A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterward
— Theodore Roosevelt
It was a sad day, a tragic day, and one lived too often by family members of US war veterans. On December 20, 2006 — just five days before Christmas — Daniel Postigliaone, a Vietnam War veteran born in Queens, committed suicide. His death left his family and his only sibling, Julia Dehn, devastated.
“He was the kindest soul you’d ever meet. He’d give you the shirt off of his back, the last penny in his pocket. But the experience of four years in Vietnam and the lack of services when he returned left him in a terrible place. He was homeless at times, misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, ashamed of his mental illness, his service — and in the end, it was that shame and hopelessness that led him to commit suicide,” explained Dehn, now the director of the not-for-profit Daniel Center: an outreach center for active, returning and retired veterans and their families located at 20 Milton Avenue in Highland.
As Dehn noted, the Center has a credentialed, experienced volunteer staff willing and able to do the “littlest and the biggest things” for any veteran, whether it be providing a “cup of coffee and listening to their story, or finding them a place to live, marital counseling, group sessions — we do it all, and want to do whatever we can to assist these amazing men and women who have served our country, given everything and too often find themselves marginalized. We want them to come in, with complete privacy, and we have many resources available; but for the questions we do not, we will find the answers for them. They deserve that and so much more!”
Dehn recalls listening to the radio on the family’s stoop in Queens when the lottery numbers would be called out for those who were to be drafted into the Vietnam War. “They would call out a birthday and a lottery number. I was 14 years old. They announced ‘December 20’ and ‘number 5’ — that was my brother. I cried so hard then. I cry now even more.”