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  • Friday, April 17, 2015

    National Commander Attacks Use of Drugs for Treating PTSD

    American Legion National Commander Michael Helm swung through New York State April 15-17, bringing strong words about the way veterans and military personnel are being treated for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

    “We think the VA and DOD are using far too many drugs.”

    Mike Helm

    Mike Helm

    There are alternative therapies that the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense need to adopt, Helm said. “We can find better ways” because “the way we’re using drugs leads to” abuse, homelessness, suicide.

    Helm, joined by Department Commander Frank Peters and other Legion leaders, toured the Capital Region’s Watervliet Arsenal and addressed a packed banquet hall in Saratoga Springs Wednesday before visiting Watertown Thursday to tour Fort Drum and speak at another Legion banquet. Friday he brought his message to New York City at a dinner in Queens.

    Other key points he made:

    — “We are a God and Country organization, and we’re not going to back away from that.”

    — “We understand who and what a veteran is” and “it’s up to us to remind the country” about the debt the nation owes for the sacrifices veterans have made.

    — “We stand for a strong national defense,” and that means sending servicemen and women into harm’s way with both the purpose and the right equipment to get the job done. It also means protecting the home-front and taking care of military families back home.

    — Membership is critical to the American Legion’s program pillars and advocacy, which makes it all the more important for posts to reach out to members who do not renew. Get them involved, he said. “It’s important for you to do things in your community” and “for veterans in your community.” With 2.4 million Legion members, 800,000 Auxiliary members, 370,000 members of the Sons of the American Legion, the Legion Family can make a difference in community, state and nation. The American Legion Riders “is the fastest growing facet of the American Legion,” dedicated to welcoming troops home, providing escorts for fallen warriors, and raising nearly $1 million for the Legacy Scholarship Fund (which provides scholarships for children of servicemen and women who died for their country.

    Drum & Bugle Corps

    Original Yanks Drum & Bugle Corps performs National Anthem during National Commander Mike Helm’s visit to Watertown.