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Help for veterans comes in surprising places

There are many major and minor veterans organizations locally and nationally that provide thousands of hours of pro bono service and invest millions of dollars in time and treasure to help veterans and their families. Groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans have been collectively helping veterans for hundreds of years.

So when I recently learned that the well-respected Easter Seals group also plays a large role in helping veterans, I was surprised. Easter Seals is not well-known for its work with ex-military Americans, even though it offers such programs.

Recently, I spoke with Nevada Easter Seals CEO Brian Patchett, who explained several of the activities available. Through a contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs, along with affiliates and collaborative partners, the organization provides comprehensive support to veterans who are caregivers. The program teaches such skills as home safety, personal care, self-care and management of difficult behaviors.

In a related effort, Easter Seals partners with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to offer free webinars where experts in the field support and educate caregivers of military service members and veterans. The free videos can be accessed at easterseals.com/carewebinar.

There is also a dedicated toll-free number where veterans can access information about benefits and assistance with general health and education services. Information is also available concerning legal aid, housing and financial education. Callers are often connected with public and private organizations suited to their needs. The phone number is 866-423-4981.

Employment is also a priority. Patchett said his group offers skills training, job search assistance and guidance regarding resume preparation and personal presentation during interviews.

Problems and remedies experienced by women veterans have been in the news of late. While females can be beset by many of the same problems of their male counterparts, they also have specific concerns that affect women, especially in the areas of health. With that in mind Easter Seals has been working to provide detailed information to women veterans.

Locally, U.S. Navy veteran Liz Grable is on board with Patchett and is working to establish lines of communication to women veterans. She is encouraged by a paper published by the Office of Warrior and Family Support issued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The paper challenges policy-makers to bridge the gap between services available and services veterans require during reintegration into civilian life.

She notes that programs such as increased access to child care, mental health, employment and other key areas can greatly benefit women veterans and their families.

Patchett had been with Easter Seals in other locales since 1996 before coming to Las Vegas in 2004. His background is thick with education and experience, including being a certified rehabilitation and a vocational rehabilitation counselor. And while he doesn’t talk about or discuss his own situation, he is legally blind.

For more information about Easter Seals, call 702-870-7050.

Surprise comment

Many U.S. officials talk about the global war on terrorism and openly discuss America’s current and future role in fighting enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere. Those comments are often somewhat tempered.

But during remarks to an audience of airmen and civilians at the recent change of command ceremony for the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, Major Gen. Glen VanHerck was very open on where we stand and where we’re going when he remarked, “We are a nation at war, and we will be a nation at war for many years to come.”

With that in mind, congratulations to Col. Paul J. Murray, who moments later took command of the 99th.

Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient. Every other Sunday he discusses veterans issues over several Lotus Broadcasting AM radio stations in Southern Nevada.

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