"Mr. Lee has been keeping the non-profit operation alive by paying out of his own pocket hoping that funding will eventually come his way."
The African American Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association is dedicated to the discovery of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and their many maladies.
The African American Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association was established in 1996 in part as an outgrowth of the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Brain Trust Symposium.
The Founder and National President, Mr. Sidney Lee, is a retired Army E-8 Airborne Ranger who completed two tours of duty in Vietnam. Mr. Lee, a Master Parachutist, was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Silver Star, Bronze Star with "V" device, Army Commendation with "V" device and the Air Medal; just to name a few of his awards. "It took" says Mr. Lee, "two years to receive 20% disability for the severe injuries I incurred which were all combat-related."
He became so disillusioned with the system that he moved to Europe for several years until his illnesses were too much to deal with and he could not get the proper treatment he needed.
He came back to America and was able to get full benefits this time.
"Having gone through so much myself, I wanted to help all Veterans with their claims and help them learn how to navigate the system" he said. "The problem is that Grants are limited for the services we provide - most want a 501(c) 3 and we are a 501 (c) 19, which is also tax-deductible - yet we offer the same services. We're in 'no-man's land'; we can't pay salaries and we can't compete with the VFW, American Legion or AM Vets because they have exclusive rights to the military installations and funding from the State is based upon the number of claims processed. Unless they open the playing field we will continue to struggle. That's been our fight for the last 12 years."
There needs to be more awareness about this reality and clarification of some misconceptions that exist in regard to the African American Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association.
"Interestingly enough, the AAPTSD membership is 55% non-African American." Sidney Lee says "It's just a name. We serve from the heart. The Department of Veterans Affairs prohibits us from discrimination - not that we would discriminate in any way, shape or form anyway. We were told that if we put AA in front of our name it would be difficult to get funding. We believed it shouldn't have mattered, but 16 years later that has proven to be true."
Because of this, Mr. Lee has been keeping the non-profit operation alive by paying out of his own pocket hoping that funding will eventually come his way. "It's tough" he says "but this is my passion and we want to help all Veterans throughout the U.S. We certainly appreciate all the help we can get."
The African American Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association has provided Veterans, family members of Veterans, homeless Veterans and incarcerated Veterans, direct services (e.g. food, clothing, personal hygiene items, shoes, boots and blankets). The AA PTSD Association has provided these services with an all-volunteer force that utilizes their own funds to finance and operate this very necessary program. For more information, please visit: hwww.aaptsdassn.org
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