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Helping Veterans Transition Back To Civilian Life

(via Flickr/KurtClark)

Memorial Day is one of just a couple days a year in which attention is brought specifically to veterans.

While the remembrance earlier this week is a reminder of veterans’ service to the country, the issues and needs associated with returning veterans is an ongoing issue.  Many veterans struggle with health and emotional issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), have difficulty finding jobs and trouble finding a new normalcy in civilian life.

“The wounds of war are not apparent in many situations such as PTSD and the stigma that comes along with it,” said Deborah Marshall, Veterans’ Programming Coordinator for the Missouri Humanities Council and Director of the Warriors Arts Alliance, which encourages veterans to express themselves through writing and photography.

"You can't teach a warrior to transition out of something that may have lasted a few years in just a few days." - Tracy Carpenter Bond

Marshall recently worked with StoryCorps during the group’s visit to St. Louis.  StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit group “whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.”  StoryCorps makes a concerted effort to gather and share the stories of veterans.

Along with Deborah Marshall, Ryan Barrett, Interim Director at the University of Missouri – St. Louis Veteran’s Center, and Tracy Carpenter Bond, Veterans’ Affairs Coordinator at St. Louis Community College, joined host Don Marsh to talk about veterans and their transition to civilian life.

As mentioned during the program, Glenn Smith, a 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran from St. Louis, struggles with PTSD and other medical problems.  He said he is troubled by the Veterans Administration backlog of cases and extended wait time.  Smith was profiled in a recent story on NPR.

Tracy Carpenter Bond stressed the role of community colleges for veterans.  While many veterans are capable of performing civilian duties based on knowledge and skills gained in the military, many lack paper credentials.

That’s why veterans retraining assistance programs and certificates of proficiency and specialization are important to veterans, according to Bond.  “You can’t teach a warrior to transition out of something that may have lasted a few years in just a few days,” she said.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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