I presented the following letter in Reno at the D.A.V. State Convention. Christina Silva, who was appointed by President Obama read the letter and called me saying that she was going to have me on TV. She came to my house and took me to a hotel in Downey where I was interviewed.
My name is Byron Holtzclaw and I am a proud disabled US Navy Veteran. I feel very honored to have this opportunity to be here and to speak to you today about something I believe we should all be passionate about – Veterans’ welfare. I have worked for over 20 years helping Vets because I believe these are the men and women who, having fought for our freedom, deserve our utmost respect and support.
But this respect and support is not always available to our Vets. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs from records in twenty-one states, every day 22 veterans take their own lives. Also, you might be surprised to know that women veterans kill themselves at twice the rate of unenlisted women, a gap much larger than male veterans and mal non-vets. These are our brothers and sisters – our comrades. We are taught never to leave a man behind, and that belief shoudl be true after vets retire, are decommissioned, are disabled and are in need.
On February 12, 2015 President Obama signed into law, The Clay Hunt SAV Law. This law will help prevent Veterans suicide. It provides a safety net of mental health support for Veterans in emotional distress. But we need to do more.
I am here to ask you to join with me and help find answers to this existing problem. Many times poor economic conditions returning veterans encounter make their transition from military service to home very difficult. Add to this untreated mental health problems and this is the recipe for disaster. I would like to share with you one possible solution that might change this situation and save the lives of our fellow Veterans.
I believe the Federal Government should provide temporary food and lodging to returning veterans who are in need of this support. This food and lodging should be available to every vet who needs this safety net for as long as they are in need. There is absolutely no reason for our vets to be roaming the streets as ”homeless” or killing themselves because of undiagnosed emotional problems. Also, I believe that the very government these veterans served and risked their lives for, should in turn, offer tax incentives to large companies to hire veterans. In addition, companies should hire veterans whose experience can be used to train other soldiers not only at home but in areas of conflict, like Iraq.
The help I provided for Vets during the years was made possible with the guidance of Mr. Rex Jennings who has since retired from the VA Hospital in Long Beach, California. He continues to inspire other vets to stand up and change how our Vets are treated or mistreated once they get home. My old website, VeteransAidingVeterans.org was possible with the help of another Vet, George Terrillo, who served two tours in Vietnam. When George moved the website was shut down.
While managing a Fortune 500 Company I developed the connections with people who have the power to assist Veterans and their needs. But one person’s efforts are not enough. I know many of you lead busy lives and have families that demand your attention. But I hope that my example, as an 84 year old veteran, may be an encouragement for you to join with me in the fight to help our Vets. Hopefully, you will follow me in the support of our vets. And with the implementation of this venture, I will then donate my monthly Veterans Disability Pension to help other Veterans in need.
In conclusion, I would like to give special thanks to Mr. Joel Devonish, Adjutant of Chapter 46 DAV and Mr. Terry Peck, Commander of Chapter 46. who made it possible for me to be here today. Joel is a modern day hero who has undergone several operations because of his service and walks with the help of iron. In closing, I want to thank all of you for listening to my speech and supporting me in this endeavor to help our fellow brothers and sisters walk an easier path in life. I salute you.
Finally, a special thanks to Ms. Christina Silva, for listening to me and promoting my dream to help all veterans. Thank you,