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Wednesday, Jul 15th

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Getting the numbers right: Thousands of New Mexican veterans wait for treatment of PTSD

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Having a little disagreement with Regional Office Congressional Liaison about demographic number of Veterans in our State. Being told my statistics are in accurate or hypothetical but now the 2015 numbers are out and varies a little from 2014 but that is because we lost several in 2014 and I know we lost more in 2015.

We still have 172,595 Veterans in our state and 106,485 are 65 or older. 2014 showed only 77,000 so census numbers must not have counted all those on the reservation.

Another state site says we have 171,528 so we have about a thousand difference but the point is we have 106,485 Veterans age 65 or older. Of that number we have 56,900 Vietnam Vets, World War II 5,300, and Korea 18,500 totaling 80,700. so about 26,000 over 65 were peacetime Veterans. Many if these 56,900 Vietnam Veterans are still fighting for disability connected with Agent Orange exposure.

Agent Orange is a presumptive condition and extended presumption of service connection for nine infectious diseases associated with Gulf War service, including malaria, West Nile virus, and non-typhoid salmonella.

• In July 2010, the VA published a historic change to its rules, streamlining the process and paperwork needed by combat veterans, regardless of the war they served in, to pursue a claim for disability pay for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Daily I am told by Vietnam Veterans the feel VA is procrastinating on their claims waiting on them to die so they do not have to pay anything because disability is only for the Veteran. I have been asked to stop telling them that when the truth is they tell me and I have no good answer to dispute their claim.

I am working with (10) that fall in either Agent Orange medical conditions of PTSD. I have (2) Korean Veterans with PTSD and hearing loss and they are still fighting for their deserved disability.

We also have 50,500 Gulf War/Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans in New Mexico and am working with (15) with PTSD, and presumptive conditions that continue to be denied by our Albuquerque Regional VA Office. These Veterans struggle as severe or more severe than older Veterans because they still have children to provide for and cannot keep a job.

Being told things are always getting better, but not in New Mexico, Marriages failing, relationships ending and inability to keep a job because of the PTSD. This is a repeat of the Vietnam Veteran Story.

Veterans from all wars have attended inpatient treatment for PTSD and a year or more later still waiting for claim to be approved. Others attending this program from other states have been approved within 90 days.

We need all these Veterans and the public to start demanding from our Senators and Congressmen to take care of New Mexico Veterans.