Opinion

Veterans still not receiving mental health care

To the editor:


Black armbands are historic signs of silent protest in Iowa dating back to the Vietnam War. In fact, a 1968 landmark Supreme Court case originating in Iowa, concerning the wearing of black armbands in protest, has become a reference point in the fight for First Amendment freedoms.


Today, the Veterans National Recovery Center (VNRC), an Iowa-based 501c3 charity, asked that veterans and those that care about veterans carry on this historic tradition by wearing black arm bands today, May 21. This is in silent protest of Iowa?s refusal to restore 20 active psychiatric beds for PTSD and MST veterans in Iowa, and to prevent a future erosion of psychiatric resources for veterans and others.


At 11 a.m. this morning, Gov. Terry Branstad was to sign a proclamation designating May as Mental Health Month. The public event was at the Iowa State Capitol Rotunda in Des Moines.


Even if veterans were unable to attend this ceremony, the VNRC asks that they wear black armbands today, so that when people ask why, they can tell of the need for more and better psychiatric services for the 5,000 veterans from the Post 9/11 wars that have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, Traumatic Brain Injury


The closure of 20 dedicated psychiatric beds at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown and the pending closures at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda will impact veterans and others, simply because there are only 10 dedicated psychiatric beds in Iowa for the over 5,000 9/11 veterans in Iowa that have PTSD. We need policy makers to listen and we need to stop the pending closures and restore the beds at Marshalltown.


It is now time for us to speak with the quiet presence of our black armbands.


 


? Bob Krause, Fairfield, President of the Veterans National Recovery Center