Military veterans who gathered here charged the Montana National Guard has fallen short in postcombat assistance. “I may sound pretty damn angry and bitter, and I am,” said Matt Kuntz, a former Army officer and stepbrother of Chris Dana, a Helena man who killed himself this year after returning from military service in Iraq. “If you think there aren’t people out there right now staring at their guns, you’re wrong,” Kuntz said Tuesday at a meeting attended by a new Guard committee assigned to assess the needs and services available to veterans facing emotional adjustments as they return from combat. Forming the Post Deployment Health Reassessment Task Force came late, Kuntz said. The Guard already should have been in a position to identify problems and address them, he said. “Mandatory counseling for all vets is imperative while we still have them,” he said. Kuntz described his stepbrother as a good soldier who became unable to attend National Guard drills and was released from the service with a less-than-honorable discharge, which haunted him. “A lot of folks who had been our best soldiers and done the best work are getting real bad discharges,” he said. The National Guard’s policy of asking soldiers to selfreport emotional problems on forms mailed to them is ineffective, Kuntz said. “The critical thing is to make some manner of counseling mandatory,” he said. “There is no stigma that way. Since this is a self-isolating illness you can’t expect people to seek help.” Ken Rosenbaum of Helena, a military helicopter pilot in Bosnia, said the Guard errs in “not identifying individuals who need help,” and needs compassion in leadership. At the start of the meeting, Adjutant Gen. Randy Mosley greeted an audience of about 30 people and then left, concerned his presence might affect what was said to the committee. Members of the committee wrote notes as comments were given, and questioned the speakers. “This task force was created through concerns that the Montana National Guard may not be providing care and follow-up for its members for as long as they would like,” Mosley said in brief, opening remarks. “There were concerns that its time frame might not be of sufficient length.” He said he wants written recommendations from the task force.