Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A veteran's two-year wait for benefits

Because we didn't make changes before new veterans were created with two wars, veterans are waiting too long for help now. Why? No one paid much attention when Vietnam veterans were waiting even longer in the 80's and 90's. My husband's claim took six years and was finally approved in 1999. Imagine if we had really done something about all of this back then. Would veterans be waiting this long now? Would they be suffering financially and emotionally still?

Read this as what we can expect to hear from OEF and OIF veterans years from now if we do nothing again.
A veteran's two-year wait for benefits
By Janelle Wetzstein
Published: Monday, June 17, 2013

When Gary “Zach” Zacharatos first returned to San Francisco after a four-year deployment during the Vietnam War in 1972, he didn’t sleep well.

“I had dreams — vivid, violent ones that would wake me up repeatedly,” said the 62-year-old man as he sat on his couch in his West Street home — clutching his dog Lacy closely to his chest as he remembered his nightmares. “But it was the ’70s and I was a Marine at heart. I didn’t ask for help because that’s not what we did.”

Instead, Zacharatos suffered in silence for many years, often sleepwalking and waking up with no memory of the conversations he’d had or the combat scenes he’d reenacted while asleep.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Zacharatos finally sought help — after he experienced such severe anxiety, depression and sleep deprivation that he had a complete mental and physical breakdown. By then, Zacharatos’ condition had gotten so bad that he could no longer work, let alone get out of bed. After a local psychiatrist diagnosed him with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Zacharatos and his friend, Linda Pickenheim, began to search for assistance.

Little did they know that their request for veteran’s benefits, which was first filed in February of 2010, would take almost two and a half years to be approved. During that time, Zacharatos lost the home his grandparents had left to him, most of his belongings and was days away from living out of his car before his claim was finally approved in April of last year.
read more here
His claim was approved a year ago but look what he had to go through. The truth was still the truth and the need was still the need. It is also a testament of the simple fact that the majority of VA claims in the backlog are from Vietnam veterans.