Having trouble viewing this message? Click here to view the web version.

In This Issue April 17, 2012

A Belated Medal of Honor

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Palm Beach County Veterans Court

Faces of Agent Orange - Roland and Amber Mayhew

VHC Executive Director Named to National Committee Post

30 Years of The Wall

VA Volunteer Week

Current Government Framework for Veteran Care Inadequate

FacebookFAO - Facebook

Special Notice: If you are a veteran in emotional crisis and need help RIGHT NOW, call this toll-free number 1-800-273-8255, available 24/7, and tell them you are a veteran. All calls are confidential.

VA Caregiver Hotline

Leslie Sabo to be Awarded Medal of Honor on May 16, 2012

A Belated Medal of Honor

Leslie Sabo
Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.

Forty-two years after Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., U.S. Army, of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, was killed in Cambodia, he will be awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.

Sabo, who had married his high school sweetheart prior to leaving for Vietnam, was killed on May 10, 1970, while serving as a rifleman in Company D, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division in Se San, Cambodia.

On that day, Sabo’s platoon was ambushed by a large enemy force.  He charged their position, killing several enemy soldiers. He then assaulted an enemy flanking force, drawing fire away from their target.  When a grenade landed close by, Sabo picked it up, threw it, and draped himself over a wounded comrade, saving his life.  Though injured from the explosion, Sabo continued to charge the enemy.  After being further injured by automatic weapon fire, Sabo crawled toward the enemy’s position and threw a grenade into their bunker.  The explosion silenced the enemy’s fire and ended 22-year-old Sabo’s life.

Though recommended for the Medal of Honor, Sabo’s file had been lost. Tony Mabb, a veteran of the 101st Airborne and a columnist for the Screaming Eagle magazine, was conducting research at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. There, in a thick file folder on Sabo, he found the proposed citation for the Medal of Honor.  Mabb then involved members of Congress, who contacted the Department of Defense.  

On May 16, President Obama will present the Medal of Honor to Sabo’s widow, Rose Marie Sabo Brown, in a ceremony to commemorate his selfless service and sacrifice.

Military Sexual Assaults

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Despite the Defense Department's "zero-tolerance" policy, there were 3,191 military sexual assaults reported in 2011. Given that most sexual assaults are not reported, the Pentagon estimates the actual number was probably closer to 19,000.  Military records also show that the “personality disorder diagnosis” is being used disproportionately on women, according to records obtained by VVA and the Yale Law School's Veterans Legal Services Clinic under a Freedom of Information Act request.  In the Army, 16 percent of all soldiers are women, but females constitute 24 percent of all personality disorder discharges.  In the Air Force, women make up 21 percent of the ranks and 35 percent of personality disorder discharges.  In the Navy, 17 percent of sailors are women and 26 percent received personality disorder discharges.  In the Marines, women constitute 7 percent of the Corps and 14 percent of personality disorder discharges. The records don't reflect how many of those women had reported sexual assault.

Veterans Courts

Palm Beach County Veterans Court

Palm Beach Veterans Court

Following over a year of planning, the Palm Beach County Veterans Court held its first session on November 10, 2010. The court was established by a judicial order signed by Chief Judge of the 15th Judicial Circuit Peter Blanc. Judge Ted Booras, a Marine Corps veteran who served from 1979 to 1983, presided over the first session of the Court.

The process of establishing the court brought together key players, including the Palm Beach County Commission; the Sheriff's Department; Department of Corrections Probation; Pride Probation; the office of the States Attorney; the Office of Public Defenders; and the West Palm Beach Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital.

Representing Community-based organizations at the planning session were Roy Foster, executive director of Faith, Hope, Love, and Charity’s Standown House; David Knapp, 11th District Commander of the American Legion in Florida; and Jerry Klein, President of the VVA Florida State Council. Foster and Klein were asked to establish the Mentor Program.

[ read complete article ]

Faces of Agent Orange

Roland and Amber Mayhew's Story

The intense itching that afflicted Amber Mayhew Workman began in 2004. It led to sores that
covered her from head to foot. It took four years before she finally found an answer — Hodgkin's disease, a cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system. Her father, Roland Mayhew, a former Marine who served in Vietnam in 1966-67, does not doubt that his exposure to Agent Orange is connected to his first-born child's battle with cancer.

The first doctor to see Amber told her she had scabies, an itchy skin condition caused by a tiny burrowing mite — Sarcoptes scabiei. She was treated for scabies twice. The terrible itching didn't stop; the constant scratching created more sores.

She next went to see a dermatologist and was told she had eczema. Then she saw a podiatrist. The itching had spread to the bottoms of her feet. She used a fork to scratch her feet in an attempt to gain relief. She said the doctor told her it was all in her head, that she didn't really itch.
She was so covered in sores that even in the middle of the hot Kansas summer she wore long-sleeved shirts and long pants to hide the sores while she played softball.

Her gynecologist said she had a bacterial infection.

In February 2008, she noticed a large lump that appeared on her neck. She went to a doctor as soon as she could. A surgical biopsy was done. She finally had an answer — Hodgkin's disease.

[ read the complete story ]

[ visit the Faces of Agent Orange facebook page ]

National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

VHC Executive Director Named to National Committee Post

Dr. Tom Berger, Executive Director of VVA’s Veterans Health Council, has been appointed as the newest member of the Executive Committee for  the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.  The Alliance is co-chaired by The Honorable Secretary John McHugh of the Army and the Honorable Senator Gordon Smith, President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

Stories Of The Wall

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund wants to hear stories of your experience at The Wall.  For some, a visit to the The Wall allows the opportunity to remember a fallen loved one; for others, it is a chance to honor fellow veterans who exemplify bravery and service to country, or even a place to offer a silent “thank you.”  The Wall serves as a gateway into one of the most powerful and trying times in our nation’s history. To share your story of an experience at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, go to:  http://www.vvmf.org/your-story

National Volunteer Week

VA Volunteer Week

The Department of Veterans Affairs celebrates National Volunteer Week, April 15-21.  In 2011, Nearly 87,000 regularly scheduled VA volunteers provided more than 12.3 million hours of service to our nation’s veterans seeking care in VA healthcare facilities. Using 2010 calculations by the independent sector, hourly contributions made by VA volunteers equates to $264.2 million. Those same volunteers and the organizations they represent contributed more than $90 million in cash and material donations, totaling more than $354.6 million in time, talent, non-cash and cash donations. A Special thanks to Judith McCombs, VVA VA Voluntary Service Representative, and to all who continue to serve veterans in communities nationwide. To become a VA volunteer, contact your nearest VA facility, or visit www.va.gov/volunteer.

Center for a New American Security

Current Government Framework for Veteran Care Inadequate

While most veterans successfully transition out of uniform and into civilian life, some recent veterans face service-related challenges. Government agencies and local communities alike should do more to ensure that these veterans receive the care and services they need to reintegrate into civilian life, argue two experts in Well After Service: Veteran Reintegration and American Communities, released on April 11, 2012, by the Center for a New American Security.

Authors Nancy Berglass, Non-Resident CNAS Senior Fellow, and Dr. Margaret Harrell, Senior Fellow and Director of the CNAS Joining Forces Initiative, write that "There is no current infrastructure to facilitate partnerships between federal agencies and the capable veteran-serving organizations in American communities, leaving veterans vulnerable to significant pitfalls in the military-to-civilian transition." The authors begin with a new definition of veteran wellness that differs from the concepts of military or civilian wellness; they identify the best practices of community-based veteran reintegration models; and they offer concrete recommendations for how the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and community-based organizations can work together to close this gap and support a successful transition for America's veterans.

Download Well After Service: Veteran Reintegration and American Communities.

CNAS has also released Investing in the Best: How to Support the Nonprofits that Serve Veterans, Service Members and Their Families by Nancy Berglass. "For those veterans and their families who need support, a broad range of nonprofit organizations stands ready to help. Yet, donors who wish to support the most effective organizations that help meet the needs of veterans and the military community face a staggering array of choices," Berglass states. To address this concern, the author provides criteria for both public and private donors to determine which organizations serving veterans are worthy of investment.

Download Investing in the Best: How to Support the Nonprofits that Serve Veterans, Service Members and Their Families.

Copyright © Vietnam Veterans of America. All Rights Reserved. 8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Silver Spring, MD 20910
If you wish to cancel your subscription to this newsletter or update your e-mail preferences click here