Is anyone listening to our veterans, our heroes who have survived the shock and awe of the war zone? Why is it that more and more of our war heroes feel the need to abdicate life in our society after surviving the war zone? Why can’t we get it right and provide the care they need?

There have been two world wars and those veterans returned to a heroes welcome: parades, open hands and open hearts, free schooling, invitations to speak at schools and public events. Then we had an unending series of wars that did not engage the world and did not result in anyone actually winning. When and how did it all degenerate to the place where now, if veterans don’t come home in a box, they come home with PTSD, to closed doors and isolation? Did we learn nothing from Forest Gump?  

Think about what they left behind in the war zone. They life behind their innocence, a close-knit family of comrades who listened to them and understood them. They came home to a fractured society; people who ask how you are but don’t want an answer. People who use cell phones and text messages to communicate without contact when the veterans greatest need is to be part of humanity. They came home to a society not interested in hearing stories of heroism, because out-of-control politicians, pop stars and  real-life TV have replaced real war heroes.

In the past our veterans hesitated to share their stories because of the unspeakable brutality they witnessed. Today the movie industry is vying over who can produce a greater horror than has ever been seen and bring it into our living rooms. Our youth fight battles with remote controls and are desensitized to violence and death.

Is there an answer? Our veterans do not need to be counselled one-on-one and then sent back to isolation at home. What they need is a local support group, where everyone in the circle is suffering from PTSD and can relate to what they are going through. They need caring groups that recognize the subtle signs of pending suicide. They need one on one sponsors who have been through the same living hell and learned how to deal with it. They need to be reminded again that their ‘Higher Power’ did not get left on the battle field.

They need someone who will listen to their cries for help and think ‘outside the box’. That person is not a politician or a rock star. The AA type of intervention worked, and is still working, for alcoholics. It’s time someone started PTSD anonymous.  God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the courage to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

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