A quick look at trending new headlines indicates public interest is all about the latest society scandal, the newest perverted sexual fetish or Kim Kardashian’s summer wardrobe. Seems the American media, and the American public that consume this garbage, prefer diversion and debris rather than hard news stories about it’s deployed military personnel or ill and wounded veterans.
Americans need to wake-up, pay attention and loudly demand our government leaders, both Democrat and Republican, stop involving the country in political conflicts leading to U.S. military intervention. Why must the U.S. always get in the middle of unresolvable, centuries old grievances?
The United States is a country that endeavors to ensure foreign nations have access to freedom and democracy, yet we have difficulty providing protection, assistance, support and safety for American citizens, even within our own borders.
Every international conflict in which the U.S. intervene leaves a legacy of death, debt and destruction. One of the most heartbreaking results of combat is the astronomical and alarming rate of sickness and suicide within America’s armed forces: both active service personnel and combat veterans.
A recent story in the online news publication The Raw; May 24, 2012 reports, “Traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, amputations, burns and facial disfiguration -— all these we have seen on our TV screens, however fleetingly. But another signature injury that has scrawled its misery across veterans’ lives remains largely unknown. It goes by different names — Burn Pit disease, Gulf War 2 Syndrome, Iraq and Afghanistan War Lung Injury, Post-Deployment Illness — but what veterans and contract workers who have it, and the small cadre of physician-scientists dedicated to understanding and treating it, agree on is that, like Gulf War Illness, its cause is wartime toxic exposure. An inhalational injury, it attacks the airways and lungs first, and then can wound most every other organ and system. “Burn pits were constant,” Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said, and most everyone was exposed to them “sometime during their deployment.” In 2009, the military admitted that as many as 360,000 veterans may have suffered traumatic brain injury, an, in turn, established programs for research and treatment. But about the systemic disease of our recent wars, the brass is admitting — and doing — almost nothing.”
Military personnel with mental problems encounter a diverse array of obstacles in getting the mental health counseling they so desperately need: concern over confidentiality, access to counseling and concerns about how seeking professional help will adversely impact an officer or enlisted person’s military career.
Newly released statistics point the need for government leaders to take their head’s out of the desert sand and consider the grim statistics. Action is required. The organization Americans Who Support PTSD Victims reports:
- “An average of 18 veterans commit suicide each and every day of the year, according to recent statistics from the Veterans Administration (VA). That’s 126 veterans who kill themselves every week. Or some 6,552 who take their own lives each year. Our veterans are killing themselves at twice the rate of other Americans.
- One quarter of the homeless people in America are military veterans. That’s one in every four. Is that ragged man huddled on the steam great in a brutal winter wind a Vietnam vet? Did that younger man panhandling for pocket change on the street corner fight in Kandahar or Fallujah?
- The experts say that between 20 and 30 percent of all troops returning from combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But many of VA hospitals didn’t have the special PTSD programs that experts say are vital. Soldiers returning from Iraq are allowed to slip unnoticed into their old lives, and neither the Department of Defense nor the VA does anything to monitor their mental health.”
- The VA keeps telling Congress that all is well. That’s not true. The VA has been using fudged or inflated numbers to do so. And after years of promising that it’s getting a growing backlog of disability compensation applications under control, things actually got worse this year.
- No matter whether they’ve been wounded and need follow-up care and support, or whether they’re coming apart at the seams and feeling suicidal, they sometimes must wait months for an appointment to be evaluated and treated at VA medical centers.
The apathy of our elected leaders to the plight of America’s armed forces is disgraceful and reflects poorly on us as a nation. Veteran advocacy groups vehemently voice their concerns stating, “Neglecting our war veterans and the widows and orphans that result from our wars is as American as apple pie. It’s nothing new. But in the past we always waited until after the war’s end to forget those who’d fought the war. This may be the first time in our history that we began to neglect and forget our troops during a war.
All of this is shameful — shameful for a people whose freedom and prosperity rests on the backs of those soldiers but who’ve forgotten them so completely that they haven’t held their Congress and their president responsible for this stain on our honor.
The next smarmy politician who shouts, “God bless our troops” ought to be tarred and feathered and ridden out of Washington on a rail for sheer hypocrisy.”
By: Marlene Affeld
Americans Who Support PTSD Victims
The Raw Story