Pres. Obama has plan to help mental health of soldiers, vets

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – More than a third of all U.S. veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, but many veterans don’t get the help they need.

Now President Barack Obama says that’s about to change. At the American Legion Convention in North Carolina, the President outlined a 19-point initiative to help the mental health of soldiers and veterans.

MORE | You can find the 19-point initiative here

“We have to end this tragedy of suicide among our troops and veterans,” said President Obama.

That’s something Doc D’Amato has tried to do for years as a volunteer through Buffalo’s VA Hospital.

“The problem was, there were so many people coming back from the war zone and not enough time to deal with them because we didn’t have enough staff. But now with this new program and the money that he made available, it’ll change everything,” said D’Amato.

One of the changes will help the transition for mental health patients. If a soldier is on one kind of medication overseas, he can stay on that medication as he transitions to the VA Health System.

“We want to make sure that no vet ever forgets another veteran,” said Marty O’Connor.

He and Bill Scharra are Vietnam vets who volunteer their time seeking out veterans wherever they can find them. They go to the Quaker Art Festival, Ellicottville Fall Fest, and gun shows to show vets and their wives a list of symptoms to see if they have post traumatic stress disorder.

“I show him this list of things and he goes, ‘Yeah, that and that.’ And the wife goes, ‘He’s got all of them,'” said O’Connor.

For Bill Scharra, it’s personal.

“Partly because for 40 years I didn’t realize I needed help. I finally admitted I needed help and it’s been the best thing that’s happened to me. It’s just made a tremendous change in my life and I want to make sure these young kids don’t live 40 years like I did,” said Scharra.

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