First and foremost, Veterans are NOT victims of PTSD. PTSD is a battle scar earned and "paid for in-full" by soldiers in their honorable service of our country. PTSD is a price they willingly pay for doing what WE ask them to do.
Second, the effects of PTSD are as real as they are devastating. I want you to think about this: 22 U.S. Military Veterans commit suicide each and every day. To put this number is perspective, every 3 months more U.S. Veterans commit suicide than the total number of soldiers killed in action during our 20 year war in Afghanistan. Put another way, when you reread this blog 1 year from now, I want you to remember that more U.S. Veterans will have committed suicide than the total number of soldiers killed in action during the Afghan and Iraq Wars combined... and the same will be true the year after that and the year after that.
Third, I want you to ask yourself, "Why is it that the most detrimental effects of PTSD don't kick in until our soldiers have been discharged from the military and return home?" Again, ask yourself, "What is it that holds them together while they are in the military?" and more importantly "What is it that they leave behind when they come home that makes it so difficult for them to truly and completely come home?" For each and every one of our soldiers, the list of what they did, what they saw and what they left behind is different... But, there are 3 common denominators.
THE COMRADERY OF THOSE THAT TRULY KNOW YOU BECAUSE THEY HAVE SEEN WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN AND DONE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE. In contrast to being in the military, the civilian world is a lonely place where our Veterans are surrounded by people who, through no fault of their own, just can't possibly understand.
STRUCTURE. No matter where you are in the military hierarchy (Private, Sergeant, Captain, Major or General) you know exactly where you stand in the pecking order and what is expected of you. In stark contrast, the civilian world is the chaos of infinite possibilities and infinite choices.
A HIGHER PURPOSE. You cannot serve your country, be willing to die for your country, watch your friends die for their country and find meaning in a civilian world where your biggest concern is making your car payment on time so that you can keep your beloved 700+ FICO Score. After losing your closest friends in what you HAVE TO BELIEVE is an effort to make the world a better/safer place, you desperately need to find meaning in your new civilian life.
The V.A.s treatment regimens of "Pills" and "Talk Therapy" simply are not enough. They do NOT provide Veterans with the support of the unspoken comradery they need. They do NOT provide Veterans the structure they need. And, they do NOT help Veterans find a higher purpose....
We have to do better. We owe our Veterans much, much more.