As I sit here today writing this post, my head is pounding, I can’t think straight, and my mind is spinning with the many reasons why what happened today is so wrong. Both my husband and I are veterans. Both of us have Post Traumatic Stress. We applied to the Catch-A-Lift organization for some assistance with some gym equipment because we live in a rural area. It makes it difficult to maintain a regular work-out routine utilizing weight equipment at a gym when said gym is close to an hour drive away. We were both approved for the program in September 2015. But, I had given up on the program after not hearing from them for not months, but over a year. We contacted them a couple times after the 150 day waiting period and they continued to blow us off and informed us that they didn’t have any funding. When we applied for the program, we informed them where we had served overseas. Serving in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia made us eligible for this particular program.
Now it appears that Catch-A-Lift has changed the rules mid-game, much like the Department of Defense would. This feels familiar. Now, my husband is eligible for Catch-A-Lift because he served in a combat support role in Kuwait but I am not eligible because I served in a combat support role in Saudi Arabia. They informed me that they made an ‘exception’ for him. We both received hazardous duty pay. We both did similar jobs. We both were told we were approved for the program. I have a big problem with this. First, Catch-A-Life reneged on an original commitment. You don’t tell someone they are approved for a program and then later say no you are not, especially when the veteran has proof that the program did in fact approve services. Secondly, you gave an ‘exception’ to my husband who performed a similar role I did except in a different country in Southwest Asia. Lastly, obviously Catch-A-Lift doesn’t understand that the military has roles all over this world in support of both Iraq and Afghanistan and other very important missions. So what they are saying is if you were in a combat zone in Kuwait, Jordan, or Syria for example, you are not eligible for Catch-A-Lift. Yet, someone who regularly flies missions and only touches down in Iraq or Afghanistan for a couple hours is eligible. This is absurd.
I am not an entitled veteran. But I am most certainly someone who believes in honoring a commitment and making rules that are fair. We should have both been grandfathered if they decided to change the rules because they don’t have enough funding. I have lost all respect for this organization and I will never refer another veteran to this organization. They, much like Wounded Warrior Project, are making veterans who were boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan the priority. And, we have had it with people not understanding what our soldiers have been through. If we really want to get technical, we would be opening up organizations to address the suicide rates in our Vietnam veteran population. They are the population that makes up the majority of veteran suicides in the 22 suicides per day statistic that the Department of Veteran Affairs confirms. If people really wanted to help veterans, they would be targeting this population. I will refrain from referring any veteran to this organization unless you want to be triggered once again and made to feel like you don’t matter.
Catch-A-Lift and other organizations including Wounded Warrior Project (as of late) are in fact making post 9/11 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan their priority. Wounded Warrior Project used to be wide open services for any post 9/11 veteran with Post Traumatic Stress. Now, our regional office has closed, programs have disappeared, and requirements have changed. Guess what? You guys are doing exactly what the military did to us. As soon as we don’t fit your prescribed definition of what a ‘real warrior’ is, we are kicked to the curb. What about the men and women veterans who were raped, sexually assaulted, hazed, physically assaulted, witness to another soldier getting murdered or dying by their own hand, and exposed to other traumas while serving in countries other then Iraq and Afghanistan including the United States. They need help too. And what you are saying is that if you have PTSD but you didn’t get it in Iraq or Afghanistan, then you don’t count. Yes they do. And we are not going to stand for this. We have a lot of troops that were exposed to horrors that you cannot even imagine and they don’t want to talk about it. They just want to get better. Veteran organizations are making that impossible by discounting our traumas and saying sorry we can’t help you unless you served in Iraq or Afghanistan and your injury occurred there. Here’s what goes through my head when I learn from organizations that my fifteen years of service doesn’t count and the reason I have PTSD is not as important as others.
“Wow, here we go again. I am so f*cking sick of this. Not only did I get shit on in the military because I got a PTS diagnosis FROM WHAT SOMEONE ELSE DID TO ME but now I am getting kicked down again by organizations that think only those who serve in country in Iraq and Afghanistan matter. Actually, it’s the Vietnam veterans who really need the help. This is such a joke. If they really want to talk about how messed up veterans are, why don’t they go interview a victim of rape in the military who couldn’t escape an attacker in garrison because there was no expedited transfer policy prior to 2011. Let me know how they are doing and whether or not they could benefit from these services. Oh and while we are at, let’s talk about how reporting a crime in the military ends one’s career so they can’t deploy with their team to locations they longed to go to because the Commander made them non-deployable. If people want to start comparing who really needs help, they would be looking at the suicide statistics and targeting the Vietnam veteran population. They would be targeting those who have Post Traumatic Stress. Period.”
I support all of our veterans from every generation. I also know enough about the military to know that we have soldiers serving all over this world in many various functions. Those same veterans that Catch-A-Lift says are not eligible for services because their country wasn’t important enough are the same soldiers who help keep things going. Try conducting missions in Iraq and Afghanistan without those support functions and then tell me how far you get in fighting our wars. This is ridiculous and Catch-A-Lift and Wounded Warrior Project are wrong for once again reaffirming what the Department of Defense has confirmed: we don’t matter. And now you are dividing and separating us and causing resentment. It’s pre-9/11 veterans versus post 9/11 veterans; combat stress veterans versus military sexual trauma veterans, male veterans versus female veterans; Iraq and Afghanistan veterans versus everyone else. Make it stop. We are one team, one fight. We should not have to explain to you why we want to get help. It’s none of your damn business. I just want help. I don’t want to have to keep explaining over and over that I was not in Iraq or Afghanistan and that I was a victim of crime in the United States! I already have enough pain around losing a career I absolutely loved because I reported felony crimes and then had the nerve to seek treatment. If I am feeling this way, I’m sure others are too. Just let them get the help they need and deserve and stop dividing us.
2 thoughts on “Veteran Organizations: Please Stop Separating and Dividing Us Because All Veterans Matter”
Jennifer, I just found your blog. My name is Doris (Dee) Chance and I’m retired USAF MSgt 26 years (1985 – 2011) You are hitting on all the right areas and I applaud you. I’d like to share your blog on my Facebook page if you allow me to. I too have PTSD from MST. The counseling hasn’t worked for me even though I’ve tried it over and over with 3 separate counselors. It definitely works for some! I live in FL and moved back to NJ last August 2016 for personal issues (my 12 year relationship fell apart due to PTSD). I contacted the Philadelphia VA for MST counseling and I had an issue because it is a male counselor and he immediately told me that I HAD to have one on one sessions with him monthly in NJ as well as group counseling 3 x a week. The demanding way he spoke to me was so hard to handle. He is not a Vet but a victim of sexual assault which is what he told me. I was surprisingly patient with him yet told him I would not be seeking treatment from him. He told me about Wilmington, DE which is over an hour drive from me here in NJ that offers female counselors. One of the issues I have with the VA is the lack of female counselors. Not that male counselors aren’t qualified or good; it is not the avenue I personally can take. If I had a penny (only a penny) for every man that spoke to me in a demanding, belittling manner I’d be pretty fking rich! I never knew how angry I could get. My anger, depression, anxiety, super vigilance and silence is scary to me, my family and friends.
Thanks for your honesty in your article. I’ll bookmark your page.
You are welcome to share my blog anywhere you want. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.