LVMAC Tidbits — Veterans Sanctuary: Closed Up for Good?

Treatment Trends Announces Suspension of Operations

It is with profound dismay that the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council informs you of Veterans Sanctuary’s suspension of operations. It was our only local, long-term residential addiction and PTSD services treatment facility exclusively dedicated to military veterans. This important asset to our veterans statewide is no longer accepting clients. (more…)

LVMAC News — Mensch Says More Can Be Done


 State Senator Bob Mensch, 24th District, spoke to the Council at its business meeting on 18 April 2012.

A Valley Forge Military Academy graduate, he served in the Army Reserve as a platoon sergeant of a heavy engineer equipment platoon during the Vietnam Era. Currently, among other committees, he serves on the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, headed by Senator Lisa Baker.  He is on the only legislator in the valley to so serve on a veterans affairs related committee.

He began by stating he recognizes that the Vietnam War veterans often returned with unattended problems and with little due respect from their society. He has had buddies who suffer from Agent Orange diseases and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Consequently, he feels strongly we must do better by our veterans.

Things are significantly different now, he related, and we have learned to respect our troops, no matter our disagreements about the current war.  Nonetheless, our state legislature is not doing as good a job as it should in helping to catch returning veterans who need help, particularly in the area of mental health and PTSD. (more…)

LVMAC News — Larry Speaks Out

President of Vietnam Veterans of America’s State Council Addresses the Council

Larry Holman, the President of the State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, spoke to the Council at its 21 March business meeting on the topic of the “Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) — Not Forgetting Its or the Next Generations.”

First, he explained its origins. VVA came into being because existing veterans organizations at the time were not always welcoming to returning Vietnam veterans – many felt rejected.  However, it did not really get started as an organization until the late 1970’s, early 1980’s.  It realized there was strength in numbers. Out of their own experiences, came its founding principle and its motto:  “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” More on its history can be found on its website.

Mr. Holman stated VVA is an active organization and an outspoken advocate for the current generation of war veterans.  There is good reason.  There are concerns over hazardous exposures, let alone trauma injuries. (more…)



Clyde Hoch, author of Tracks – Memoirs of a Vietnam Veteran, spoke to the Council on his service in the Marine Corps, his remembrances of war and his return home.

First off, he expressed his appreciation to the Council for their concern for veterans as he thinks too often veterans “are tossed aside” once they have played their role in the defense of the nation.

Now in his sixties, he believes he has a story to tell – as many other veterans do also – which can help the young understand that sometimes great sacrifices are made on their behalf, that millions of men and women before them have left their loving families to do whatever is necessary to protect our way of life. Nor does it matter they ultimately served as cooks or infantry, for the deed was in the willingness to sacrifice for others even when those “others” often little understood or cared for the service members during the Vietnam era. (more…)

LVMAC News — Swinfard Talks on Downstream Effects of War


Dr. Ronald W. Swinfard, M.D., President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LHVN) spoke to the Council at its business meeting on 19 October.  During the Vietnam War, he served in the Medical Service Corps as a Battalion Surgeon (a lieutenant position)  of an Aid Station (a platoon equivalent organization) in 195th  Brigade of the Americal Division (23rd Infantry Division), circa 1970.  After a short stint as a high school teacher, upon return from service and decommissioning, he embarked on a career as a doctor, first training in internal medicine and later dermatology as a specialty.  In 2003, Swinfard was hired by the Lehigh Valley Health Network as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) after serving at fifteen years at the Harry S. Truman VA Medical Center in Columbia, Missouri, eventually rising to the position of Section Chief for Dermatology.  He was also a key figure in the University of Missouri Hospital – Columbia.  In November of 2010, he was selected for his current position.  He stated that he is ever mindful of the sacrifice of others who gave their lives and because of them, believes we should celebrate our lives and make them useful in the service of others.

In his talk, “The Downstream Health Effects of War,” he observed that few doctors are veterans and hence a learning curve is often required when it comes to their care.  He noted that that LHVN sees a lot of veterans in their Emergency Rooms; and that while the organization has done some work with the local VA Clinic, it intends to do more on the behalf of our local veterans. (more…)

LVMAC Tidbits

Judith’s Reading Room Helps Veterans Sanctuary As an extension of one of its ongoing efforts, which is support our troops with books to read,  Judith’s Reading Room is donating to Veterans Sanctuary a custom designed mobile library stocked with books hand picked to help in the recovery of veterans suffering Read more…

LVMAC News — Keystone Wounded Warriors Introduce Themselves

Council Speaker:  On 21 September 2011, Captain Samuel Johnson, USMC – who is assigned as an Instructor-Inspector to the newly relocated 150 personnel Battery I, 3-14 Regiment of Artillery (155 mm) which closed on the Lehigh Valley’s Navy-Marine Corps Reserve Center from Reading on 15 September – spoke to the Council on the origins and initiatives of the Keystone Wounded Warriors, a new nonprofit, charitable 501(c)(3) organization incorporated  in October of 2010 and just beginning to operate in the Lehigh Valley. (more…)


Speaker:  On 17 August, BG (PA) Michael Gould, the Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs in the Commonwealth, spoke to the council.  He explained that most states have a Secretary of Veterans Affairs but in this state the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has the responsibility.  He is one of three deputies and serves at the pleasure of the Governor, though he sees his responsibility is in serving first the veterans.

His Office of Veterans Affairs is primarily consumed with the operation of six state veterans homes, requiring some 1800 employees.  Its other functional responsibilities, in comparison, are relatively small.  For example, the Office of Veterans Affairs has three small field offices of veterans service officers located in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Ft. Indiantown Gap which file VA claims on behalf of veterans and work in confederation with the County Directors of Veterans Affairs.

This does not mean he is not busy.  He has an open door policy for any veteran and has traveled approximately 63,000 miles on veterans business in the last year.

General Gould pointed out that his office manages six benefits programs, such as a paralyzed veteran pension and an emergency assistance fund, to the tune of $1 million but these touch only 1 to 2 per cent of the state’s veterans and as constituted are mostly redundant, considering the federal programs available for the same purposes.

He believes changes are necessary in his office (more…)


Speaker:  Ann Friedenheim, Clinical Supervisor for Confront Services, Treatment Trends, Inc. spoke about a new program to be launched by Treatment Trends and called, “Supporting the Homefront: Educational Footing for Families of Veterans and Active Duty Men and Women.”

After three years of planning and effort, (more…)

LVMAC Tidbits

Reminder: Veterans Sanctuary is now open for business Veterans Sanctuary is accepting referrals as of  July 11, 2011.  Veterans Sanctuary offers moderate to long term (Level 3B – 3C) inpatient – non- hospital treatment for addiction and co-occurring disorders (including PTSD) for male and female Veterans. For admission or referral Read more…