A newly formed national organization wants to aid Rim Country military, fire and police veterans in getting the help they need, mostly by helping them connect to existing medical and social service providers.
From recent Afghanistan combat veterans who need counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to World War II vets facing the loss of their home, Operation American Patriot (OAP) has the resources to help.
Jerry Innacci, former Homeland Security special adviser and CEO of the newly formed OAP organization, decided to launch in Arizona because of the number of retired veterans in the state. He recently visited Payson to enlist volunteers to bring the group’s services to Rim Country.
Innacci’s career includes stints in law enforcement and the military. He has connections from Washington, D.C. to the West Coast. With these assets, he has set an ambitious goal: help veterans — in particular those suffering from PTSD — assimilate into life.
Recognizing help needs to happen one person at a time, Innacci said, “This has to happen on a local level.”
In the last six months, OAP has had 500 cases nationally and resolved 80 percent of them. On April 7 at 6:30 p.m. OAP will have a kick off celebration at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort for its new, Arizona branch. The public is invited to join.
Innacci decided to start OAP after working with Sen. McCain on his Veterans Coalition Volunteers organization. While there, he made many friends with veterans and their families. He heard firsthand of their struggles to return to civilian life after a military career.
Because the government takes care of all their needs while they work for the service, military personnel sometimes face a difficult transition once they return to civilian life. They return with the expectation they will just pick up on civilian life and move on — but some who suffer from PTSD, find that any little thing can set them off.
When they enter crisis mode, many of the agencies set up to help, fail to address their needs.
In a published account of how their advocacy works, OAP described case number 0852011-1. This case took two hours to resolve:
An angry veteran called his congressman’s office saying, “I have no job, child support is after me and I’m thinking crazy thoughts.”
The staff in the congressman’s office called OAP’s hotline. OAP immediately contacted the veteran to listen to his needs and then assured him they would find the help he needed. OAP’s medical clinical team director called the veteran to evaluate his mental health needs. After evaluation, the clinical team director called the nearest Veterans Affairs (VA) service center and made an immediate referral to the VA clinical director.
The VA called the veteran to follow up and recommend treatment.
OAP then called its legal adviser to start pro-bono legal services to address the child support issues.
Within two hours, OAP resolved the roadblocks the veteran had faced in getting help. This took him out of crisis mode, which could have easily resulted in suicide.
Once his immediate needs had settled down, OAP set the veteran up with their contacts at Jobbing.com for counseling and aid finding a job.