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Primary concern is for veterans

February 3, 2012
By Frank Karl , Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3357

I have some comments as to recent articles regarding the addition of a proposed 25-bed community residence to treat our men and women veterans suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other related disorders, including drug and alcohol addictions, on the property of the St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center.

My first reaction was one of anger for the apparent disregard for the sacrifices of the men and women who have served and are serving this great nation of ours, including our Saranac Lake area communities. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice, while others return home to our communities with severe medical and emotional problems such as PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction, and other stress-related disorders. They did their duty in protecting our country and the freedoms and constitutional rights that allow us to live in and enjoy our communities. Now it is our responsibility to address their needs and those of their families. Our VFW motto shows us the way: "We honor the dead by caring for the living."

Concerns expressed, according to the Enterprise: "potential impacts on traffic, the character of the residential neighborhood and his and other residents' property values." How do you equate that with the sacrifices our veterans made? St. Joe's has existed for many years, before many of these houses were built, and has not appeared to have affected their values - and if suspect, why did they build there? Many of the other "potential" problems are addressed by the village building codes.

"We have no knowledge whatsoever, nor has there been any public explanation of the degree of impairment or PTSD that these folks would have," Mark Sengenberger said. There have been continued local and national coverage of these issues for our veterans. The ADE does an outstanding job covering veterans issues and the need for increased treatment facilities. In fact, St. Joe's has been chosen as one of the only four centers in New York state to receive a grant to expand these programs. The history of this area as a caring, nurturing, curing, community atmosphere is as ideally suited for today's needs as they were in the days of TB cure cottages. Our veterans more than deserve the best we can give them, and St. Joe's has been recognized as such.

What are we saying to our veterans in need? Maybe, "We're supportive of the concept of a center for addiction and PTSD suffering, but not here.

"We certainly appreciate your serving our country and protecting our freedoms and the value of our homes in our community; just don't expect to live or rehabilitate nearby."

It seems it would be a proud moment for these parents to sit in their homes with family, friends, children and grandchildren, enjoying the comforts of being able to make them aware that the structure across the street, "if visible," is treating the men and women soldiers who were protecting our freedom and privilege to live here. In their eyes and in our soldiers' eyes it would increase the value.

Noise pollution? Light pollution? And what is "a general change of character"? We are not talking about a factory or a landfill or a sewage plant, but a medical cure facility, whose main concerns are for cleanliness and an environment conducive to successful rehabilitation.

Let us all work together to provide the facilities necessary to get the job done. Over the years, the Tri-Lakes communities have one of the highest percentages of men and women serving per population in the USA. With more than 10,000 returning from current conflicts to New York state each year, we will have more than our share of those in need.

God bless this great nation of ours, and God bless this caring, nurturing community in which we live, and those men and women soldiers who, since our country was born, have made it all possible.


Frank Karl lives in Onchiota and is senior vice president and adjutant of the VFW Post 3357 in Saranac Lake.



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