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Marine combat veteran receives justice after three decades

Hypervigilance. 

It’s a heightened state of awareness where one continually assesses potential threats to their well-being. 

Al Silva is no stranger to potential threats. In 1981, he enlisted in the Marine Corps as an infantryman. His nearly three decades of service involved 10 different deployments—four of those combat-related. 

During his first deployment to Beirut, his battalion headquarters was hit by a suicide truck bombing.

"Immediately after the bombing, we did an initial assessment and found that all lines of communications with our higher headquarters had been severed. We had to be extra vigilant in our defenses,” Silva said. “We were instructed to start looking for any survivors and sensitive equipment or weapons. What I found at the site was chaos, confusion and destruction.”

While Al Silva faithfully and honorably continued to serve our nation, he took the memories of surviving the initial attack with him.

With each deployment that followed, his skills sharpened. So did his senses. 

The hypervigilance grew as Silva served in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and Iraq. Upon his retirement in 2008 after 27 years of honorable service, his heightened awareness stayed with him—and it affected him significantly. 

The haunting mental images of his fallen comrades remain with him to this day.

“I continuously reflect on my brothers and sisters who never made it home,” Silva said. “One of the reasons that I joined DAV was to maintain a connection with others who served. I also found the VA benefits claims process difficult to navigate. I needed DAV’s help.”

Though Silva joined DAV in 2009, his membership proved helpful years later when post-traumatic stress disorder surfaced in full force. 

“I have terrible nightmares. While serving in the military, I didn’t know who to turn to. I couldn’t go to command because I was one of the senior enlisted Marines in my command,” Silva said.

After retiring from the military, Silva did have someone he could turn to. He remembered his friend, DAV benefits advocate Don Inns, with whom he had served as a Marine. 

“I believe DAV is a beacon of hope in the darkest hours of a veteran’s disability. Having been in their boots, our advocates understand the anxiety and social stigma associated with PTSD,” Inns said. “DAV is there to assist veterans in navigating VA benefits claims so they can focus on what matters most: healing.”

Though Inns lives in another state, he was able to get Silva in contact with the DAV benefits advocate in his area. Finally, Silva was able to get the help and healing he needed.

“If I only would’ve known all of the benefits that are available to veterans, I could have gotten help sooner,” Silva said.

He now wants to assist other veterans in accessing DAV’s resources. He recently donated his vehicle to help other brave men and women who served our country.

Albert Silva is paying it forward.

Do you want to turn your vehicle into vital resources? You, too, can ensure that our nation’s heroes enjoy the freedoms their sacrifices provided for all. To donate your vehicle or for more information, please visit dav.careasy.org/blog or call 833-CAR-4DAV (833-227-4328)

Are you or a loved one struggling with PTSD that is service-connected? DAV assists veterans who are living with PTSD every day. Don’t wait to get help. Contact DAV today.


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