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VFW plans program to aid new veterans
Joe LaBranch unlocks the door to the VFW building, which will serve as a new Veterans Center. - photo by Autumn McBride
A trained killer walked through the city without a weapon, feeling vulnerable and unsure.Hearing the sounds of rapid footsteps behind him, the man turned and dropped kicked another in the chest.The Vietnam War veteran hadn’t yet adjusted to civilian life. “I went from the jungles to the streets of Detroit in 24 hours,” said Joe LaBranche, adding that it didn’t get much better after that. “For years, I walked around thinking there’s something wrong with me.”It took nearly 43 years for LaBranche to realize that he wasn’t crazy.Dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in a world that didn’t want to talk about it gave him little opportunity to learn how to cope.Now a member of the Cumming Veterans of Foriegn Wars Post 9143, LaBranche has plans to start a program that will give adjusting vets a place to turn in hopes that our nation’s newest heroes won’t have to go through what he experienced.Put simply, the program will help guide veterans of the War on Terror back into civilian life.The Veterans Center would provide assistance dealing with the Veterans Administration, as well as job training and the ability to video chat with those overseas.