Veterans use Memorial Day to denounce deploying of traumatized troops

May 31, 2011

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Some Chicago-area veterans spent Memorial Day calling attention to the mental health problems of U.S. troops. Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered in front of the Vietnam War Memorial by the Chicago River.

These veterans say the military needs to stop redeploying traumatized troops to serve in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Derek Giffen said he spent a year in Iraq serving in the Army. Giffen, of Oak Park, said he now receives disability for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I’m struggling mostly with events that occurred over there. I re-experience them on a daily basis. I’ve already lost a marriage to my inability to kind of cope with what I experienced," Giffen.

He helps other veterans file claims. But Giffen says Veterans Affairs is backlogged and needs more staff to deal with stressed-out troops.

Recent reports reveal mental health disorders had caused a record number of hospitalizations in the military.