FRONTLINE TO HOMEFRONT

March 05, 2019 at 5:00 am

Find out how local veterans are making a difference within their ranks and in our communities.

Aired on March 4, 2019. 

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>> WE CONTINUE NOW WITH OUR
SERIES FRONT LINE TO HOME FRONT
WHERE WE LOOK AT THE CHALLENGES
OVER 3 MILLION POST 9/11
VETERANS ARE FACING SINCE
THEY'VE RETURNED FROM SERVICE IN
IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.
AMONG THAT GROUP A WIDE SWATH OF
AGES, BABY BOOMERS, GEN-Xers,
AND NOW GENERATION Z.
THE FEMALE VETERAN POPULATION
ALSO BRINGS A NEW SET OF
CHALLENGES AS THEIR RANKS IS
EXPECTED TO DOUBLE IN THE COMING
YEARS AND OUR VETS ARE FACING A
NEW ILLNESS AS WELL.
BUT THERE'S GOOD NEWS.
AN ORGANIZATION CALLED IRAQ AND
AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA
IS WORKING TOWARD FINDING
SOLUTIONS.
JOINING US NOW WITH DETAILS, TWO
VETERANS, VADIM PANASYUK AND
CYNTHIA FANAA.
WE WELCOME BOTH OF YOU TO
"METROFOCUS."
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.
>> LET ME START BECAUSE I WANT
TO GET A PERSPECTIVE FROM EACH
OF YOU AND HOW YOU LOOK AT THIS
AND WORK ON THIS.
TELL ME EACH, VADIM, I WILL
START WITH YOU, WHY YOU JOINED
THE MILITARY.
BASICALLY WHAT YOU DID THERE AND
WHAT YOU'RE DOING NOW WITH THE
ORGANIZATION.
>> MY WHOLE FAMILY COME FROM
UKRAINE, I'M AN IMMIGRANT, I WAS
NATURALIZED IN THE MILITARY.
I GOT MY CITIZENSHIP IN BAGHDAD.
>> THAT WAS A GREAT STORY.
SECOND TOUR AND YOU GET YOUR
CITIZENSHIP.
>> YES, SIR.
>> GOOD FOR YOU.
GOOD FOR YOU.
>> THE MILITARY HAS ALWAYS BEEN
A PART OF MY LIFE, ALL THE MEN
SERVED IN THE SOVIET MILITARY,
IN WORLD WAR II I HAD FAMILY
FIGHTING THE SOVIETS AND AGAINST
THE SOVIETS.
IT WAS ALWAYS PART OF MY LIFE
AND AFTER 9/11 I WAS ALREADY
HERE FOR A FEW YEARS, YOU KNOW,
THIS WAS MY NEW HOME, MY NEW
COUNTRY AND IT WAS A NO-BRAINER
FOR ME.
>> CYNTHIA, HOW ABOUT YOU?
WHAT GOT YOU INTO IT?
>> I'M ALSO AN IMMIGRANT, I WAS
BORN IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
AND I DID NOT GET MY CITIZENSHIP
IN THE ARMY, IT WAS BEFORE THAT,
BUT I FELT A SENSE OF SERVICE
EVEN COMING FROM, YOU KNOW,
FAMILY LISTEN ANALOGY OF
MILITARY PEOPLE AND IT JUST FELT
RIGHT.
IT WAS PART OF MY LIFE, INTO I
ENTIRE LIFE.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT THE O, HOW
IT GOT STARTED AND WHAT EACH OF
YOU DO WITHIN THAT ORGANIZATION.
>> SURE.
SO IAVA HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE
2004, IT WAS STARTED BY OUR COO
AND FOUNDER PAUL RIKOFF.
A LOT OF THE GENERATIONS BEFORE
US HAD DEDICATED ORGANIZATIONS
THAT PUSHED SOME OF THE ISSUES
THAT WERE IMPORTANT TO THEM AND
PAUL NOTICED THAT THERE WAS A
LACK OF THAT VOICE FOR THIS
GENERATION OF VETS.
>> CYNTHIA, HOW ABOUT YOU, WHAT
DREW YOU TO THE ORGANIZATION?
>> SO I HEARD ABOUT IT FIRST
FROM MY PROFESSOR, HE
ACTUALLY -- WE HAD A MUTUAL
FRIEND THAT WORKED AT IAVA
BEFORE AND HE TOLD ME ABOUT THE
ORGANIZATION, I HAD NO IDEA
ABOUT IT WHICH A LOT OF VETERANS
HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THE SERVICES
OTHER ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDE, BUT
I STARTED IN THE HUMAN RESOURCES
DEPARTMENT AND NOW I AM THE HEAD
OF HUMAN RESOURCES.
>> WHAT ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT
ISSUES DO YOU SEE THE VETERANS
EXPERIENCING WHEN YOU'RE TALKING
ABOUT THEIR EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT?
>> THE ISSUES RANGE FROM GETTING
YOUR CHECKS ON TIME TO MAKING
SURE THAT THE SCHOOL GETS PAID
AN YOU ARE GETTING IN, TO OTHER
MORE SIGNIFICANT ISSUES WHEN A
SERVICE MEMBER IS TRYING TO
TRANSFER THEIR BENEFITS AND
THERE IS A LOT OF CONFUSION
ABOUT THAT.
WE'VE WORKED WITH DEPENDENTS OF
VETERANS WHO ARE STUCK WITH
$30,000, $40,000, $50,000 BILLS
BECAUSE IT TOOK VA A COUPLE
YEARS TO CATCH UP TO A FAILED
TRANSFERABILITY.
WITH OUR DEFICITS AND WITH
EVERYTHING GOING ON NOW,
EVERYTHING IS ON THE CHOPPING
BLOCK.
SO I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT
TO MAINTAIN THE PRESSURE ON
CONGRESS AND MAINTAINING ON THE
LEVERS OF POWER TO MAKE SURE
THESE BENEFITS ARE PROTECTED.
>> I MENTIONED IN THE
INTRODUCTION A VARIETY OF
ISSUES, WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS.
WITH HE TALKED ABOUT THE FACT
THAT THERE ARE SO MANY WOMEN NOW
COMING OUT OF THE MILITARY.
SO WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THEN
COUNSELING AND HELPING FEMALE
VETERANS AS OPPOSED TO MALE
VETERANS?
>> IT'S NOT EQUAL TO A MAN'S
CARE.
WE LAUNCHED A CAMPAIGN CALLED
THE SHE WHO WAS BORN TO BATTLE
CAMPAIGN BECAUSE, WELL, THE IRS
THING THAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU WALK
INTO THE VA IS THEIR MOTTO, TO
CARE FOR HIM AND HIS WIDOW AND
SERVANT.
>> THERE'S MORE THAN HIM'S.
>> I'M WALKING INTO THE VA AND I
SEE THAT MOTTO, I DON'T FEEL
LIKE I'M BEING REPRESENTED, BUT
THE SERVICES WE'RE LUCKY HERE IN
NEW YORK THAT WE HAVE, YOU KNOW,
MULTIPLE VAs THAT ARE BIG AND
HAVE SERVICES, BUT WHAT ABOUT
THOSE THAT LIVE IN SMALLER
TOWNS, THEY DON'T HAVE MAMMOGRAM
MACHINES, THIS HE DON'T HAVE
PROSTHETIC STAFF TO FIT WOMEN TO
THEY HAVE TO BE FITTED WITH
MEN'S PROSTHETICS.
WE WANT EQUAL SERVICE AND IAVA
IS LEADING THE WAY IN THAT WITH
OUR DEBORAH SAMPSON ACT.
>> I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT ONE
OTHER THINGS.
I MENTIONED THE NOTION OF
ILLNESSES THAT VETERANS ARE
COMING BACK WITH.
WE'VE HEARD TALK ABOUT THE
BURNING PITS AND THE IMPACT IT
HAD.
THERE HAVE BEEN PARALLELS
SUGGESTED MADE TO AGENT ORANGE
IN VIETNAM.
>> TO YOUR VIEWERS WHO DON'T
KNOW WHAT A BURN PIT IS, IT'S
BASICALLY A WAY THAT FORWARD
DEPLOYED UNITS GET RID OF WASTE,
WHETHER IT IS HUMAN WASTE,
WHETHER IT'S, YOU KNOW, WASTE OF
THE CHOW HALL, CERTAIN PAINTS,
WHATEVER IS GOING ON, THEY THROW
IT IN THIS BIG PIT, DOUSE IT
WITH JET FUEL AND BURN IT.
TYPICALLY THIS CREATES VERY
TOXIC PLUMES OF SMOKE AND THAT
IS ALSO HOW, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE
BURN HUMAN WASTE AS WELL.
YOU HAVE A PRIVATE WITH A
PICKETT STIRRING THAT STUFF AS
IT BURNS DOWN TO A PUCK SO YOU
CAN BURY IT.
A LOT OF VETERANS ARE REPORTING
RESPIRATORY ISSUES, DECLINE IN
LUNG FUNCTION AND THINGS OF THAT
NATURE.
YOU'VE MENTIONED AGENT ORANGE,
WHICH, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF
VIETNAM VETERANS WERE SUFFERING
FROM, AND IT TOOK UP UNTIL, I
BELIEVE, LATE '80s OR EARLY '90s
FOR THE VA TO RECOGNIZE IT AS A
PRESUMPTIVE ILLNESS TO WHERE
THESE VETERANS WOULD GET
COMPENSATED WHERE THEY WOULD GET
THE CARE THAT THEY NEED,
SPECIFIC CARE FOR WHAT THEY'VE
ENCOUNTERED AND SOMETHING
SOMETHING THAT IAVA IS DOING, WE
ARE KIND OF USING THAT PLAYBOOK
EXCEPT WE'RE TRYING TO
ACCELERATE IT.
WE'RE NOT TRYING TO WAIT 30
YEARS BEFORE THE VA ACCEPTS THIS
AS FACT.
WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE THAT
HAPPEN TODAY.
>> BOTH OF YOU, VADIM, CYNTHIA,
OUR THANKS TO YOU CERTAINLY FOR
THE SERVICE YOU PERFORMED IN THE
PAST, FOR OUR COUNTRY, AND FOR
THE SERVICE YOU'RE CONTINUING TO
PERFORM.
SO WE THANK YOU FOR ALL OF THAT
AND A I'M SURE THE PEOPLE WHO
ARE WORKING WITH YOU THANK YOU.
YOU BOTH BE WELL AND WE
APPRECIATE IT.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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