Helping our Heroes

December 7, 2009
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There are many men and women who have risked their lives to defend our country and constitutional rights by fighting in our nation’s wars. Many of these brave soldiers experience psychological issues prior to returning home from these horrific theaters of combat. Conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are very common in soldiers. However very little is done to help provide the assistance that veterans require to overcome. We as a community and as a country must do much more to accommodate the heroes who have fought for this country and our civil liberties.

When many of the soldiers first return home from Iraq, they appear to be fine and not needing therapy; however it has been proven that soldiers were far more likely to show mental health problems after being screened three to six months after returning home from combat. As many as 20 percent of active-duty soldiers and as many as 40 percent of army reservists needing treatment. Soldiers tend to attempt to avoid reporting symptoms of psychological problems while serving fearing they will be discharged which is often a humiliating experience. The Armed Forces and government do very little to intervene and treat these soldiers. Veteran healthcare benefits are available to soldiers returning home for war yet the free health care only lasts for two years after the date of active military separation. Psychological problems may last a person there whole lifetime, two years of healthcare simply isn’t enough. Therapy expenses are frequently very high and veterans can’t afford them. Friends and family often try to assist their loved ones but are not trained healthcare professionals. Forty-three percent of soldiers who commit suicide do so after they have returned home from active duty. This is a devastating statistic; the men and women who have risked their lives and made it through these gruesome wars returning home safely only to take their own lives due to some treatable psychological issue. These soldiers are left in the dark with nowhere to turn.

Our veterans need a better support system available to rely on when they return home. They should not have to suffer through psychological issues by themselves. Neither the government nor the Armed Forces does enough to protect our nation’s heroes. This is unacceptable and must be changed immediately.

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