Reaching Out to Veterans

"Retired Vermont National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Michael Currier heads out looking for service members who are having trouble readjusting to civilian life. Some days, he meets with members of the clergy, soldiers' wives, parents, employers, sometimes the police. And of course, he meets with the soldiers themselves. Based in Springfield, he's looking for soldiers having trouble resuming a routine after having spent time in Iraq or Afghanistan," began an Associated Press article on a first-of-its-ki

"Retired Vermont National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Michael Currier heads out looking for service members who are having trouble readjusting to civilian life. Some days, he meets with members of the clergy, soldiers' wives, parents, employers, sometimes the police. And of course, he meets with the soldiers themselves. Based in Springfield, he's looking for soldiers having trouble resuming a routine after having spent time in Iraq or Afghanistan," began an Associated Press article on a first-of-its-kind veterans outreach program in Vermont. Now, the Vermont program could become a model for the nation.

"My hope is that increased coordination between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs and local and state organizations will mean that veterans and their families will be better informed and more likely to get the care they deserve,' said Senator Bernie Sanders.

The Senate on Monday passed a Department of Defense bill that would authorize a national pilot project, modeled after the Vermont program.

In a floor statement on Tuesday, the senator said the pilot program would deal with "a very important problem, and that problem is that all across our country, men and women are returning home from the war in Iraq, from the war in Afghanistan, and they're coming home to big cities, small towns, and rural communities. They, and they and their families, in many case cases, are hurting.

"These are soldiers and military family members who are suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, who are suffering with traumatic brain injury, who are suffering from depression, who are watching their marriages and their families coming apart. They know that they are suffering nightmares, they're suffering panic attacks, sometimes uncontrollable anger and various physical symptoms. Because of the stigma, many of these brave soldiers do not come forward for help. Others, where the military infrastructure is not strong, simply don't know where to turn. They and their families, in many cases, are hurting."

"In my view, we have a moral responsibility to reach out to these soldiers and their families and to help them," Sanders said.

To listen to or watch Sanders on the Senate floor, click here or here.

To read The Associated Press article on the Vermont veterans program, click here.