|Oregon State Bar Bulletin JUNE 2010|
I want to thank and compliment the Bulletin for Ron Talney’s “Haiti Remembered” piece in the February/March 2010 issue. There are a lot of ways to be a lawyer and just as many ways to use the skills we acquire in the process. Talney’s touching piece on the people and pain of Haiti illustrates how one man used his skills and experience to make a difference. Let him be an inspiration to us all.
John M. Parkhurst, Portland
Don’t Make Assumptions
Although the title is unnecessarily inflammatory, the article “Firestorm on the Horizon” (April 2010) presents valuable information about combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who are involved in the legal system. It is essential that we expand the legal services available to veterans, and it is heartening to read about lawyers who are doing that.
However, it is equally important to avoid stereotyping. For decades, Vietnam veterans were shamefully ignored and falsely labeled. Thankfully, we have moved on and are now respecting and supporting veterans. Ironically, the new risk is that commendable articles like “Firestorm” that highlight genuine problems among some veterans can unintentionally create a misleading impression about combat veterans as a whole. The large majority of combat veterans with PTSD are not homeless, are not violent and do not commit crimes. If you want a good worker, hire a combat vet with or without PTSD. If you want a friend with strong values and invaluable perspective on life, spend time with a combat veteran with or without PTSD.
Combat veterans carry so much that we must not add to their load by making assumptions when we learn that someone is a combat veteran with PTSD. We can do two things at once: recognize the role that PTSD may have played in the actions of combat veterans who face criminal charges or civil proceedings, and simultaneously remember that most veterans with PTSD have not gotten into legal trouble and probably never will.
Jeffrey L. Rogers, Portland
Oregon Doing A Better Job
The April Bulletin article about veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder (“Firestorm on the Horizon”) should be underscored in another way.
It appears that Oregon lawyers are doing better to provide for our service men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder than does the federal government’s Department of Veterans Affairs. The feds are understaffed, underfunded, bureaucratic and slow. A PTSD-disabled veteran is entitled to a disability pension paid by the government. But it takes them a long time — sometimes years — to get their rights.
Edward N. Fadeley, Creswell
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