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DAV empowers Army veteran to seek much-needed care

Even as a teenager, Army veteran Rhonda White did her part to help others.

“I came from a poor family and worked a lot during high school to help support my little brother and sister,” said White. “College was not on my horizon at the time, so the military was my only option to make something of myself.”

In 1990, attached to the 21st TAACOM Unit out of Indianapolis, White deployed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where she worked for the Long-Range Planning Cell in Daharan and King Khalid Military City during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

“I was 24-years-old at the time of deployment, and it was the first time I was away for that long during the holidays — Christmas, New Year’s, birthday, Easter,” White said. “It was hard and lonely at times, but knowing that I was serving for such a cause gave me strength and much purpose.”

Not long after White returned home, she began experiencing fatigue, joint pain, backaches, headaches, and a range of other symptoms that would ultimately be attributed to Gulf War Illness caused by exposure to environmental hazards, such as burning oil wells, sand, and chemicals.

“My doctors told me it was likely stress or getting older,” White recalled. “They tried to prescribe me sleeping pills and pain killers, but I refused to take them, feeling that I was way too young to be feeling this way and desiring to find better solutions for my pain.”

Years later, White was diagnosed with service-connected degenerative disc disease and underwent cervical fusion to repair two ruptured discs in her neck.

White still battles lingering symptoms and pain from her service-connected illness and injuries, but her local VA Medical Center has offered her some relief and understanding.

“I was offered alternative methods of treatment, including acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and women’s therapy groups to cope with my PTSD better,” said White.

DAV has also made a difference in this veteran’s life.

“The DAV helped me to understand that I wasn’t alone and that I deserved to seek help,” White said. “We as women sometimes tend to put our own health and well-being behind those of our family and children, but it is a mistake to think that way because women are so important to any family unit,”

DAV successfully helped White with benefits for her service-connected illness and injuries due to her service in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

“The DAV team in Indianapolis is a great group of individuals who are extremely knowledgeable and thorough,” said White. “They are sure to devote those talents to each and every veteran who seeks their help. They helped me, and for that I am grateful.”

White wants all veterans to be aware that DAV is there for them too.

“I wish it were more widely known that the DAV is available to help any fellow veteran who is considering filing a claim with the VA or to answer any question that veteran may have — especially women veterans out there who are still struggling with service-connected health issues,” said White.

“No one should wait to seek help from their DAV. It has been an empowering experience for me, and it will be for you too.”

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