Resources available to local military veterans
On this Memorial Day we are taking a closer look at the resources available to local veterans.
Vietnam Veterans of America
“This was me at 25. We were in an area that had 100% casualties, that means that all the guys were wounded; it was an accident every night. Sometimes we’d go five days without any sleep,” says Vietnam veteran Ralph Bakle.
Bakle says he did not realize he was affected by PTSD until long after he left the war.
But five years ago, he started attending free PTSD classes where he discovered the signs came out throughout the years.
“I had a hard time showing affection to my family,” says Bakle.
Bakle says he was helped enormously by those classes. He’s now president of the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Part of his job is planning gatherings for other military veterans in St. Joseph County.
“What we learn with a psychiatrist in PTSD class is what we do amongst ourselves when we go to these luncheons and breakfasts. We talk amongst ourselves just like we do there (in class). So it’s a healing process for everybody,” says Bakle.
The inclination to help is also rooted in Mike Reichmann’s personal history with the military. He, too, fought in the Vietnam War.
“I remember some of the situations that vets returning from Vietnam experienced when they came home,” says Reichmann.
He’s now one of around thirty local Hometown Support Volunteers with H.E.R.O.E.S. Care.
The program is new to Michiana, it was just introduced five months ago. But it’s farther along in other states, with around 3,000 HSVs across the country.
“We focus on post 9/11 veterans who are experiencing an incredible amount of psychological stress in their military experience,” says Reichmann.
They provide one-on-one support to current military members, veterans, and their families.
Reichmann says they listen and support but they don’t “fix.”
“We can help them find other sources that maybe more appropriately help them in whatever situation they’re in,” says Reichmann.
Another aspect of H.E.R.O.S. Care is called Give an Hour, connecting members with someone in the mental health field for free counseling.