Help for Veterans
Mary White is an Air Force veteran who was one of the first females stationed at Mather Air Force Base. After serving her country for 10 years, White now puts her energy into helping all veterans as the District 13 Commander of Team Amvets, an agency within the state of California—they can be reached at (916) 320-0804 or via their website at www.teamamvets.org.
I asked White about the services her office provides and was surprised by her answer: “We serve all veterans, in all branches of service, including the Merchant Marines. How many military service organizations can say that?”
White’s office serves El Dorado, Sacramento, and Yolo counties. One of the programs White and her Amvets help organize is: Sacramento Stand Down, a three day event that was most recently held this past summer at Mather Air Force Base (AFB). The event, attended by more than 200 U.S. military veterans, provides essential services and comfort to veterans and their dependents, and has been doing so since Sacramento Stand Down was created in 1992. The mission of the organization is to end homelessness for veterans in Sacramento County, for more information on this visit www.standdownsacramento.org/.
In addition to assisting with Sacramento Stand Down, Amvets provides clothing for veterans who may have a job interview or, as White stated, “fill in the gaps” in essential services for veterans if they need help weaving their way through the maze of bureaucratic paperwork. There are approximately 180,000 veterans living in California with about 10 percent being women.
At the recent Air Show at Mather AFB, the Amvets had a booth that functioned as a clearinghouse for veterans, especially those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “My organization was helpful in saving 28 veterans from committing suicide because they found the help they needed,” said White.
It is reported that a veteran commits suicide every 22 minutes in the United States and, as a reminder, I was given a wristband by White that is inscribed “22 Everyday,” referring to the suicide crisis concerning our veterans. If a veteran calls the (800) 273-8255 crisis line, they will get a counselor to help them deal with their immediate emotions. White told me that veterans do not like to call for help because they believe the myth that “the cops will come and get you,” meaning that they might be detained for psychiatric evaluation.
There has been progress on the PTSD issue. White tells me that Amvets was instrumental in getting the California Department of Motor Vehicles to issue licenses to veterans that indicate the veteran suffers from PTSD and the act of being pulled over for a vehicle violation may heighten the agitation level of the driver. It does not mean these drivers are dangerous, it just means the officer is aware of who they are dealing with.
White asked me to remind the general public that Amvets would like to get additional support for their organization through financial contributions. Also, volunteering for the organization is always appreciated and is a great way to give back to “those who served.”