Former U.S. Army Specialist Karl Warner is back home after 5 tough years serving in the U.S. Army and served in the Middle East. It's his first Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. He's loving his time here in Reno, "Every second of it...every second of it." But he's feeling a bit out of place…he's one of the youngest attending. After looking around, he told us, "We need more of the guys my age, the guys from O.I.F., Operation Iraqi Freedom to come out and be part of this. We're the next generation."
Karl's pet cause is PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder. He knows too many buddies suffering from intense anxiety. As he told us, "Too many, yes, myself included."
Ruth Fairchild, who served 12 years in Operation Desert Storm, agrees its growing in importance. She told us it's "an extremely big issue, brought forward now because they're more willing to admit they have it, more so than the Vietnam vets."
The VFW is America's oldest and largest organization of combat veterans…veterans who gather once a year representing what's important to them, often for those seeking the nation's highest office. President Obama did not address this convention last year, or the year before. It's once every 4 years when the issues discussed at this convention seem to carry more weight. Ruth told us she and her fellow attendees "Want to know what the presidential candidates are going to do for veterans. We don't want them to take anything away from veterans. And if they do, we don't want them."
Another reason they're here: to be with their other brothers in arms…all 10,000 of them. Ruth loves "The camaraderie, the fellowship, the family. This is my family. It always will be." Karl agreed. "You got your brothers and sisters with you, and that's what's most important, protecting and serving with your buddies."
Karl and Ruth have adjusted well back in the states, but they know too many have not. They want to provide that voice, for the others back home.
The 113th Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention concludes on Wednesday, after the election of new VFW officers for 2012-2013.
Sunday, May 19 2013 7:02 PM EDT2013-05-19 23:02:30 GMT
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