Letter to the Editor

Arm bands for veterans

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I would like to ask your readers to publicize and participate in the "Vets Black Arm Band Day for PTSD" event on March 23rd.

The main part of the event is only to ask interested people to wear a black arm band on March 23rd to protest the poor treatment of PTSD sufferers and other veterans and mental health sufferers in Iowa.

The second part is to participate in a short ceremony at the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial on the south side of the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. The ceremony starts at 12:45 on the 23rd.

We are holding the event on March 23rd in honor of Richard Miles. Miles is the PTSD veteran who froze to death last year in Des Moines Waterworks Park. He was laid to rest on his birthday, which was March 23rd.

Nothing has changed since Richard Miles was buried. In some ways they have become worse. Nationally, the VA has cut available counseling sessions in half - to 30 minutes - to stretch valuable counseling resources. This hurts their value.

In Iowa, six years ago Iowa had 90 beds dedicated to veterans with mental illness, to include PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma. Today there are just 10 bed remaining to serve the needs of 5,000 post 9-11 veterans and 13,000 Vietnam era PTSD vets. Under-served veterans with PTSD or other mental health issues go into the pool with all other under-served Iowans with mental illness. In a state that should have 1,500 mental health beds to serve all our needs, we likely have around 600 today.

To see a short video on what we we want to do, see https://youtu.be/vYNGm8YaNAk

Please join us in building awareness for PTSD and wartime issues of the mind. Don't leave these soldiers behind on the battlefield.