Rep. David B. McKinley asked Marshall County veterans Thursday what Congress needs to do to best assist those who have served their country in the military.
McKinley, R-W.Va., presided over a roundtable discussion for veterans convened at Remke Helping Hands Medical Supply store in downtown Moundsville. He has been hosting similar roundtable discussions throughout the 1st District, and McKinley said he was hoping to see patterns in the issues raised by the veterans at the different forums.
About 10 veterans were present, and first spoke of the need to help veterans who return home - but find themselves homeless.
Photo by Joselyn King
Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., right, speaks with Richard Lemery during a roundtable discussion for veterans in Moundsville Thursday.
Leila Miller, director of Helping Heroes in Moundsville, spoke of her agency's efforts to establish temporary apartment housing for these veterans, and of the cost to bring some of Moundsville's vacant buildings up to code for the effort.
McKinley reminded those present he was a civil engineer for 47 years before being elected to the House in 2010.
"And I've been to so many homeless shelters that were not up to code," he said. "Most of these were run by private organizations with the best intentions. They invested a significant amount of money in these buildings, but they nevertheless put our military men and women at risk."
The veterans also spoke of the bureaucratic frustrations often encountered by those experiencing the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many explained veterans often wait months or years for a diagnosis that will lead to their getting treatment - sometimes while they are having suicidal thoughts.
PTSD also can occur years after military service, they continued. One Vietnam War veteran in attendance said his symptoms surfaced more than 40 years after being discharged.
And McKinley said today's returning veterans don't always know the benefits that are due them. Either they are not told of them by military personnel, or they are so anxious to be returning home their mind isn't on listening, he said.