Jersey veteran’s message: Tell leaders to quit jerking us around
LONG BRANCH — A Vietnam veteran has been walking the town's boardwalk, asking people to watch a YouTube video that he produced about veterans' suicide.
Howard Kuker calls the video "22 A Day No Way" about the daily veterans suicide toll in America. He exhorts people to "get a hold of their congressman and president with a phone call, a letter, an e-mail, and tell them to quit jerking around and start helping us out."
"I read an article a few years ago about a female veteran who had committed suicide, and I read about the 22 veterans committing suicides daily, and I decided at that moment that I was going to start writing a script and put it on YouTube," he said. "It took me three months, but I put it together."
Kuker said he has five World War II vets in the video, and veterans of multiple races: "I try to represent everybody, and my goal is to slow down veteran suicide."
Kuker says he is continuously frustrated by the lack of resources and help for veterans, especially those struggling with post traumatic stress disorder.
"They tell you that 60 percent of the veterans are happy with the VA (Veterans Administration). That is a flat out lie. I would say at best, 25 percent," he said. "I mean, ask me — I am a vet who is in the health system. They do not want to spend the money on us."
He said it's not enough for people to recognize veterans' problems or what he said was the government's lack of response.
"Awareness is fine, but awareness without action is nothing," he said. "We need to hire approximately 20,000 psychologists. Do it. I say draft them if they do not volunteer. People say, 'you cannot draft them.' They drafted me. I am trying to slow down veteran suicide. I am a one-man show."
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.
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