Thursday, March 27, 2008

Katrina, PTSD Not Over For Louisiana

While the mainstream media have been concentrating on Bosniagate, Wrightgate, and other scandals, Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Region are being tortured by the after-effects of Katrina, the federal flood, and by PTSD. It's time the media including bloggers got over the relative trivia of both Bosniagate and Wrightgate and asked our candidates what really matters--why they've been downplaying the continued suffering of the Gulf Region, and what each plans to do if he/she becomes President.

Here's why the continuing trauma lived by Louisiana, Mississippi, and the rest of the Gulf Region needs to be brought up often and not allowed to die. And the continued suffering of their people must not be forgotten. Their people matter--they vote, pay taxes, and send their young people off to fight in Bush's wars just like anybody else. This is why there needs to be on Daily Kos a continuing series of blogathons at least monthly on this topic. We must be persistent and not let our voices be drowned out by a flood of campaign diaries.

First of all, New Orleans' medical care crisis festers on--yet Gov. Bobby Jindal questions the need for a large Charity Hospital which has not re-opened since the flood.

However, Jindal has announced a a comprehensive plan for bringing Louisiana back from her nervous breakdown by boosting mental health care in New Orleans.

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and DHH Secretary Alan Levine held a press conference in New Orleans to announce legislation to address the mental health care crisis, which will be taken up in the legislative session beginning next Monday.

Jindal said, “The broken pieces in our mental healthcare system affect every Louisianian, but the problem is especially acute in New Orleans. New Orleans officials estimate that the annual suicide rate has more than tripled since Hurricane Katrina...and the World Health Organization estimates that tens of thousands of people in the storm-affect region today have a serious mental illness. We must take a comprehensive approach to address this crisis – one that incorporates the needs of patients, law enforcement, and the community as a whole.”

But Jindal needs to do more--for the painful post-flood mental health crisis wracking Louisiana affects not only New Orleans, but Baton Rouge, Shreveport--any place around the state to which evacuees dispersed with their "baggage" of losses and traumas to find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings in which they're now homesick. And now they're seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD--and finding it very hard to find.

Then there's this surprising news in a commentary in the New Orleans weekly Gambit. The leading blocker of an 8/29 Commission to look into what happened to the levees has been none other than "Bitter Vitter" of diapers fame.

And the Road Home Program continues to keep its applicants in limbo as they're forced to wait long months for the money they need to get on with their lives. That's not all--poor applicants who'd had titles to their homes through succession have found that the state is unable to pay their legal aid bill.

And these are only a few of the heart-wrenching stories out of New Orleans, the rest of Louisiana's storm and flood ravared parishes, and the Gulf Region in general. These things are making life hell for the people who live there. Such stories--the need to make sure what the people are going through there is not forgotten--are why the mainstream media needs to renew its focus on them.

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Midwest lover of New Orleans and of all things having to do with Louisiana.