As Monday’s Veterans Day observance approaches, Americans need to recommit themselves to providing care and support for young military veterans from wars of the 21st century.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a disability that agencies from the Veterans Administration on down have been trying to do more to treat. We applaud those efforts, because of the large numbers of veterans that could greatly benefit from them.
According to VA statistics, as of 2012, 2.5 million Americans had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 1.6 million of them had transitioned to veterans status.
More than 270,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan had been seen by the VA health system for potentially having post-traumatic stress disorder. The agency has awarded disability benefits to more than 150,000 of them.
A huge number of ex-military continue to suffer the mental toll of serving their country.
It’s particularly sad when veterans with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder become so despondent that they take their own lives.
Thankfully, much more is known now about this serious mental ailment, which in past wars was known as “shell shock.” Its sufferers were not viewed with much sympathy, as painfully evidenced by Gen. George Patton’s disrespectful treatment of a shell-shocked soldier during World War II.
Other groups have joined the VA in reaching out to veterans with PTSD.
In May, Sauk Valley Media reported about the help received by a former Marine from Dixon, who was diagnosed with PTSD, from the Wounded Warrior Project.
Wounded Warrior encouraged Colin Bond to leave a high-stress job, become more physically active, meet and compete with other veterans, and reassess his life.
“Wounded Warriors changed my life,” Bond said. “There’s no doubt. It basically made me realize family and friends are what I need to be happy, not just something like keeping a job because it pays well.”
For more information, go to woundedwarriorproject.org on the Internet.
This week, a Quad-Cities hospital announced it was strengthening its participation and leadership in community initiatives that focus on post-traumatic stress disorder.
UnityPoint Health-Trinity, of Rock Island, plans to do more to identify military veterans when they come in. That way, care providers down the line can use that knowledge as they diagnose and treat illnesses (physical, behavioral and mental) that might be linked to military service.
Efforts such as these help to supplement the care provided by taxpayers through the Veterans Administration.
Veterans risked their lives to protect their fellow citizens. We can never do enough to thank them, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. Supporting better treatment for PTSD is one way for the public to repay its debt to veterans.