Local Vet Heads To Washington To Fight For Benefits
by Adam Ghassemi
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – They served our country, but many veterans are finding transitioning back to civilian life has a few more challenges than they expected. One local man is now among a select group to fight for veteran benefits.
Dar Place joined the Army after high school, and during a 28-year career worked his way up to Lieutenant Colonel.
He still wears a band on his wrist that has the name of every person lost who served under him.
"So that I never forget them, and the sacrifice that they made for this country," he said.
But last year, when Place decided to retire he learned the harsh reality of how difficult it can be for qualified veterans to find a good job, and how hard it'll be as even more troops come home.
"Our nation is going to lay off another 90,000 veterans. And they're going to reenter the workforce. And they're going to find that jobs aren't available or that they're going to have to go back to school," Place said.
Place said all the attention PTSD gets these days has a downside. Some employers are reluctant to hire, and even if do it may only be for entry-level work.
While he looks for a new career, he's also fighting a war on benefits.
Place is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America (IAVA) and has been selected to be just one of a few from across the country to "Storm the Hill" to lobby Congress next week.
They plan to fight to keep what veterans currently get, and stop the threat of having some of it taken away by recent or planned legislation.
"We shouldn't be asked to give up so much when others aren't being asked to give up anything," he said. "It's important to me that veterans' issues get put in front of our elected leaders and they know that we're not going to go away."
It's not just important to him for his benefits, but also for thousands of others, like his son who is currently serving, who are fighting under the promise that they'll be taken care of one day.
"When you called us we came, and now that time is over you can't turn your back on us," Place went on to say.
Place heads to Washington with the rest of the group March 22-28.
Southwest Airlines is flying all veterans to DC, but each veteran has to raise money from family and friends for living expenses during their one-week stay.