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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Operation Medical Libraries turns face toward home

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

(Sentinel photo by Magdalene Landegent) Stephen Liebetrau, a volunteer with Operation Medical Libraries, checks out one of the medical books donated to the organization to be given to doctors in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the group's new mission is on the home front. Operation Medical Libraries donated seven books to the Le Mars Public library on post-traumatic stress disorder for veterans and their families to read.
First Operation Medical Libraries worked to bring medical textbooks to physicians in need in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now the group's mission is a little closer to home -- the Le Mars Public Library.

Members of Operation Medical Libraries are working to make books on post-traumatic stress disorder accessible to soldiers who have returned from war.

"This is a pilot project. We wanted to take care of our veterans coming back home and those who've been in earlier wars," said Steve Liebetrau, a volunteer with Operation Medical Libraries and a physician recruiter at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Sioux City.

Many veterans, he said, are returning from duty with post-traumatic stress disorder.

This is an anxiety disorder that a person can develop after being exposed to a terrifying incident or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Operation Medical Libraries wants to make resources readily available to veterans and their families to help them cope and, if needed, seek additional professional medical help, Liebetrau said.

Seven books have been delivered to the Le Mars Public Library.

"A lot of them are written by veterans themselves or people who have knowledge of the disorder," Liebetrau said. "They're about people who have stories from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam."

Some books have workbooks for families to go through together.

And some books share real life experiences.

"They tell how it was for these people to return home, how it was difficult to adjust, what coping skills they used," he said.

The shipment to Le Mars is part of an Iowa trial run for this mission of Operation Medical Libraries.

"In Le Mars, with the guard unit there, we thought it was probably more of a need," Liebetrau said.

The rest of the first distribution of books is going to the Akron Public Library, which is near Liebetrau's home, and to a National Guard unit in Yankton, S.D.

The mission may grow, Liebetrau said.

"We wanted to see how it goes over," he said. "We'll probably keep it around the tri-state area."

The books are donated at no cost from doctors and publishers like New Harbinger Publications, Casemate Publishers, Idyll Arbor, Inc., TLV Publishing, Troffard Publishing, I Universe, US Army and Outskirts Press.

Liebetrau has been involved with Operation Medical Libraries for one year.

"I've never been in the service myself. My dad served in World War II," he said. "I wanted to find a cause where I could help soldiers and their families. This is kind of way I could give back."

He started with the group's overseas goal -- to get medical textbooks into the hands of physicians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Taliban, he said, burned many of the medical books there.

"Physicians have been very supportive. They've donated more than 100 books," Liebetrau said. "The books go to different bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. The troops bring in the Iraqi and Afghan physicians they work with and allow them to come choose the books they want for free."

That mission is ongoing.

People can still donate medical and nursing textbooks. Preferred are anatomy and physiology textbooks and medical dictionaries, along with textbooks in all specialty areas of medicine.

To donate, contact Liebetrau at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center by phoning 712-279-3331.

Books can also be dropped of at the main operator's desk at St. Luke's or at the Akron Library.

"I've got numerous letters back from medical personnel," Liebetrau said. "They're grateful for the materials they've received. This is one way we can help."

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