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IRAQ WAR VETERAN THANKFUL FOR THE VFW'S PERSISTENCE

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

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Iraq war veteran, Monica Gonzalez

Monica Gonzalez is a wife and mother to two kids under the age of nine. She’s also a veteran of the Iraq War who suffers from PTSD.

“I deployed in 2003,” she said. “I experienced things while I was in Iraq that have seriously affected me.”

Gonzalez’s symptoms are those often associated with PTSD: panic disorder, anxiety and anger issues. She knew she needed help so she filed for disability benefits from the VA. Monica was crushed when her claim was denied.

“We were living in Tennessee at the time,” Monica said. “My husband is also in the military, and we were stationed there.

“There was a lot of hassle throughout the whole process, and it wasn’t really clear why I was denied. It was very disheartening and deterred me from seeking help.”

After Tennessee, the family relocated to Chicago where Monica began going to the VA for therapy. Once again, she attempted to file a PTSD claim, but the red tape created even more frustration.

“I just got the run-around again,” Gonzalez shared. “I thought, ‘I don’t care anymore, it’s not worth it.’”

As fate would have it, her family relocated once again in 2008. This time they were stationed at Fort Hood where Gonzalez would meet Tom Parker, VFW Benefits Delivery at Discharge Representative, and things would start looking up for her.

“It’s hard out there,” said Gonzalez. “It really is.

“Tom understands what it’s like, and he was different than anyone else I’d gone to for help,” she continued.

“He carefully explained anything I didn’t understand and got personally involved in my case. I can’t thank him enough.”

After another lengthy claims process, Gonzalez finally received a proper rating. It was a cathartic moment after all the years of dead ends.

“I cried at the news,” she said. “It was such a relief, but even more than that, it felt so good to finally have my claim legitimized and have that formal acknowledgement from my country.”

Gonzalez adds that Tom’s patience and kindness kept her hopes up throughout the process, and she feels much more optimistic about her future now.

“With my claim resolved, I’ve been able to leave my job and focus on healing myself and being there for my family,” she said. “I have time to go to therapy, and it really feels like I’m turning the corner.”

Gonzalez’s health is also improving in other ways. With her PTSD symptoms under control, she’s reduced her blood pressure enough to go off the medications she used to rely on.

“I strongly recommend asking for help from the VFW to other veterans,” she shared. “The financial support helps ease so much stress. It can greatly improve your emotional and physical health.”

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