It’s 0430 on a Tuesday morning. It’s nice a cool outside, being late fall. Dark and quiet with the exception of an occasional vehicle on the nearby highway. The sky is clear and the stars in the sky are a pleasant greeting. It’s a nice time to sip coffee on the front porch, breath in the fresh mountain air, and think about nothing in particular. Then there’s a thump…thump sound. I immediately dive inside, roll, and yell “Get Down!”.
A true story that happened to me 2 years after I turned from overseas. The thumps I heard I interpreted to be the sound of mortar tube launches. It’s also not the first time, nor the last that I’ve had a similar experience.
It’s known as Post Traumatic Stress and is common in those returning from the war zone, as well as first responders (police, firefighters) and rape survivors. It can be triggered by a number of things: audible or visual.
It was after the event I described that my wife decided I needed some help. I had not been diagnosed with PTS but after 3 sessions with a therapist, it was determined I did have a moderate case. Normally, depending on the severity, some drugs might be prescribed. These medications though have some mind altering effects on the patient where the individual may not be able to function normally in society. Those are the most severe cases though. I was lucky and did not need medication.
Why am I writing about this? As I wrote recently, it’s something I am passionate about. It’s not always just physical wounds that require care, but the whole person. We’ve been at war for a long time against people that will use any method available to kill or maim. They use these methods not only against us, but their own.
We have a healthcare system for our veterans that is broken. There are so many returning vets with traumatic injuries today that, just a few decades ago, would not have survived their wounds. It’s a testament to the immediate care received but says nothing about the long term.
I understand that the VA system is somewhat overwhelmed, but there’s been plenty of time to fix it as we’ve had hundreds of thousands of men and women deployed since 2001. It hasn’t been a priority and there’s a lot of blame to go around. Not just the previous administrations, but Congress as well.
It does seem that the current administration is placing some focus here but I know that repairing a decrepit bureaucracy won’t occur overnight. I have hope.
We have an obligation as a country to provide the best care for those that have sacrificed for the rest of us. We need to make sure that our government does more than pay lip service. All of us should be actively involved to ensure that promises are kept.
Every person reading this can become part of a huge lobby that will hold our government accountable.
I don’t think this is much to ask.