Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pain of a different sort

I know some vets, recent ones, and folks still dealing from Vietnam, Korea, even WWII- they are a breed apart in so many ways, have been through things I can't even imagine. And when I do try to imagine it, a big black hole seems to open up somewhere between my stomache and my heart-- and I feel overwhelmed. What we do to people in the name of nationalism, security, defense, peacekeeping and every other reason for war, what we do to the people... it is dark and painful and crazy.

Senator: VA lying about number of veteran suicides
By Les Blumenthal McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The Veterans Administration has lied about the number of veterans who've attempted suicide, a senator charged Wednesday, citing internal e-mails that put the number at 12,000 a year when the department was publicly saying it was fewer than 800.

"The suicide rate is a red-alarm bell to all of us," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Murray also said that the VA's mental health programs are being overwhelmed by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, even as the department tries to downplay the situation.
read the rest here.
The story goes on to talk about how a big part of the problem is that if the information is kept secret, the urgency for solutions will be diminshed.

I have these vets in my life. All of them show signs of ptsd. I worry for all of them. And a little discussed factor in our current quagmire in Iraq is that new wars open old wounds. It is not just the folks coming back from Iraq or Afghanastan now that are trying to deal.

Vets hear the war news we see and read everyday from a totally different place. A vulnerable place that leaves them dealing with their own anger and demons. And pile on to that the fact that we were lied to going into this war, and that they are not providing armor and supplies to our soldiers... it is a ptsd stimulous package for sure.

This post is just me fighting back my own black hole on these issues, and agonizing over those (at least) 11,200 unreported suicide attempts in a year. A huge challenge of our next administration is going to be to take care of our vets, to FULLY FUND every support program that they need. And we all need to be helping make that happen.

A recommendation, if you know any vets, tell them to get involved with the VFW. The folks I know have really found it comforting and liberating, though sometimes painful, to be able to talk to vets like them. And they help and understand each other in a million ways.