I Am PROUD to Have Known You  

From Dan Nevins
Friend & Brother in Arms

My Brother,
we didn't talk much while serving together, but when we
did, there was always substance and the more I got to
know who you were at your core the more I respected
I would have loved to have you in my squad as I am sure
every squad leader would have.  You always went above
and beyond and that is a testimony to what a great person
you were. I want to  tell you that I feel that your sacrifice,
though tragic and untimely, was not in vain and history
will tell the tale much differently than it is in the present.  
So, as you look down on the rest of us, I hope that you will
understand that.  At least that is the way I feel.
You left too early to know, but on 10 Nov 2004, when
another of our brothers (SFC Mike Ottolini) paid the
ultimate sacrifice, I was severely injured in the same
explosion.  I lost my left leg in the explosion and after 27
surgeries, after being evacuated to Walter Reed they were
able to save my right leg.  Now, three years later, I am back
at Walter Reed having the right leg amputated.  It was just
too much pain to deal with daily and the recurring bone
infections were "show stoppers".  Now that I have had the
surgery on the 23rd of January 08, I feel much  better, and
Hopefully I will be walking again soon.

I know that we have made our sacrifices for a just and
good reason, and I am PROUD to have known you and
served with you.  I will ALWAYS remember you, as well as
Andre and Mike, in addition to all of those who made it
home on their own power, but have their continuing
battles that go unseen.

Again, Thank You for being the man who you were.  I am
honored to have served in the same unit with you, in the
same Army, and for the Greatest Nation in the World, and
Proud to have fought with you as a brother in arms for a
cause that history will view as necessary and just.  God
Bless you and yours.

Your Brother,

SSG (R) Dan Nevins

I miss him  

From Christopher Ulen
A Friend & A Soldier

I think about him everyday and as much as I try
to get that day out of my head I can't.
I did everything in my power to keep him alive
but I couldn't.
I miss him.

Christopher Ulen
From Chrissy Loya

"To Patrick's mother,
it has taken me so long to find the words to say how
sorry I am about him. I met u briefly one day on
Roosevelt when Pat had is as he called it his (muscle
So funny & so into making sure everyone else was
OK, a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with, he
was one that brightened my day.
All the advice he had given me about do's & don'ts
will not be forgotten. Our friendship was for a very
long time even though we went to different schools.
Him at Homestead and me at Fremont.
The smile on his face, u got to love it.
I have so much to say, but it hurts so much to know
my friend is gone but not far away & to meet him in
heaven,I can not wait for that day. So my
condolences go out to his wife & kids,& from the
pictures that I have seen are so beautiful & to u of
course his dear mother that he talked so often of.
I will remember the smile he has & the one star that
shines so bright knowing he is looking down on all
he knows & loves so much.
"God Bless You All""

Chrissy Loya
of Sunnyvale, Ca

Dear Mrs. Mc Caffrey,

We are just regular people whose lives were touched
by Patrick.

Sometime in 2003 or 2004, my car was rear ended and
Farmers Insurance brought the car to Akins in Palo
Alto. That's where I met Patrick who gave me the best
excellent service. I didn't ask for anything to get that
special treatment. I guess it was just normal to him to
provide excellent service.
Before our car was to be released, he said he will turn
over it to his assistant whose name I forgot now. He
said he will be deployed to Iraq, my wife didn't know if
she would hug him or wish him luck because we were
at a loss for words. We wished him our prayers and
luck.  When I got my car, he already left. We can still
remember his voice on his voicemail.
Today, Tuesday (Oct. 16)  3 years later, we have to go
to Akins because my sister's car had an accident. I
checked on the counter hoping to see Patrick and I felt
nervous not seeing him. Instead a new manager
named George met us. Our heart  sank when we
learned about the bad news. Me and my wife had a bad
day today. We were thinking about Patrick the whole
We were just regular people who just met Patrick
casually in the course of his work as the GM of Akins.
What more with you, his mother and.... Silvia. We can
feel your pain.
Our heart goes to you Mrs. McCaffrey. We will always
pray for Patrick. We'd like to know where he is resting
so we can offer our prayers.

Our thoughts love and prayers are with you.

Leo & Juliet C.

Dear Mrs. McCaffrey,

Every year, Memorial Day has just been a mall discount
and shopping day for us.

Today, that has changed. Today, it has a special
meaning for us. Every Memorial Day, we will light a
candle in memory of Patrick, whose casual
changed our lives.

We hope to meet you soon. We are always praying for
you and Patrick's Family.


Leo & Juliet
Palo Alto, Ca

Dear Friends,
I fell a part reading your mail this morning...
Many lives have changed since and because of
Patrick's death.
I will never be the same again, neither are his 2 children
or his Dad..  
Patrick has done so many wonderful things his whole
life and from the other side as well.
Some of the hundred's of articles that were published
around Patrick's death,
Patrick'story has become well-known, post mortem. As
a gentle caring Spirit, Patrick live on, he was so loved
and still is.
Thank you for sharing your experience with me.
Stay in touch, I would like to meet you sometimes...
I live in Patrick's house in Tracy.

In Peaceful Service.
Nadia McCaffrey Gold Star Mother of Sgt Patrick




May 11 2008
By Nadia McCaffrey

Mother’s Day?
What is the meaning of these two words?

The fact is that there is no one left to call me Mother anymore!
I need to gather myself in order to remain psychologically sound.
As every year, for four years, this year is unlike the last, as time
goes, the harder, the more excruciating the pain has become. I miss
Patrick’s voice telling me:
I love you Mom...just calling out of the blue for no reason, that was
typical of Patrick .
I have the regret to say that I had not fully grasped the deep
meaning of his spontaneous actions, I always have loved him so
very much, just seeing him for a short few minutes made my day
worth while.
Patrick was born 38 years ago (May 26 1970) at Stanford University
Hospital, weighing just over five pounds at 1:30 pm his birth took an
hour, what an amazing day that was, Bob and I just became parents
of a child that one day would become a legend in his own way and a
role model for many.

What have I accomplished since Patrick’s death?
I feel as I am drowning in the middle of an ocean without shores. I
cannot think of myself, my thoughts are not here.
Someone said to me once: “Nadia everything that you do is about
Patrick or because of Patrick”
I never had thought of it this way, but it probably has some truth!

Memories…My Darling son has not faded in any way from my vision,
my memory, and my emotions. Last week, walking by the wheat
crackers section of the supermarket, I suddenly burst into tears,
seeing in my minds eye the very last package that we had sent to
Camp Anaconda, Patrick never received it... he was killed instead
and the package came back to us un-opened from Iraq, never got
his “Altama” desert boots either.
The boots forever empty will never be worn and are now on display
near his medals and photographs.
On his daily phone call, I remember his words with a heaviness of
despair in his voice, asking me if we had sent the package yet. He
needed his boots, the old pair was holding with duct tape.

I remember three days after Patrick’s death, his house in Tracy, was
packed with flowers and people, we happened to be watching a
series of digital photographs that the soldiers had send us from Iraq,
on the computer with Jeanne (who had babysat for him in
Sunnyvale) others were standing behind my chair, suddenly we
stared at one-another with tears rolling down our cheeks while we all
became speechless the room stood in a perfect still, an heavenly
sent of roses filled the room so powerfully, after a moment Silvia
shouted: Mom…it’s Patrick, he his here with us now…
I remember the day of Patrick’s Memorial at Fry’s Chapel, hundred’s
of people came, and many stood outside the chapel. Patrick Junior
and Janessa Marie were playing in the chapel and laughing, I finally
got a hold of Junior who was nine years old at the time, and talk to
him gently explaining and at the same time asking if he understood
that it was his father inside the flag draped coffin standing before us
and that was not respectful to run inside the place. Junior looked at
me and said:
yea grandma but, when is my Daddy coming home?
My jaw dropped, and I understood at this instant that we were
heading for a long haul of sad emptiness in our lives…

It was hot, after briefly talking to the large number of media; we
headed back to the house, while Patrick’s body left for his last Home
in Oceanside. We had to get ready to proceed in driving ourselves
to meet at the cemetery for a very last ceremony. I was in the TV
room; Janessa was playing with Lucky in the backyard. Janessa
came in the house shouting: Grandma, she had a strong hold of my
hand and pull me outside with her, pointing at the lemon tree, she
said: you see daddy is here, he loves Janessa, grandma can he stay
with us now?
She had this marvelous spark in her eyes and smile that she only
had in Patrick’s presence. I was choking and sobbing, in tears that
wouldn’t stop, of course only Janessa saw her Daddy, I felt Patrick’s
powerful and loving self…

There isn't a moment in a day where his presence is not at my side;
Patrick is my strength, my motivation, my only reason of still existing.
With his love I made up a fabric of idealistic dreams dictated by his
very own.
The main question is:
Is it happening? Is the Dream Happening?
If it is, then why does it seem never to end, the dream, I mean.

The Centers, I can see them, touch them, walk in them; I know that
the materialization is near completion, the interest in the efficiency
and purpose of the vision itself has become national and even
Do I have the power to close the chapter of this project before life
exits my body? I am not so sure anymore.
I know that I am at cross-roads where the choice is made available to
me. The temptation of letting go is strong, not waking up seems easy
enough; my health is degrading on daily basis.
The challenge has become a black wall where I cannot see the top
nor the end, I am becoming exhausted, it is hard to breath, it is
painful inhaling each breath this body is telling me to hurry up and
finish what I have started, I feel like I am literally falling apart and I
am not sure that I can reverse the process I need a miracle to stay
alive enough time to finish my mission... we will see!
Holding on to life by a thread, I need to keep my vision undisturbed
until completion.
On the other end I want to fulfill Patrick’s wishes and be the grandma
that he wanted me to be.
Yes, but what am I going to do about it?

I feel very proud of my grand children, Junior has come a long way
since Patrick's death, every day he acts and looks more like his dad
and he is becoming quiet an athlete and a gentleman as well as a
peace maker. Once in a while he and I have a serious talk. Patrick
would be so proud of him now, and I make a point to tell him that, I
also remind Junior that he can do whatever he choose to do in life
and stay with it, never quit. Those are some of Patrick last words to
Junior. I truly enjoy his company and conversation, he shows a very
healthy curiosity of a bright mind.
His Heart is in a very good place, I love him very much.

My little Janessa is still struggling hard, she needs her dad so badly,
they were so close to each other.
I remember, when Patrick came home from boot camp, the family
came to welcome him in Santa Rosa airport, the soldiers lined up by
the airplane and started to walk in our direction there was quiet a
distance and before any one of us could see Patrick, Janessa
started to climb the wire fence and screaming Daddy Daddy my
Daddy, Silvia and I had a bad time holding on to her, she was 2
years old... She eventually run off into the field toward the long line
of National guardsmen and women, straight to her Dad, Patrick did
the same thing, run off from the orderly walk to pick up Janessa in
his strong arms both laughing to tears and holding on tight to each
other…it was quiet a site!

And then there is the LION KING.
Patrick and Janessa both were sitting in the master bedroom
watching the Lion King, Janessa would watch the Disney feature 5
times (average) daily.
This took place the night before Patrick left for deployment to Iraq.
I was listening to their voices thinking sadly that this family joy was
coming to an end.
At the part where the Lion King is killed in “an ambush” betrayed by
his brother, Janessa grabbed on to her father so hard and made a
knot of her little fingers around Patrick’s neck almost crying telling
“Daddy that’s you, Daddy that’s you…”
Patrick run to me in the kitchen where Silvia and I were cooking
dinner for all of us, and his face was flushed: Mom, do you know
what Janessa just told me?
I am not coming back am I Mom?
Of course I said, she is just a baby sweet heart, she doesn’t
know…but, did Janessa have the knowledge of her Daddy‘s faith?
After that day Patrick had left his home never to walk trough the
door again, it became a tradition for Janessa and I to watch the Lion
King on daily basis and every time the film reached the death of the
Lion she curled up close to me and keep saying to me” Grandma
that’s my Daddy…

Her will is strong and her heart is golden, she truly is a gift.
In some ways I am afraid for her she is such a rebel just like I, it
make me feel helpless, I know who she is.
Janessa is making so much progress in school now, thank goodness
for a great tutor.

Last holiday  was the closest of a Christmas we have had since 2004.
We trooped together at Bob’s house in Bella Vista with Janessa
Marie, Patrick Junior, Silvia and I.  It was a delight to watch Patrick’s
re-discovering each other after a much too long separation and
Lucky (Patrick’s dog) was very joyful to see all of us.

The last evening we had in Tracy as a family, Patrick opened up, he
and I talked on the bench, the silence was heavy and meaningful
between words.

Later that evening he asked me to get the Medicine Cards and he
picked one of the them, it was the RAVEN, laughing he pointed at his
shoulder patch : Mom I am a Raven! (Patrick was attached to the 81
Brigade from Washington “The Ravens” his Unit the 579 from
Petaluma was small, 90 soldiers)
The card had this words to share “Open yourself to Miracles Use
new eyes, Believe in Magic Embrace life’s Wonders”
Watching the crows and ravens flying around us, Patrick would
laugh and say: If I don’t make it back, I will be here watching over all
of you, I will be. Patrick was shot with the cards on his chest.

Nadia McCaffrey Gold Star Mother of
Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr
From: Military Chaplain Kathie Costos <Namguardianangel@aol.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2008 14:01:11 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Wounded Times] Veteran's Village of healing

“Here's a link to a film my brother David and I made recently for VeteransVillage.
org, a charity founded by Nadia McCaffrey, mother of fallen American soldier
Patrick McCaffrey.”

“Roughly 40% of American soldiers are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with
PTSD. Veteran's Village is a healing oasis to help vets reintegrate into society.”


If you look over on the side bar, you'll see this video up for about a week or so.
It's hard to believe this much time has come and gone since I was first made aware of

One Mother's War
Robert Durell / LAT
Nadia McCaffrey, who now operates a nonprofit grief counseling program and has
become a leader in the Northern California antiwar movement, has been a lifelong
pacifist and opposed her son's enlistment from the beginning.
By Jeff Nachtigal, Special to the Times
January 30, 2005
TRACY, Calif. -- On the day her son Patrick McCaffrey died on a blacktop farm road in
northern Iraq, Nadia McCaffrey's war began.

Her first act was to invite the press to the Sacramento Airport when her 34-year-old
son's flag draped-coffin was brought home at the end of June 2004.

Since then my admiration for her has only grown deeper. While she gets attention for
the Veteran's Village, what her life's mission is, is something she does very quietly. She
is changing lives. You won't hear her tell you of this one or that one who had their lives
transformed because she thought waving a flag and slapping a yellow magnet to the
back of a car was just not enough to support the veterans enough and did something
about it, but you will hear it in her voice how much she really cares about all of them.
You can hear it in this video. A remarkable woman indeed~

Nadia has been helping a friend of mine I care deeply for. No one will know his story or
how much she has helped him. No one will know most of the stories of the lives placed
into Nadia's loving hands or how they have gone from seeing lives and things destroyed
to feeling love's healing grace and watching things grow on organic farms. They will not
know how many have cried on her shoulder or thrived on a hug from this woman who
has adopted all of them as if they were her own children. What no one will hear is
precisely the reason she does it. No one would have been there to help them the way
she has. Her reward is beyond a price tag. You cannot put a price on a life that may
have ended had Nadia not been there doing this work.

While her work is priceless to those she helps, it is very expensive to operate. Veteran's
Village needs donations. She needs you to support her so she can support them. If
you've finally come to the point in your life where you are aware that waving a flag
seems insignificant and a yellow ribbon on an SUV seems really stupid, donate to the
work Nadia is doing to really welcome them home and to a home where they can feel as
if they are a part of this beautiful land. Help them find a peaceful place to recover from
the wounds they carry in their soul.

We know that when the mind, body and spirit are addressed in unison, there are
miracles happening everyday. Nadia understands this. Do you? Veteran's Village is non-
political and all she cares about is them. It doesn't matter if they agree with what is being
done in Iraq or not. All she cares about is that they were willing to serve their country
and they are now in need for doing so.

I am proud to call Nadia my friend and I hope one day to be able to meet her, but I have
a feeling we already met in another time and another place. Should we not meet on this
earth face to face, we'll meet later soul to soul.

Posted By Chaplain Kathie Costos to Wounded Times at 6/17/2008 11:56:00 AM

Subject: I wanna to share my words about your Wonderful Son
To: nadiamccaffrey@gmail.com

Dear Mrs Mc Caffrey,

Well you don't know me but I was a friend of your Son Patrick
we were friends on line we would chat all the time. I just found out about his dead like a
month ago
I was so in shock and could not believe when I seen the News on TV and they said his
name and pic  OMG the tears just started rolling down my face. I  just got the courage to
send you an email
letting you know how Patrick was a blessing to know.
I know his Birthday is coming up this Sat.."" Happy Birthday Patrick"" I would always tell
my friends I wonder how My friend Patrick is doing. I used to pray for him all the time
and  I would send him cards and emails and wonder why he never answer me back.. the
last time I chat with him on June 10, 2004 and he was saying he was tired and that is
was hot there.. Ms McCaffrey and I am so sorry to hear the lost of your Wonderful Son
Patrick. he  was a very Loving and Caring Man & Father we talk about each others lifes.
he made me open my eyes about my life he was a wonderful man and I will never forget
your son...

Thank you for letting me share with you
about how I knew your Wonderful Son
Retired 80 % Disabled American Veteran

Subject = Patrick

I was in the 81st BDE and knew Patrick only because he was a medic and I was a
Supply SGT at the time.  I had heard about his passing in the Bellingham Herald, and
was quite saddened and shocked, ESPECIALLY when I learned what had transpired.  
He was such a generous soul, and a nice person to be able to call a "friend"......

I admire you for what you are trying to do for us Veterans, because it sure does not
seem like many people really care about us.  Take my situation, for instance.  I recently
was homeless, with my 5 year old son alongside me.  We slept in my van until 3 days
ago, when I finally obtained housing ONLY with the help of my 21 year old son, who is
sharing the rent with Tyrus and I.  DSHS could not help me, Opportunity Council:
nope......the Housing Authority, nope.....NO one could help nor had any programs
available to house my son and I.  I have never felt so low as to having to sleep in my
van with my 5 year old for 2 weeks, waiting for a house or!
some other shelter.  Why is it that there all these programs to help single MOTHERS
and their children, but not ONE available for single FATHERS and their children?  It's
like they think only female Veterans have housing and other financial problems.....As it
is, I have to pay back a lot of people for services they offered while I was homeless with
my son.  I admire and respect you for what you are doing for us Veterans out here.  
It is VERY touching and commendable to see that someone cares enough about our
plight to actually want to do something about it.  I thank you and appreciate what you
are doing for us.  And thanks for your courage...

Losing a child has to be one of the, if not  the ONLY one, most painful experiences any
parent will ever have to face.  So thanks for your efforts and what you have been trying
to do for all us.

Patrick was indeed lucky to have come from such a courageous, persistent, and caring
mother.  God Bless you and your family......


J. L. S.
SSG, US Army
Medically Disabled Retired Veteran

Thank you my friend, for your kindness and for remembering my son.
if you need to contact me:
209-627 7644
“Wasn’t the Bad Man a Soldier?”
Posted on November 15th, 2009
by Carissa Picard in Op-ed, Texas News, US Government News, US News, crime, military

I live in a housing village on Fort Hood.  On November 4th, at approximately 1:30 PM, the emergency alarms went off.  
I was expecting to hear that this was a test of the “Emergency Alert System.”  Instead, I heard, “Attention.  Seek
shelter immediately.  Close all doors and windows.  Turn off all ventilation systems.  Seek shelter immediately.  Close
all doors and windows.  Turn off all ventilation systems.”  Then the alarms went off again.  And again.  Every fifteen
A great deal of confusion followed  For the next two hours there were many rumors about what was happening,
including a shooting at the PX and in one of the villages.  My husband, who was off-post with our children (who
thankfully got out of school at 1 PM that day and were with him) was unable to come on post as it was on lock down.  
He called me and insisted that I not only stay in the house but that I stay on the second floor and away from the
Around 6:30 PM, Fort Hood lifted the lock down that had prevented anyone from entering or leaving.  From CNN, I
learned the details of the mass murder that had occurred less than 15 minutes away from our home at the place my
husband had visited on numerous occasions in preparation for his tour to Iraq and as part of his reintegration upon
his unit’s return.
As soon as the news began covering the shooting, I started receiving emails and phone calls from people who were
worried about me.  People I barely know have extended their thoughts and prayers to me and my family.  I have not
responded to 99 percent of these people, including family.  I have not talked about the shooting since it occurred.  I
have talked about the shooter, Major Hasan, but not about the shooting itself.
Today, ten days later, I went to the shoppette with another spouse who lives about six houses down the street from
me.  The first thing I saw when I entered the store was two racks of this week’s TIME magazine with Major Hasan’s
military photo on the cover, life-sized and large.  It was like being punched in the stomach.  My first reaction was
disgust.  Then anger.  I turned to my friend and told her, “I don’t even talk about what happened!  Who the hell are
they to talk about it?”  So naturally I had to buy the magazine and find out what they had to say.
(You know what?  If no magazine was making the shooting an issue, that probably would have upset me, too.  It is all
very confusing.)
This got me thinking about why I don’t talk about the shooting.  People keep asking me if I am okay.  I don’t know
how to answer that question.  Yes?  No?  Maybe?   This is a loaded question for those of us who have to answer it.
I feel a great deal of guilt.  I feel guilty when concern is extended to me.  I feel unworthy of that concern.  I feel
unworthy because of the horror experienced by the men and women in the building with that man on that day.  How
can anyone worry about ME or anyone else who wasn’t in the building that day?  We are the blessed and fortunate
ones of that day.  Our scare was that of the unknown, of the wondering.  Our trauma was theoretical, not experiential.
I was recently contacted by Dr. John Ryan, Professor and Chair of Sociology at Virginia Technical Institute—now
known for the Cho mass murders.  Dr. Ryan wanted to find a way to come to Fort Hood after the shooting.  He and
his team focus on helping not the immediate victims of mass shootings, but those in the larger community.  Dr. Ryan
explained that their “work begins from the premise that, in tightly bonded communities, such attacks are attacks on
the whole community, not just the most immediate victims.”
I am trying to get Dr. Ryan and his team access to families at Fort Hood.  I don’t know whether this will be granted. I
know that no one I know here is talking about the shootings.  Again, there is talk about the shooter, but not about the
event itself. Of course, everywhere else in America, this was something worth talking about.  So why aren’t we?
Part of me wonders if it is not because we live on the military post that has lost the most soldiers in the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan.  We also have soldiers committing suicide as well as murdering fellow soldiers (or spouses).   Yes,
what Major Hasan did was extraordinary in HOW MANY soldiers he killed and WHERE he killed them, but haven’t we
come to expect death as part of our lives, in one place or another, one form or another?  We grieve for the families
who lose a soldier and we thank God that it wasn’t our soldier and the Big Green Machine keeps churning.
Besides, our leadership proudly tells the media that this messy matter was taken care of quickly and that training and
missions continue.  Move along, nothing more to see here.  Did Hasan really change anything?
Arguably, he made military lives worse.  Soldiers are unable to feel safe on post, as well as families.  Children already
burdened with trust and mortality issues probably lost the most that day (of those of us in the larger community). The
day after the shooting, my eight-year-old son asked me why there were soldiers with guns at his school.  I explained
they were there to protect him.  He responded, “wasn’t the bad man a soldier?”
Out of the mouths of babes oft times come gems.
Of course, the fact that we live and function under these conditions is a badge of honor; a testament to our resiliency
as individuals and as a community.  Yet suicides and suicide attempts continue to increase yearly.  Our divorce rate
increases every year while the civilian divorce rate is experiencing a 40 year low.  Reports of domestic violence have
gone up seventy-five percent in the last seven years.
How much more stress can we endure?  How much more resilient can we be as a community?  How much more can
be taken from us?  If someone like Dr. Ryan wants to help our families in the larger community process what
happened, why wouldn’t Fort Hood let them?
Am I okay?  Depends on your definition of okay, I suppose.

Carissa Picard

BRETT: Volunteer advocates serve vets

By BRIGID BRETT, San Diego, Ca

For the North County Times | Posted: Friday, January 22, 2010 12:00 am |

Although Chaplain Fred Tittle left Vietnam in 1970, he only filed for compensation from the Veterans Administration in 2003.
"I never considered filing a claim; as a matter of fact, it was filed for me ... I'm not sure if I ever would have unless prompted by someone else,
another combat veteran. This is one of the reasons I do the work that I do with injured veterans; I know how difficult it is to ask for help."
Tittle is a former combat-disabled Marine who is working as chaplain at Moffett Field, located near Sunnyvale, with combat-disabled veterans
as well as active duty members. Most of the injured have traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
The last time I talked to him, he had just helped an Iraq veteran and his family who were living in a homeless shelter find "a more suitable,
calm place to stay and get them connected with help and resources."  The couple have a young daughter ,and the wife was about to give
birth at any moment.
On a given day, Tittle will drive a soldier to her doctor's appointment, defuse a potentially violent altercation with the police and help a
confused and frustrated veteran fill out his mountain of forms so he can get his disability compensation. He does not get paid for any of this.
John Keith, an Iraq veteran, was at the lowest point of his life when he e-mailed Nadia McCaffrey last year. McCaffrey's son, Patrick, was
killed in Iraq in 2004, and she has since become an advocate and "kind of a mom" to many young veterans who have been flailing, utterly
alone and desperate in the months and years after serving their country.
In physical and emotional pain, Keith felt like he couldn't keep trying to get his benefits, trying to deal with the VA, trying to find medications
that wouldn't make him have black-outs. It was through McCaffrey's emotional support and practical guidance that he was able to regain his
strength and start advocating for himself ---- and others. McCaffrey does not get paid for saving and rebuilding lives.
Mary Ellen Salzano started the California Statewide Collaborative for Our Military and Families because she saw the need to save lives by
not only connecting the dots, but connecting the humans. She spends most of her waking hours helping people who are struggling with a
myriad of issues and a sense of deep desperation, to get in touch with people who might be able to help them. She does not get paid.
The VA has seen a 26 percent increase in suicides, mostly among 18- to 29-year-old veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's time to create a new kind of work force ---- of paid advocates.

BRIGID BRETT writes from Valley Center. Contact her at brigidbrett@aol.com.

Posted in Brett on Friday, January 22, 2010 12:00 am | Tags: Brigid Brett, Columns, Nct, Opinion