tv Beyond the Headlines ABC January 1, 2017 4:30pm-5:01pm PST
>> now, from abc7, "beyond the headlines," with cheryl jennings. >> welcome to "beyond the headlines." today we're talking about veterans in the bay area and local organizations that help veterans transitioning out of the service. according to the u.s. department of veterans affairs, 1.8 million veterans currently live in the state of california, ranking at number one in the nation. our veterans face a lot of challenges. housing, jobs, and medical care are just a few. since the year 2000, more than 2.8 million of the nation's 18.9 million veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or ptsd. and that's about 16% of the nation's veteran population. in 2014, about 9.1 million vets were enrolled in va-provided healthcare. the bay area is home to more than 300,000 veterans. in petaluma, on veterans day, it
seems as though everybody in town celebrates. abc7 news reporter wayne freedman shows us petaluma's beloved tradition. >> in petaluma today, a refreshingly old-school definition of taking to the streets and, for that matter, respecting your elders. >> 91 next month. >> 91. >> i'm 93. >> i'll be 94 in january. >> i am 100 years old. >> they're the guests of honor today in a community that turned out with tears in their eyes. >> because they sacrifice so much to have us have our freedom, and they're just never recognized enough. >> yes, it's veterans day once again in petaluma, where, 38 miles north of san francisco, 42 miles north of oakland, and after a week of angst about this nation's future, petaluma honored those who served their country in the past. fred bollinger says it may have been a better world then. but you didn't have the internet. >> well, i hope not. [ laughs ] you got that right. [ laughs ] i used to stand up on the hill and yodel.
>> this year, the parade has grown to 200 different entries, 1,700 people riding, walking, marching, being cheered through the streets of petaluma. >> yeah, when you're a young punk of 18... didn't know any better. >> among them, larry petretti, sonoma county's last living pearl harbor survivor. his nephews greg and gary love and honor him as they would their own now-passed father. larry doesn't talk much about the war, they told us. >> no, 'cause he has too many bad memories. >> it's fresh in his mind... even though he's 93. >> so, today, here's a new, fresh memory, larry petretti -- all these people taking the time, ever so grateful to make you feel special. in petaluma -- wayne freedman, abc7 news. >> joining us in the studio today is joe delaurentis from daly city, and joe served in the united states navy from 2006 to 2010. now he's a student at the university of san francisco, and
he also interns here at abc7, and joe helped produce this show today. and we're so proud of you. >> thank you for having me. >> thank you for your service. >> of course. >> all right, i know transitioning is hard. my dad was in the military. it was really tough for him as a lifer in the army. for you, as a young man, let me start with the work you did. we'll see how that translates to the work you want to do. so, what did you do in the navy? >> sure. the first job that i had was a traditional navy job. i was ship steering and maneuvering and then a little bit of anchor handling, which is a lot more dangerous than it sounds. >> it sounds dangerous. >> [ chuckles ] it does. after some time, i was able to be a part of the search-and-seizure team for my ship -- drug enforcement, if you will -- while being deployed. >> and then you served overseas, as well, right, went to iraq a couple of times? >> yes. >> all right, so you've done some pretty heavy-duty work there. >> well, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," but, indeed, we had some heavy work -- including the anchor. >> yeah, good little joke there. all right, so, after you got out, you didn't want to stay,
because you wanted to have a different kind of life, right? so what were the first steps you took to transition from military life to civilian life? >> well, first, when i finished my contract, i knew that i wanted to pursue my goals in higher education and to complete my degree. and i always wanted to be a first-generation college graduate in my family. >> nice. >> and then, after some time, i started with the junior college, and then i worked my way over to san francisco and the bay area, where i attend the university of san francisco, where i'm attaining my international business degree. >> and you are using the gi bill to help you with that, right? >> sure. >> how important is that for you? >> it was very important. in every step of the way, the va was there, able to assist me in all of the things that i needed -- with school supplies, with tuition assistance, as well as a monthly stipend to take care of all the financial needs that i needed. >> do you think that more young people like yourself should take advantage of that gi bill? >> indeed. if the military is the route they wish to engage in after they get out of high school or after they've spent some time in
the civilian world, i definitely encourage anyone who thinks they should volunteer for the military to definitely take that step. it's very important, and our nation definitely takes care of our veterans afterwards. >> the hardships you faced -- we have about a minute left. hardships you faced and how you're dealing with that? >> some of the hardships i faced during my schooltime for injuries that i sustained during my time in the service -- had a little bit of trouble with focusing in some classes. but with a lot of pressure and a lot of guidance from teachers that were also veterans, i was able to realize my potential and succeed in finishing my degree and passing all my classes, especially. >> so a little bit of pressure from your teachers who understood your background. >> yes. >> so why did that make such a difference? >> again, the professors that were also veterans, they were able to give me the advice and to put it in perspective, to tell me that i've done harder things than just a few essays and this is the things that i should focus on more or less. it's the people that didn't get the chance is what drove me the
most and till this day drives me. >> and that's why you want to do this show. all right, joe, thank you so much -- thank you for your service, thank you for producing this show. very important information we're gonna share with people all throughout the show today. so, we do have to take a quick break. when we come back, we're gonna learn about post-traumatic stress disorder and how it affects our nation's veterans. stay with us. we'll be right back. choose. choose. choose. but at bedtime... ...why settle for this? enter sleep number and the lowest prices of the season. sleepiq technology tells you how well
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>> welcome back to "beyond the headlines." we've been talking about military veterans in our communities and the challenges they face after service. the horror of combat is something many veterans live with, but a study at ucla is underway to see whether administering mild electrical currents into the brain can reset the networks for those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. abc7 new anchor eric thomas has this report. >> may 3, 2006. army sergeant ron ramirez was on night patrol in iraq when a roadside bomb blew up under his truck. >> i just saw the bright light, and, all of a sudden, i couldn't see, i couldn't hear. >> the machine gunner suffered a traumatic brain injury and a
perforated eardrum. while his body is healed, invisible wounds continue to haunt him. ron's violent outbursts scared his two daughters and everyone he was close to. >> i would yell, i'd throw things. i just... i didn't know. i couldn't see myself. >> then, he heard about a new research study from veterans with ptsd. researchers at ucla's semel institute for neuroscience were studying how stimulating a nerve on the side of the face called the trigeminal nerve may reset brain waves. ron places an electrode on his forehead and sleeps with the device. dr. andrew leuchter says that tms therapy has been used to treat epilepsy and depression but it holds great promise for treating chronic ptsd. >> when people go through a traumatic event, the brain in some ways can get rewired. what we're doing with tms is we're sending in electrical signals that can help reset the function of brain networks and help people get over the symptoms of their illness.
>> doctors say many people don't realize the language of the brain is electricity, and it doesn't take a lot. these devices use current kind of like the current in this 9-volt battery. >> very safe, very effective. very few side effects. >> dr. leuchter is working with the va to recruit more veterans who've served since 9/11. ron says he's seen a huge difference after using the tms therapy for two months. >> it gave me more confidence. it gave me a sense of...happiness. >> eric thomas, abc7 news. >> that story was filed by eric thomas in december of 2015, but the study is continuing, and they are still looking for participants. now, onscreen is a website for more information, and we're going to post these details on our website, as well. in the studio with me right now is keith armstrong. he is the clinical professor of psychiatry at the university of california, san francisco, and keith also serves as the director of the family therapy program at the san francisco veterans administration.
and keith co-authored the book "courage after fire." so, keith, tell me why you wrote it and why there's a need for this. >> sure. you know, i'd been working with veterans of all wars -- world war ii, korea, vietnam -- and then 9/11 happened, and, after a few years, we felt that we wanted to make sure that something was out there, a self-help book that would be really accessible to veterans coming back from iraq or afghanistan and their families. and we really wanted to do it differently than we felt like it had been done for our vietnam veteran cohort that, you know, suffered many times in silence. >> and i know that my dad served in a couple of conflicts, and so he never talked about anything. >> that's right. >> so, therapy can help some of the complications. we saw an example of that. what are some of the other ways that the va can help with therapy? >> well, i think that there are a number of therapies out there that have some evidence that
support their use in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include intrusive symptoms, avoidance symptoms, and arousal symptoms, as well as some negative cognitions. and a lot of times, the powerful avoidance symptoms that veterans experience keep them from actually being able to process their traumatic experience because they don't want to think about it. and so they try to push it down, and by pushing it down, in fact, it kind of does the opposite. it actually allows those symptoms to kind of hang on to them even more so. so there are therapies that we have that directly go after those experiences through the retelling of the story of the traumatic event. and by doing that, it actually desensitizes veterans to their experience, which then allows them to live a fuller life. it's not easy, and it's not a panacea, you know?
there really isn't a treatment that makes everything go away and be better. but it's certainly helpful. and so we have individual therapy that does that, we have group therapy, and we have family therapy, and the other -- >> the family ther-- i want to talk about 'cause that is so important. you think just the veteran, but everybody's affected by this. >> everybody suffers, and, you know, the va, for a very long time, really didn't step up to the plate and take care of the families like they're doing now. and so i think that, you know, you really need to know what it's like to actually be able to support somebody who's suffering from the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and the best way to do that is actually to bring in the family. and even on a simple level, you educate them around what the symptoms look like and how best to support the veteran. and then that really can lead to a healthier family functioning. >> well, i know you've been doing this for more than 30
years, and i thank you so much for your work. thank you for your book, and thank you for being here today. >> and thank you for letting us be here. >> absolutely. all right, we do have to take a break. when we come back, we're gonna talk about the impact of homelessness on bay area veterans, so stay with us. we'll be back in just a moment.
♪ by the dawn's... >> the south bay started its veterans day celebration early in the morning in milpitas, as they do every november. and in san jose, the special day became an early thanksgiving for more than 500 veterans. abc7 news reporter david louie filed this story on veterans day, introducing us to one very grateful vet. >> on july 23rd, i was homeless. today i'm housed. >> nothing more symbolic than veterans day to see nicolas jaramillo, a 12-year army vet, holding keys to a unit at this apartment building he'll move in next week. >> but this is just the beginning because now the real journey begins -- staying focused, going to school, continue working. >> jaramillo is the 510th homeless vet in santa clara county to get housing one year after san jose and the county launched a program called all the way home. some of the landlords renting to vets are vets themselves. >> i am doing this because i am my brother's keeper, and i'm a member of the armed forces, and i think it's something i had the opportunity, and i've been
blessed, so why not share that blessing? >> this is the studio apartment watts has rented to a vet. while the number 510 is an impressive figure, you have to put things in perspective. there are still more than 6,000 people who are homeless who are not veterans living in santa clara county. mayor sam liccardo believes the success of housing vets will lead to a wider program. while 510 out of 700 vets have been placed, the vets' challenge isn't over. >> every month, there are more veterans who are being pushed out on the street because of high housing costs. and so this is going to be an effort that we're gonna have to continue to pursue. >> even the president of the board of supervisors has rented out a room to a vet. >> well, it's not entirely magnanimous. you rent to a veteran, you get rent. that room would've been sitting empty, and i think there are so many people that have four- or five-bedroom houses here in the suburbs, in san jose, and silicon valley that could easily rent one of their rooms to a veteran. >> in san jose -- david louie, abc7 news. >> and joining me now is leon winston. he is the chief operating officer and housing director of
swords to plowshares, a nonprofit organization that provides needed services and resources for veterans and their families. and i want to thank you for being here. i know you served, as well, so thank you for your service. >> oh, glad to be here. thank you. >> your program is amazing. it's been around for a long time, swords to plowshares, so how did it get started? >> it was started in 1974 by some vietnam veterans and vista volunteers to attempt to meet the needs of vietnam veterans that weren't -- who weren't being received so well by society or by the va, frankly, at that point in time. >> and what have you seen in terms of transition? and it's getting better or... >> oh, well, yeah, it's gotten much better. it's gotten much better, especially since 9/11. the acceptance and the welcoming home of veterans has -- i don't think we've seen that since world war ii. >> it's a lot different than vietnam, too. >> yes. >> for sure. so, when you started, you had to basically take this organization from nothing and then create -- now you have an amazing housing program. >> we have a housing program. we house close to 500 veterans in supportive housing every
night. about two thirds of that is permanent housing. the rest is transitional. we also help veterans find housing. we help with eviction prevention. we help veterans access their benefits with free attorney services. and we have a pretty robust employment-training program, as well. >> i think most people, when they hear of swords to plowshares, think of counseling and group therapy and that s-- but that happens, as well. >> yes, in our transitional housing sites, there's some group therapy that happens. there's some treatment components to that. but we do have a drop-in case-management assessment-referral program in san francisco, and we also have an office in oakland. >> can anybody who's a veteran just come in off the street or call you? or how do people reach you? >> yeah, absolutely. they can come in at 1060 howard street in san francisco. i don't remember the address in oakland offhand. >> that's all right. >> sorry. we're open monday through friday 9:00 to 5:00 -- any veteran, any year of service, any length of service. all veterans are welcome.
>> i think one of the things that stops people is, first, they may not know about the service or that it's so extensive, and then how to get there and then, "is it gonna be a whole bunch of paperwork? and what do i need?" so what do they need when they show up? >> well, they just need to come in. it's good if they have id. if they don't, we'll help them get it. a lot of the vets we serve are homeless, so they often don't have their proper identification. there's a form that verifies their military service called a "dd 214." we can help them get that in an expedited fashion from the department of defense. and we just go from there. >> i know that you work with all your -- kind of in charge of all this, but you come from a place of authenticity because you were out there. you were one of those guys. >> yes, i was. i was homeless mostly in los angeles, and i came back to my native san francisco. i needed quite a bit of help. i went to the va hospital, and, eventually, a social worker there referred me to swords to plowshares in early 1993.
>> and the rest is history. now you're the c.o.o. >> correct. >> well, you should be very proud of yourself. thank you for helping our veterans. appreciate that. all right, and we have to take another short break, but when we come back, we're going to learn more about local resources for bay area veterans, including help with higher education. so stay with us. we'll be right back. here's your receipt. have a nice day! thank you. start the car! start the car! start the car! start the car! the ikea winter sale. wooooooo! get up to 50% off select items. now through january 10th. ikea
...why settle for this? enter sleep number and the lowest prices of the season. sleepiq technology tells you how well you slept and what adjustments you can make. she likes the bed soft. he's more hardcore. so your sleep goes from good to great to wow! only at a sleep number store, right now, save $600 on our best selling i8 mattress, plus 24 month special financing. learn more at sleepnumber.com know better sleep with sleep number. >> welcome back to "beyond the headlines." we're continuing our discussion on veterans and the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life. here with me in the studio right now is brandina jersky. she is a licensed marriage and family therapist with the va medical center and works with the student veterans health program at various college campuses in the bay area, including city college of san francisco. thank you for being here today. >> thank you for having me. >> you do so much work with the students. so what is the program involving students? how does that work? >> so, the student veteran health program is a program
within the san francisco va healthcare system. and our goal is to partner with local colleges and universities where veterans are attending school to provide a number of resources and programs on campus where we can. so we do va education, va outreach and enrollment. we also provide some social-work services, and, in some situations or some campuses, we also provide mental-health services, as well. and then we do try and help with faculty and staff education if that would be useful and also work with a number of student-veteran leaders from various campuses in the bay area to help them network and mentor each other and kind of bring the student-veterans together across the community. >> so that education is really important, and joe delaurentis, in our first segment, was talking about how he had professors who actually understood him as a vet. >> right. exactly. and, you know, some schools do a lot of their own kind of faculty and staff training in this area already if they have a number of staff that are interested in that or have some experience in that. but we do also bring in
programs, as well, to help out there. >> are there specific programs that veterans should look for when they're enrolling in school? >> so, veterans usually need to go online and determine whether or not they are eligible, for example, for the gi bill if they want to use that to go to school. and then there are a number of schools in the local area, especially, that have their own programs on campus for student-veterans -- you know, anything from disability services for classroom accommodations to veterans resource centers on campus, to student veteran of america chapters, as well. so i would really encourage student-veterans anywhere in the bay area to connect to their peers and staff on campus to find out what might be available to them. >> it sounds so much better than it used to be years ago. there are so many more resources. and the program at city college has been there just actually for, what, six years now? >> yep, yep. right. so, the program at city college for the student-veteran health started in 2010, and, since then, has evolved to really try and reach student-veterans outside of city college, as
well. veterans graduate from city, they transfer, they go to a number of other institutions in the bay area, and then the san francisco va also extends really all the way up to eureka and the oregon border. and so there are student-veterans kind of all the way up in the san francisco va's catchment area that we try and support. >> are there a variety of services that can complement all of the work you're doing? >> yeah, you know, connecting to your va benefits as soon as possible can be a really helpful resource. it's important to remember that you don't have to be injured in the military or retired from the military to qualify for va healthcare services. and regardless of when you discharged, whether it was a year ago or 5 years ago or 50 years ago, if you meet the basic eligibility requirements, you can still enroll in va healthcare and receive those services. >> is there one easy way for anybody who's watching this show, who's a veteran, to connect with you or programs like the one you're working with? >> yeah, i would highly encourage veterans to connect with their local va healthcare
facilities, especially if they're interested in information about healthcare benefits. the county veterans service offices are also a really great resource for connecting with state, local, and other federal benefits, as well. >> okay, and we have a phone number that we want to let people know about, as well, right? >> yes, there's the myva-311 resource, which i think is kind of a phone number for everybody to contact to find out where their local vas are and other programs in their area. >> okay, it's that easy. brandina, thank you, and thank you for the work you're doing, as well. >> thank you so much. >> all right. and for more information about the guests and the resources shared on today's program, just go to our website, abc7news.com/community. we're also on facebook at abc7communityaffairs, as well as cheryljenningsabc7. and you can follow me on twitter @cherylabc7. thank you so much for joining us. have a great week. we'll see you next time. ♪
. >> live where you live this is abc 7 news. the 49ers faithful seem to be a dying breed with the losing season just ending. there's already one confirmed change at the top. good evening, everyone. i'm carolyn tyler in for eric thomas. we begin with a look at the far-reaching impact of a disappointing season for the 49ers. just about a half hour ago the 9ers ended their season with a loss against sielgts e seattle at one of the worst records in the league. now ther