Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Who the hell is Jack Cunningham?

"Jack" Cunningham (highlighted) in the Jungles During the Vietnam War

Jack Cunningham has been fighting battles since Vietnam. Unfortunately, there are those who think that some of the battles are fair game to discredit him.

Jack’s has a battle with the law firm of Maynard and Truland, LLC, The NJ State Attorney Ethics Committee and the State of NJ twice now here and here for a run down of the facts and allegations).

What is disgusting is that from his attorneys, to the Ethics Committee to higher up in state government feel it’s perfectly fine to label him as some nut and write off or cover up the entire situation. Our veterans, and all others who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), depression or any other mental issue deserve better.

So let’s look at some statistics that might just help us all realize how pervasive the issue of PTSD really is. If you aren’t familiar with PTSD, the Mayo Clinic defines it as follows: “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it.
Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event…Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within three months of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships.”

The symptoms interfere with everything and can be debilitating. However, not everyone has the “Hollywood” PTSD reactions. In fact, Hollywood has probably done more harm to the reputation of Vets and others who suffer from PTSD by portraying them as “nuts” who will be violent and dangerous at the drop of a hat.

For Vets like Jack, PTSD is debilitating, but not violence producing. It didn’t stop many from writing him off.

So now some stats:

70% of adults experience some form of trauma during their lifetime. 20% of them will develop PTSD. Today that 20% equals 31.3 million people, and at any given time 8% of Americans suffer from it.

1 out of ten of them are women and women are twice as likely to develop it as men. 3-15% of girls (child or teen) and 1-6% of boys (child or teen) suffer from PTSD. 10-30% of Combat veterans suffer from PTSD, and that figure is fuzzy because many who suffer from PTSD go undiagnosed. The cost in money is staggering.

Annual societal costs due to depression, anxiety and PTSD are over $42.5 billion, and those costs inlcude psychiatric and non-psychiatric medical treatment (including prescription drugs), workplace costs and mortality costs. Non-psychiatric costs (doctor and hospital visits) are the biggest component at $23 billion. Much of that cost is due to misdiagnosis.

This is because PTSD also presents with other mental illness symptoms like anxiety and depression.

For Vietnam vets, the National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study found that 30% of men had PTSD at some point since returning from Vietnam. 4 out of 5 reported symptoms 20-25 years later. Much of the lack of treatment was because of mistreatment of Vietnam vets by society.

The perception that those who fought in Vietnam were “baby killers” who burned villages for no good reason is still pervasive and keeps many from seeking needed treatment.

Meet Jack Cunningham
Then there is the “oh just get over it” mindset of people who don’t understand PTSD, anxiety and depression. If only it were that easy… Societal stigma against mental illness is staggering. 9% of American adults suffer from depression, and that’s only those who seek treatment.

The actual numbers are much higher. Many stay in the darkness of depression because they worry about how other people will treat them.

So, back to Jack, Vietnam veteran. John “Jack” Cunningham is the father of 8, 5 children and 3 step children, and the grandfather of 8. He held a job as project manager and data processor for 20 years. Then PTSD reared its ugly head.

It cost him his job and his marriage. The divorce is what precipitated the current battles. Now he just wants to be heard, and have the Courts grant him and others, reasonable accommodations due to his PTSD.

Actually, let’s hear it directly from Cunningham:
“The Maynard and Truland law firm brought to Superior Court a case against Cunningham for a $2,000 open bill. During the case, powerful and influential, Supreme Court Attorney Ethics official Robert Correale represented himself and his own law firm, Maynard and Truland. 
I represented myself, since no New Jersey lawyer wanted to take the case without big money up front. My legal malpractice complaints started with Robert Correale’s and his law firm’s gross negligence, over-charging per hour, false billing, lack of communications, coming to court unprepared and perjury. My evidence was extensive, yet simple.
Evidence was Maynard and Truland’s own contact, their own invoices, court-filed letters, court-filed documents, federal Veterans Affairs medical records, etc.

Nothing was resolved during arbitration. But back in the courtroom, Honorable Superior Court Judge Ronald Graves announced that he had reviewed my detailed evidence.
He threw out Robert Correale’s law firm open bill case and then, against the objection of Correale, stated that my charges of legal malpractice warranted the Superior Court Law Division for damages.
Months later, when I brought the case to the Law Division, Judges Graves court transcript could not be used as merit, because the court clerk’s only copy of the audio transcript was mysteriously missing and could not be transcribed.”
Jack just wants his day. Here’s hoping he finally gets it.

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