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PTSD, lack of jobs plague today's Vets
ALBANY - Nearly one million veterans are out of a job and nearly 250,000 are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to numbers released by federal agencies.
Since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars alone about 845,000 veterans have come back home to US soil. A study from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows nearly 30% of those vets, almost 250,000, suffer from PTSD.
"You have to be there to know what it is like," said Fred Ingraham, a Vietnam Veteran attending Monday's Veteran's day Parade in Albany.
Ingraham has been dealing with PTSD since returning from a two year stint in Vietnam. He still gets help for it weekly at the Stratton VA Center in Albany. Nearly 40 years after returning home, Ingraham says the slightest thing can still trigger his PTSD.
"The least little thing can set it off," said Ingraham. "You hear a helicopter go by it makes you think right away to Nam."
It wasn't until earlier this year, 42 years after his services, that Ingraham said he was able to go see fireworks on July 4th.
Linda Weiss, Director of the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center, says her facility deals with PTSD patients everyday.
"We actually have more mental health services than the general medical community," Weiss said. "The VA has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in expanded staff."
The VA Center also helps vets look for work when they return home.
Today nearly 1-million still need to find a job, according to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. The committee's website shows, dating back to Vietnam era vets, 710,000 are still unemployed.
"What is see is a lot of veterans having a hard time taking their military skill set and reflecting it on a civilian resume so they can sell themselves to potential employers," said Paul Engel, an Iraq War Veteran.
Recent federal legislation has tried to help vets. The Congressional Veteran's Affairs Committee has passed several bills over the past few years to help vets.
Two most recent bills allow veterans to attend any state school in the country at the in state resident price. Another bill expedites the budget of the VA clinics who directly help vets.