Bloody battlefields, hidden adversaries, skull-rattling bombs all follow soldiers home when they transition from living in constant danger to the supposed comfort of civilian life.
Vivid memories are not the only things they take with them: scars, burns, abnormal gaits, and missing limbs are among the many reminders of what our veterans had to endure in order to ensure the safety and ignorance of American citizens.
According to Veterans Inc., the number of disabled veterans is increasing; more than 20,000 veterans were wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans come home only to find themselves in another battle. Many of them have trouble holding a job simply because their disabilities become obstacles to overcome; the result is homeless veterans.
However, their disabilities aren’t limited to physical injuries—they include mental ones as well; many veterans are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric disorder that, in its simplest terms, causes individuals to relive traumatic experiences time and time again.
In an interview with Eileen Park from WNCN news, Bobby Price, a veteran remembers what triggered his PTSD.
“I was in Taji with my platoon,” he said, “One of my best friends, a guy I was mentoring, got blown out. My platoon sergeant, because of my experience, had me sanitize his equipment, just wash it down, get all the blood off of it.”
PTSD is something that can be treated, but getting help in itself can be a problem.
Veterans who depended on Veterans Health Administration facilities for medical treatment, whether it’s for PTSD therapy or regular medical check-ups were put on long waiting lists in the year of 2014. Many veterans died waiting.
According to CNN news, a 71-year-old Navy veteran Thomas Breen went to a VA health facility because he had heavy bleeding in his urine. He was examined and was sent home to wait.
“They wrote on his chart that it was urgent,” Sally told CNN, Thomas’s daughter in law. He was supposed to see a doctor in a week. Instead Thomas had to wait for months to schedule an appointment. During his wait, he died of stage 4 bladder cancer—weeks before the VA health facility called with the appointment.
Our veterans deserve better.
Yet, rarely do we stop and think of them. We may occasionally have our heartstrings pulled by big screen movies such as Unbroken and American Sniper that highlight the struggles of the American soldier. But once out of the movie theater and out on the road, we tend to forget the men and women who witnessed hell on earth for the safety of the American people.