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                                        This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

Truth Seeking Truth

Editors' Article

What About Our Veterans? Part (5)

Posted on September 10, 2021, by Michael Cavalier –  Editor

      In my last article, I brought up knowing an Afghanistan veteran. I talked about how people. even after reading the article, still don’t get it. They will also say that there are programs to help the veterans. Although that is true, are they working? Just because a car has a seat belt doesn’t mean there can’t be a fatality if in an accident, right? Dealing with veterans is a much more complex issue. Our veterans will always deserve our helping them cope and re-enter society. As Americans who have never served can not understand what our veterans may have seen, or went through in a war.

      PTSD is a hell of a thing to be diagnosed with. I want to share my experience with a veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD. What was amazing to me was the fact you would never know he suffered from PTSD. I can’t share his name out of respect for his family. I will say this though, he was a very soft-spoken man, who I liked the second I met him. He came to my home because we had two Siberian Huski’s which we needed to find one of them another home. The Huski we decided to relocate to another home was Dakota.

      When he came over to meet Dakota I met him outside and I was as honest as I could be with him as he was with me. He knew I met him outside and explained to him that when he met Dakota. If Dakota didn’t go around him or just acted as if he didn’t want anything to do with him, he wouldn’t be able to take Dakota with him. He understood that and agreed with me. I noticed he had another dog with him, which even now I don’t know what breed it was. He explained to me he was a veteran (Wouldn’t have guessed this being he looked so young) and suffered from PTSD, and the dog with him was a service dog.

      His service dog was so friendly. I was amazed at how softly he spoke. In my mind, I thought he would be kind of a rough man because of his PTSD. This disease affects each individual differently. He came inside and met my wife, and sat and started talking with us and Dakota was checking him out as well. Within a matter of a few minutes, Dakota presented himself to him. We didn’t train Dakota very well just yet. He knew to sit but was very hard-headed when it came to staying. I was shocked when Dakota presented himself to him and he asked Dakota to lay down. When Dakota responded to his command instantly I looked over at him and said, he’s yours.

      He looked over at us and had a nice smile and told us he wanted to make Dakota a service dog. I didn’t know a Huski can make a great service dog. He took him and we stayed in touch. He lived just down the road from us. I never went to his house because I wanted Dakota to get used to his new home. Then the unthinkable happened. My brother called me about a week and a half ago and told me the man I gave Dakota to committed suicide. I sat in shock. It hit home that I knew this soft-spoken man. He didn’t act differently than me except he spoke softly. I decided I would be a voice for our veterans. They are the backbone of this great nation.

      They suffer from the inside. Depression is a dangerous enemy to our veterans. They suffer in silence, which is hard for us to tell when they are hurting. Our veterans deserve a hell of a lot more than the government does for them. I can’t stand when I hear any Congress representative start mentioning our veterans. They only mention them when it is time for their re-election bid. Our veterans need our help to make sure they are well taken care of. We need to find a way to force term limits on our representatives. Maybe just maybe that way we can get them to do more for our veterans and not worry about running for re-election. Here are some more reasons we need to take better care of our veterans.

Stress from dangerous deployments

      With high levels of stress like those experienced by combat troops, veterans are more likely to abuse alcohol or suffer mental health issues. By taking advantage of programs that help vets manage their stress and get counseling—even if they don’t know they need it—veterans and their families can get on a path toward better health and happiness. All Americans should encourage veterans in their lives to take advantage of these services.

      Everyone needs to be proactive about helping veterans who have served our country find peace after returning home from war zones. The first step is getting comfortable talking about war-related stress. Ask your children what they hear at school about soldiers who come back from battle with mental problems. Ask them what you can do to make sure servicemen feel safe once they return stateside. If you notice any red flags in how your child responds, ask him more questions or contact his teacher or parent liaison to let them know there may be trouble ahead for some of their students. This conversation not only teaches kids empathy but also gives parents an opportunity to educate themselves about warning signs.

      Even if veteran suicide rates have declined overall, men still account for three out of four suicides among veterans. At least one study has found that nine out of 10 active duty service members believe other military members are more likely than civilians to consider suicide as a way out of emotional pain. There’s nothing wrong with worrying about whether all service members will come home alive; it’s part of loving someone enough to want to protect them even when they’re away from home. Experts say looking for suicidal thoughts or behavior (such as sleep deprivation) is helpful because people considering suicide often give hints that people close to them can pick up on–but knowing what signs to look for isn’t much good without knowing whom you should watch closely.

When parents return home from war

U.S Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that nearly 1 in 5 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans has post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD or shell shock.

      According to statistics from November 2013, there are 2 million service members who served during these wars; of these, more than 450,000 (or 21 percent) may suffer from PTSD. Among female soldiers who served in these conflicts, 23 percent have been diagnosed with PTSD. In April 2014, a study published by JAMA Psychiatry indicated that among Marines who served between 2001 and 2010, rates of alcohol use disorders were higher for those with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury compared with those without such an injury. More important still is addressing how even small numbers of service members struggling with combat trauma affect their families when they return home after military deployment.

Our Unsung Heroes

      Our veterans deserve praise, but ultimately they are looking for respect. The most powerful way to show them you care is to support them once they return home. As a society, we don’t seem to know what that looks like anymore. At best, some of us view soldiers as inconveniences or sources of charity; at worst, some see them as predators who deserve little more than scorn and condemnation. Our veterans deserve better than that—but first, they need to know it’s coming from us.

      For too long, veterans have been betrayed by their countrymen when they come home, especially when it comes to their financial wellbeing. It is important that we never stop doing all in our power to honor and assist those in service in their transition back into civilian life after years of serving our nation with distinction. They gave so much for us; now let’s do all we can for them in return. Let’s pledge not just one day each year, but every day through actions instead of words alone.

      To close, here’s an old saying: The love of one’s country marksman patriotism. But attachment to place is localism. Patriotism points us toward taking action on behalf of others – even if they may be different than ourselves – out of loyalty and duty. Localism directs our focus inward, away from concerns about others, and toward preserving what’s good for me here today, right now. If America wants to remain safe – both free and safe – then localism must always be checked by patriotism. So let us continue honoring our veterans each November 11th with gratitude for their sacrifices…and also with a resolution to carry forward their spirit throughout the rest of the year.

God Bless America, and God Save The Veterans

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