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Martinsburg vets turkey day

November 24, 1998|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Coming back from a war that left him psychologically scarred, Vietnam veteran Rob Hugee said he felt useless and worthless when he returned to the United States.

Suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, Hugee said he has struggled to prove to himself that he can make a difference to those around him.

On Monday, Hugee and about 50 of his fellow Vietnam veterans did just that at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Martinsburg.

Hugee said members and alumni of the VA center's PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Program handed out 42 turkeys to area churches, shelters and needy people. The veterans also included canned vegetables and stuffing to provide full Thanksgiving dinners for the less fortunate.

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Hugee said the veterans raised the money for the dinners and assembled the care packages themselves. After handing out the dinners, the veterans joined for an alumni Thanksgiving luncheon at the VA center.

Hugee, 50, of Martinsburg said the VA center's PTSD program helps Vietnam veterans recognize what triggers war flashbacks and helps them become functional members of society.

Striving to do more than just fit in with society, members have found that charitable acts allow veterans to give something positive back to their community, Hugee said.

The veterans do not intend to stop with Thanksgiving, Hugee said. They are already making plans for a Christmas toy drive next month.

"We want to show we still care," he said. "It's still possible to save the world, but you have to start with small portions. We want to start with Martinsburg."

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