Adam Greathouse was deployed to Yugoslavia in 2001. While on tank patrol, toxic dust engulfed him. He suffered terrible chemical burns that cause brain injury, organ failure. He was on a ventilator for weeks; lost 100 lbs. Over the next ten years he became an alcoholic, contemplated suicide. He felt tremendous guilt thinking he had let his country down.
But in 2011 his life changed. He found a Veterans Center that offered him white water rafting. Shooting the rapids gave him a glimpse of what he missed about the army – teamwork and camaraderie. Adam once again became part of a group working together to guide the raft to safe water. The veteran’s center gave him the valuable experience to conquer his difficult physical and mental challenges. Adam learned never to give up. The Veterans’ Center helped him begin a life-affirming journey.
Mark Bartoloni, a local resident, can relate to Adam’s story. Mark is a 100% disabled Vietnam vet. For rehabilitation on his hip and shoulder replacements, Mr. Bartoloni became a resident at the NMSVH. Everyday after physical therapy, he would walk the circumference of the building. Along the way, he began to meet and get to know the veterans living in the soldier’s home. And soon he heard their loneliness, their anger.
What the veterans said reminded Mark of was how he felt in 1969 when he was discharged from the Army. Alcohol became his best friend, day and night. For 18 years he drifted in and out of homeless shelters, jails and VA hospitals. But then a miracle happened. A compassionate nurse directed him to a Veterans’ Center in Boston. They not only welcomed him in with a cup of coffee, a counselor to talk to, a game of pool with fellow vets, but the Center got him to a PTSD unit, Ward 8 in North Hampton, Massachusetts. After seven months, Mark got sober and was able to deal with his PTSD. He went from living on the streets to a man with a future.
Like Adam Greathouse, a Veterans’ Center gave another vet hope.
Our NM veterans need and deserve a Veterans’ Home in T-or-C. They deserve a center that stands ready to address their psychological and social needs. It’s time to provide support to those brave veterans who served our country.
And this center is approaching reality! For the 8,500 veterans living in Sierra County, the future is bright!
(Over 350 words paid)