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Getting help for veterans

New York Teacher

Retiree Michael Rothfeld [“From special ed to documentary film,” March 12] produced five documentaries recounting the stories of veterans who served in World War II and the Korean, Vietnam and other wars. One section that particularly struck me features veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan explaining how service dogs are helping them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

I find it in sync with the goals of the UFT Veterans Committee: dealing with the extended effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

This problem affects more than the individual. Veterans’ family members are also affected — children possibly more so because they don’t have the coping mechanisms to understand the causes of a parent’s erratic behaviors (including suicide). That confusion, carried with them to school, can affect their behavior. That’s why the UFT Veterans Committee put forth a resolution to establish a system to reach out to veterans who are parents and direct them to appropriate agencies within the NYC Department of Veterans’ Services for assistance with things such as mental health, housing and employment support during postdeployment, education benefits, the NYC Human Rights Law and mentorship. All of the services can ameliorate problems that may seem insurmountable and help stabilize the home environment.

It’s very confusing to return home after the most chaotic situation imaginable: war. Only another veteran can empathize. Others may sympathize, but NEVER understand.

About 70% of veterans do not regularly use the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The vast majority of veterans who die by suicide never sought services. That’s about 20 per day.

If we have a vehicle to refer students’ parents who served in the military to available services, it will make a difference. Let’s get beyond thanking vets for their service and get this done.

Donald Nobles, retired

Related Topics: Comments, Veterans