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WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi has appointed seven new members to the committee that advises him on readjustment programs run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
"The emotional and psychological effects of combat can make the readjustment to civilian life every bit as challenging as the physical injuries we can see," said Principi. "This committee is instrumental in helping to guide VA's efforts in providing the care and services veterans need to successfully transition from military service to family and community life."
The Advisory Committee on the Readjustment of Veterans reviews current VA programs aimed at helping veterans readjust to civilian life and evaluates their effectiveness. The committee assesses availability, ease of access, quality and veteran satisfaction with the services provided.
The new members of the committee are: Michael G. DePaulo of Boston; David J. Greco of Woodbridge, Va.; Allen K. Hoe of Honolulu; Robert W. Maras of Manchester, N.J.; Wade R. Sanders of San Diego; Kenneth O. Stout of Anchorage, Alaska; and Jay A. Weiss, M.D., of Monroe, La.
Committee members update the secretary regarding the nature and character of psychological problems stemming from military service and recommend policies, organizational changes and services necessary to meet the readjustment needs of veterans in the future.
Of particular interest to the committee is VA's continued support for the care of war-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including community-based VetCenters and the full range of medical center-based treatment programs.
VA's 206 Vet Centers, located across the nation, have served over 1.6 million veterans since the program began in 1979. In fiscal year 2000, VetCenter staff saw over 130,000 veterans and provided more than 900,000 visits to veterans and family members.
Although the original legislation authorizing the program restricted readjustment counseling to Vietnam veterans who were at greatest risk at the time, current law allows VA to provide outreach and counseling to any veteran exposed to war-zone stress in any war, conflict or peacekeeping mission.
The committee includes 15 members chosen based on their veteran status, professional leadership experience, ethnic and geographical diversity. Veterans service organizations and women veterans are also represented.
The committee chairman is John F. Sommer Jr., of Falls Church, Va. Sommer is executive director of the Washington office of The American Legion
Advisory Committee on the Readjustment of Veterans
John F. Sommer Jr., Falls Church, Va. Chairperson of Advisory Committee and Executive Director, The American Legion. Served as combat medic in Vietnam.
Michael G. DePaulo, Boston. Rolling Thunder organizer and a Marine Corps veteran during Vietnam.
Diane Carlson Evans, R.N., Helena, Mont. Registered nurse who served on active duty in the Army during the Vietnam War. Founder of the Vietnam Women's Memorial.
Arthur E. Fillmore II, Kansas City, Mo. Attorney, founder and president of the Heart of America Stand Down Foundation for homeless veterans and Army officer in the Vietnam War.
David J. Greco, Woodbridge, Va. Former chief of both Marine Corps and Navy Casualty Headquarters and a Marine Corps veteran of the Beirut deployment and Gulf War.
Allen K. Hoe, Honolulu. Attorney and combat medic during the Vietnam War.
Robert W. Maras, Manchester, N.J. Former police officer and national officer of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War.
Carlos Martinez, San Antonio. President and CEO of the American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program. An Air Force veteran of the Vietnam era.
David H. Pryce, M.S.S.W., Tuscaloosa, Ala. Instructor, School of Social Work, University of Alabama. Retired Army officer and veteran of three tours in Vietnam.
Mary Candice Ross, Ph.D., Mobile, Ala. Associate Dean and Professor, College of Nursing, University of SouthAlabama. Air Force veteran of Gulf War and Somalia.
Wade R. Sanders, San Diego. Attorney and retired Navy Captain.
Richard C. Schneider, Alexandria, Va. National director of state veterans affairs with the Non Commissioned Officers Association of the United States. Air Force retiree and Vietnam veteran.
Kenneth O. Stout, Anchorage, Alaska. Retired Army officer and veteran of both Korea and Vietnam. Former Deputy Director of Emergency Services for City of Anchorage.
Peter B. Vaughn, Ph.D., New York City. Dean, Graduate School of Social Service, FordhamUniversity. Served as Army social work officer in Vietnam.
Jay A. Weiss, M.D., Monroe, La. Psychiatrist and Air Force pilot of C-130 transports during the Vietnam War.