Commentary: Don’t wait to ask for help, or to lend a hand

John DeMello, Southington Veterans Committee
Phone: (860) 276-6299

As we grow older, we often take for granted that life will always be great; sickness and death is not something that will happen to us, our family, or our friends. We fail to realize how fragile life is or how quickly it can be destroyed. In a second, your life and world can come crumbling down.

In dealing with veterans and their families, we have been amazed at the amount of requests made for assistance and care. Age isn’t even a factor. Young men and women join the military to serve their community, state and nation, and some return home suffering the physical and mental wounds from their service.

The state and vederal VA systems have become an unbelievable resource for an array of services; they also have become overburdened with the needs of veterans, especially as they age. Dealing with veterans and their families is not an easy task, for not every veteran is qualified to obtain the same treatment, services or care. There are some veterans that refuse help until it is needed later in life, and then the assistance is not always readily available to them.

Veterans have failed themselves for years by waiting to go to the VA to seek help; they lost out on medical care and disability for their injuries or illnesses. At the time they were discharged, their main concern was getting on with their lives, getting married, and having a family. That was the especially the case for World War II and Vietnam veterans.

These veterans were living with the walking wounds of war and their military services. There were a great number of veterans that refused to go to the VA, as a result of stigmas or the lack of care back when they were discharged.

The VA has since improved greatly over the last 20-plus years with unbelievable care and concern from the doctors, nurses and staff.

If you are a combat veteran, you can bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center (or mail it to 25 Elm St., Suite A, Rocky Hill, CT 06067). You can speak with a counselor or therapist—many of whom are veterans themselves. This is a free service, without a need for an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with the VA. You can even call them at (860) 563-8800.

In addition, any veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.

Educating veterans and their families on their rights, along with the benefits and services that are out there, is our main purpose. The Town of Southington has a number of coalition partners and resources available, and the Southington Veterans Committee can help put you in touch with them.

Every month, Liz Chubet of the Southington Public Library partners with us at the Southington Veterans Committee to sponsor a coffee hour for local veterans. Our next coffee hour will be Wednesday, March 20, at 10 a.m., in the basement conference room of the library.

Remember, life is not always fair; neither is waking up every day without meaning or hope. Join us at a coffee hour, and let‘s talk. You will be amazed at how many veterans have similar issues. Some may have solutions that might help you, or you might be able to help them.

John DeMello is a member of the Southington Veterans Committee. The committee can be reached at Town Hall, 75 Main St., by phone at (860) 276-6299, or by email at

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