Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Short Editorial

I try to keep the subject matter on the blog strictly to fishing and tackle history. After all, there are many, many places to go to discuss politics, or movies, or anything under the sun. We are serious here about chronicling our fishing history and heritage.

However, I am going to break with this tradition this once to address an issue that has recently been thrust into my life in a big way -- our neglect of returning war veterans.

Some of you know by day I teach history at the local university. I have had many students who have become combat veterans, and have had just as many who have returned from combat to take their place in my class among their fellow students. The juxtaposition of, for example, being in a firefight in Kandahar and studying for finals could not be more stark.

One of the problems facing so many returning veterans is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a bewildering complex thing that is not unique to returning veterans, but which afflicts many veterans who have seen combat.

The problem is that far too many returning veterans are not getting the medical and psychological help you need. Did you know that some studies suggest one out of ever four homeless person in this nation is a U.S. military veteran? It is believed that the number of homeless veterans has decreased by 1/3 in the past two years from 90,000 to 60,000.

THIS NUMBER IS STILL NOWHERE NEAR ACCEPTABLE.

It does not even take into account the huge number of veterans who badly need psychological services but have had to wait interminably long for the help they need. The Department of Veterans Affairs has admitted they are woefully understaffed for psychological services and have hired 1600 new staff. But in these days of looming budget cuts, it is always such things as the VA that seem to be on the chopping block.

So what can you do to help? Well, first of all you can write your Congressman and tell him that you think that our returning veterans deserve access to the best medical and psychological services available. Second, you can read up on the issue at places like Helping Our Veterans and other similar web sites. Third, you can do a lot by simply raising awareness of the fact that we are not doing enough for our returning veterans.

Watching a military veteran in the wake of a PTSD episode is a crushing thing; I know this personally. We ask our armed services to risk the ultimate sacrifice on a daily basis; we put them in harm's way; sometimes we send them home with deep physical and psychological wounds. And when they return, how can we deny them the services they so richly earned on the battlefield defending the freedoms most of us take for granted?

We can't. It's as simple as that. Do your part; it will make your day, and it might just help to change a life.

-- Dr. Todd






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