castle Point, Kingsbridgeand the Manhattan VA. In this, asserts the veteran's advocate and Vietnam Vet,"
"Your essentially putting a bulls eye on the back of the Montrose VA."
He points to what he believes is a policy to completely phase out the facility in the manner in which attrition is not a battlefield reality but a business model that has dominated the Montrose landscape. Once
the largest employer in Westchester County, he says, "Somebody would retire and rather than replace them they would abolish the position, and as you abolish positions, you abolish services."
The same goes for the way Washington has assigned new services and projects throughout the state and the country. "They send them everywhere but Montrose," he says.
The placement of a 150 bed unit for military sexual trauma victims in Lyons, New Jersey comes readily to mind. "What the hell good is it going to do us in New Jersey when we're much closer to the city and we
have the room to build a facility," he says.
A request for a PTSD program for military women also fell to the same poorly placed geographic policy. "I understand they have six beds in East Orange, New Jersey - that's as close as your going to get," he
But the impending explosion of returning troops on the near horizon does not mean PTSD patients will emerge with the same initial frequency. As a result of the stigma attached, he understands it will take time for vets to come forward with self medication serving as the unfortunate barrier that finally leads many into treatment.
Nonetheless, as one in four military deaths are attributed to suicide, it's still no time to enable the prideful tendency of putting off treatment by moving mental health outreach out of reach.
Regardless, Washington has demonstrated its belief that cuts can be offset and justified by simply putting our service men and women on 684and various other connecting inconveniences. A bus to Manhattan,
Kingsbridge or Castle Point, he says, "That's their solution."
This also won't address the issue of housing among homeless and senior vets and neither will EUL initiatives. Enhanced Use Leases allow VAs to lease unused lands for development. Whatever the wisdom of this, the proposed 160 acres (out of 172) that had been assigned for commercial development at Montrose has fallen. But just a discussion where the land is not first considered on behalf of vets and their families is troubling.
The death three years ago of a homeless Peekskill vet speaks loudly enough to the question. "There's no need in the dead of winter to find a vet frozen to death," he says.
The same goes for the where the proceeds would go if the EUL passes after elections have secured the next class of congressmen and women. "One of the problems we have with commercial development is whatever
money is made does not stay in the coffers of what is commonly referred to as the Hudson Valley Healthcare System," he says.
Far more preferable to the money pit that it would disappear into in Washington, so he asks those who care, not to fall asleep at the wheel and take a non partisan approach to their ballot. "If you're interested in helping our causes - forget about party solidarity, it's about who's going to do what's best for us," he says.
Beyond that, he hopes people would get involved by giving the Cortlandt Town Supervisor a call and attend the monthly meetings on Veterans issues. "It's just a way of staying in the loop," he says.
It's the least we can do.
Contact Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi at 734-1002 to take part in monthly meetings with The Hudson Valley Veterans Committee Meetings at the CortlandtTown Hall.
My Article originally appeared at : www.westchesterguardian.com/7_12_12/wg_7_12_fin.pdf
Fox Lane/Mt. Kisco/Local Soldier Jonathan Kelton http://expertscolumn.com/content/fox-lane-graduate-brings-soldier-stories-back-somers-intermediate-school