Soldiers face challenges after returning home

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With troops returning home daily from Iraq and Afghanistan the Texas Work force Commission, Veterans Affairs and the state of Texas have joined together to help soldiers reintegrate back into society.

“Not every one can carry the burdens we live with on a daily basis, ” said Navy Corpsmen SGT. Euclides Misael Lopez, 26, of Port Arthur, TX who served in combat in Afghanistan in 2008-2009.

TWC is linking soldiers with the local Veterans Administration to help nurse the soldier back to mental health through several different programs.

“We didn’t have these benefits the guys coming back now have. We had the same PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and some of us got over it, and some of us didn’t and still have problems,” said Air Force Technical Sgt. Nat Arriola who served in Vietnam in 1968-1969.

Arriola is also the Veterans Employment Representative for the East Texas Workforce Center.

Young recruits go in knowing that they will accomplish more than they ever expected. They bring with them perceived limits and learn to overcome them. However, many return home shell-shocked or suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“I felt paranoid, sleeplessness, and I wanted to stay secluded,” said Lopez.

According to Iragwarveterans.org, when a service member returns home it may feel like family members hardly know one another. It takes time to rebuild intimacy and to relearn how to rely on one another for support.

“If the soldiers require psychological assistance, we refer them to the Veterans Affairs in Tyler,” said Sgt. Arriola, “It’s the same with the guys now as it was when I came back from Vietnam. Some can adjust and some can’t.”

The Texas Veterans Leadership Program (TVLP) is a Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) resource and referral network that serves to connect returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with the resources they need to achieve their goals.

The Texas Workforce Commission, through its 28 local work force boards, will be the primary referral and resource centers for returning veterans as they transition to civilian life.

“We give them employment counseling and try to find them resources for whatever problem they are faced with,” said Arriola.

The Texas Workforce works with local communities service organizations, and faith-based programs to aid in the rehabilitation of the soldiers. If there are other services the soldier might need, he or she is referred to the Veterans Affairs where they can receive the proper treatment.

“The services are available to all returning vets from Operation Enduring Freedom and also the veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom,” said Penny Kirby, public affairs specialist in charge of the Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Affairs program based out of Dallas. The program is designed to assist in the transition from the battlefield to the home.

“Upon arrival at the VA, they are assigned a transition patient advocate who will aid in the process of being re-assimilated back into society,” said Kirby. “The transition advocate will assist from attaining social services to psychological services in the reassessment of the soldier.”

On April 17, 2008, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced the establishment of a major initiative to assist Texas veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan when they return to civilian life.

“Returning veterans deserve our utmost appreciation, and we must honor their service by easing their reentry into the Texas work force,” said Perry.

“The military provided them training and leadership experience in high-pressure situations and taught them devotion to unit integrity, now the state of Texas will ensure that their unique skills are applied and further developed within our economy, helping them to succeed in their lives,” Perry said according to www.twc.state.tx.us.

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