If you write a diary this holiday weekend about soldiers or Memorial Day, post your link below.

“Under law, employers must try to accommodate soldiers wounded in war.” But, asks the Seattle PI, “how do employers accommodate hidden psychological wounds of war?”

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFinally back from Iraq, fresh out of the Marines, hooked up with a job as a diesel mechanic, the 22-year-old from Whatcom County [Byron Anderson] was making progress.

Then he made a mistake in the pit, and got called on it by a supervisor. He felt belittled, angry by the man taking him to task. “I honestly don’t remember what he said. All I could do is imagine all the different ways I was going to hurt him,” says the former infantryman.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us“That’s what scared me. That’s when I realized I needed a little more time off.”

He took a month to cool down, found another job and started welding classes at Skagit Valley College to boost his job skills.

Most days are OK now. But sometimes, at work, a memory from Iraq will suddenly pop up in his head. “It’s like a quick flash, like a still photograph.”

He prefers not to elaborate. “I chose to live with these nightmares. There’s no reason anyone else should have to.” More below:

PHOTO ABOVE LEFT: “Byron Anderson, 22, a former Marine who suffers from PTSD, practices his welding at Skagit Valley College in hopes of improving his job skills.” (Seattle PI)


More from the Seattle PI:

Under law, employers must try to accommodate soldiers wounded in war.

That could mean installing special controls in a truck for a driver who comes home from Iraq with a prosthetic limb, or finding a desk job for a cop who has lost his shooting hand.

But how do employers accommodate hidden psychological wounds of war?

With up to one in four veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq now being treated for mental disorders at VA centers, it’s a question more local businesses are forced to grapple with.

“PTSD is starting to come up more and more as an issue,” says Bryon Burgess, director of the state Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an organization that helps returning vets with problems in the workplace, as well as the companies that employ them.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, exacerbated by intense close-up combat, affects a soldier’s brain, often resulting in insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, hyper-alertness, anxiety and rage — conditions that can cause problems on the job.

“If I didn’t work where I work, I’d be fired on a daily basis because of the outbursts… the aggression,” says Michael Colon, a 35-year-old National Guardsman who works as a mechanic in Bellingham. … diagnosed with PTSD after returning from Iraq.

Under employment laws designed to protect uniformed soldiers’ work rights, the disorder is classified as a disability, just like having had an arm amputated.

But many soldiers aren’t aware of the laws — or won’t talk about the condition. “A lot of returning vets are still afraid to admit they have PTSD,” said Burgess. …


Cheri Page, Bob Patsfield, and Tom Bihn
Boxes of supplies for the vets
Tom hands Ron a check and Ron hands Tom a plaque

I “borrowed” the following from the site for the company of which my daughter is vice president of marketing. Thanks to their iconoclastic t-shirt sales, they raised $16,000, which was kindly received by the Seattle Vet Center, which helps homeless veterans in Seattle, many of whom are from the Gulf and Iraq wars. Here’s my daughter’s story:

On Friday, November 5th, we had the opportunity to visit the Seattle Vet Center in Seattle, Washington to see first hand how the money donated from sales of the French Label t-shirt had benefited the veterans.

Homeless vets from all wars, including the current Iraq war, were invited to come by the center to receive flu shots, boots, flash lights, sleeping bags, tarps and a sack lunch. Most of these items were paid for using part of the almost $16,000 we have donated to the center from of sales of the infamous t-shirt.

Thanks to all of our fabulous customers. You are truly making a difference.

Want to know what the whole label story is about?

From top:

Cheri Page (our factory manager and Vietnam Vet), Bob Patsfield, and Tom Bihn. Tom is handing Bob the first check.

Ron looking over boxes of supplies to be distributed to the vets during the Stand Down.

Tom hands Ron a second check and Ron hands Tom a plaque thanking us for our donations.

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.  ~José Narosky

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