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Heroes and Patriots

By Army Spc. Heidi Kroll

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Medal of Honor Recipients Encourage Guardsmen to Get Help
(June 28, 2010)

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ARLINGTON, Va., – Two Medal of Honor recipients were here at the Army National Guard Readiness Center, June 25, to discuss how to reduce the stigmatism of Soldiers seeking help after returning home from deployment.

Retired Marine Corps Col. Jay Vargas and retired Army Staff Sgt. Drew Dix met with members of the Soldier and Family Support Services office. They are trying to open new doors so that Soldiers have more options when it comes to dealing with stress after deployment.

“We need to take care of the Guard equal to active duty,” said Dix, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions as a Special Forces adviser in Vietnam.

“I know firsthand the challenges of war,” he said. “Your experiences in combat are so powerful that very few will or can understand what you went through.”

Twenty-eight Medal of Honor recipients recently launched the “Medal of Honor – Speak Out” campaign to encourage troops struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other health problems to take advantage of services to help them.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipients dating back to World War II echo a common theme in video messages for today's returning combat veterans: take advantage of the resources now available to treat the unseen scars of war.

“Make use of them [resources],” the messages say. “Stay strong, and don't let the enemy defeat you at home.”

The Medal of Honor recipients, many who have endured harrowing wartime experiences, acknowledge in individual videos the emotional challenges many returning combat veterans experience. They can be seen at www.medalofhonorspeakout.org.

“I started mine saying that I was just like you, and followed it with thanking them for their service,” said Vargas. “I finished it with ‘remember your warrior ethos, refuse to accept defeat, do not let your enemy defeat you at home.'”

The Medal of Honor recipients expressed pride in today's service members who are following in their footsteps.

“When these Soldiers get home we need to get the neighbors to stick out their hands and say, “Welcome back!'” said Dix.
By Army Spc. Heidi Kroll
National Guard Bureau
Copyright 2010

Donna Miles of American Forces Press Service contributed to this report.

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