Since we have so very little else to celebrate as another year moves forward with no end in sight to war and its victims, I'm going to focus on the good reporting on this issue that is finally, finally, seeing the light of day. And I celebrate the fact today that rather than using this anniversary to glamorize and glorify the war, the media seem to have decided to use it to introduce this balooning problem at last to the public. This gives me soooo much hope...
This important article is so exhaustive and detailed, that it is impossible to do it justice in any way here; please just take the time to read it. And after you've finished, please contact The Oregonian and commend them for devoting resources and taking great care in presenting this topic to their readership. You might also wish to contact the reporters, Julie Sullivan and Torsten Kjellstrand, to offer your personal thanks.
New England Cable News (NECN) is set to air a new documentary, Hidden Wounds, detailing the struggle of three local soldiers who've returned from Iraq with posttraumatic stress. If you're in the viewing area, you can catch it today at 10:00AM and 7:00PM. NECN will re-broadcast the special throughout the week [times/dates - scroll down]. For those not in the viewing area, the Boston Globe has an article out today and online clips are available.
The pop of a firecracker in a parking lot was all it took to send Nate Fick back to Iraq. That sound had him ducking behind the nearest car, grabbing for the pistol holstered on his thigh. Except his gun wasn't there. The former Marine was in Maryland with his sister and it was July Fourth, about a month after his return from Iraq. "I stood up a few seconds later, and said, 'Man, I'm out of my mind,'" Fick said in an interview this week. ...Anderson's and Lucey's experiences are briefly outlined before returning to Fick's story:
"Hidden Wounds," which debuts Sunday at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., tells the stories of Fick, currently a Harvard graduate student, Sgt. Russell Anderson, a longtime military man from Norton, and Jeff Lucey, a Marine who killed himself several months after returning to Belchertown. "These are three very different men," said Iris Adler, the film's producer and writer. "In spite of their differences, they all come home with post-traumatic stress disorder."
About one in six soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, according to studies cited in the documentary. The soldiers in the film believe that the percentage is much higher, but a stigma prevents others from admitting the struggle. "There's a lot more people out there than you think like me," Anderson, 55, said this week.
Fick, a Dartmouth graduate, joined the military to test himself and because he believed members of the privileged class should serve. In Iraq, he led a reconnaissance unit to Baghdad. Carnage became commonplace, and the pressure of making life and death decisions was relentless. When he returned home, Fick fell into deep depression. He found relief writing about his experiences, an exercise that became the book, "One Bullet Away."Don't forget to view the online clips if you're outside of the viewing area; and take a moment to thank NECN for their efforts at getting more to understand the plight of those troops coping with PTSD.
Fick said he hoped telling his story makes post-traumatic stress disorder real to people who don't know a soldier. People returning from Iraq are going to have serious problems, he said, and society needs ensure they get proper care, unlike so many Vietnam veterans. "Their problems have endured the 30-40 years since they came back," Fick said. "I don't want to see that repeated."
The New York Daily News presents an op-ed piece written by Dr. Gene Bolles, "chief of neurosurgery from November 2001 to February 2004 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, America's tertiary hospital serving our troops." As we arrive at 20,000+ wounded and 2,600 killed in action, the physician remembers those he's crossed paths with these past three years.
With the third anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom upon us, I am reminded of war's horrors, but also of the unparalleled sacrifice and loyalty of the men and women who serve this nation. During my time at Landstuhl, I evaluated hundreds of men and women. As a civilian not in their chain of command, the servicemen and women often confided to me that they were living in constant fear as witnesses to the agony of war -- the smell and sounds of death; seeing their buddies mutilated, along with Iraqi men, women and children.He tells the story of a 19-year old woman who came to him with severe back injuries; and he remembers the 21-year old man who'd lost two limbs, yet was still more worried about his buddies.
Most of those who are killed or wounded are under the age of 22. Those who are seriously injured (some with only one extremity remaining, some blinded and severely disfigured) frequently express a strong desire to go back to their units to complete their tour of duty and protect their buddies.
They are, every one of them, true heroes. And it is these heroes who pay the many human costs of war. In addition to post-traumatic stress disorder (it is estimated that 35% are afflicted), there is traumatic brain injury (often disabling, unrecognized and untreated), chronic pain and spinal damage, blindness and the questionable effects of undepleted uranium. Instances of amputation in the Iraq War are reportedly double previous rates, and while the military medical care is the best in the world, there are still long-term problems with disability and chronic pain often requiring multiple surgeries.Something to consider, isn't it?
I have the highest regard for the medical care offered by the Veterans Administration and our military. But there are many problems associated with the bureaucracy, which often stymies the efficiency of the delivery of care, which is paramount. After soldiers are discharged, they are dependent on our Veterans Administration, an overloaded and underfunded system. This system designates only 30 minutes per month for treatment of post-traumatic stress, and can take from six months to a year to provide treatment in various specialty clinics.
Unfortunately, our global war on terror is only going to add to the number of veterans suffering from war-related injuries. Our esteemed athletes in the NBA, NFL and NCAA receive medical care and appropriate testing almost immediately upon being injured. Our soldiers and their families deserve no less. If we can spend $7 billion to $10 billion dollars a month on a war, we must also afford to help rebuild lives impacted by this war.
The Chicago Tribune presents an interview with Ed Klama, a social worker and PTSD program director at Hines VA Hospital at Maywood, IL. From WWII veterans dealing with late-stage PTSD to recently returned troops from OEF and OIF, the discussion deals with war's consequences and the role good counseling plays in Quelling War's Aftershocks. To accompany the print piece, they have the full interview audio available online. If you'd like to thank the Chicago Tribune for their PTSD coverage, please do.
Also Appearing Today
- Meehan: Help our heroes once they return home, MetroWest Daily News [Framingham, MA]
- National Guard sheds its "weekend warrior" image and works to adjust to its changing mission, The Times Union [Albany, NY]
- Veterans' group provides friendship to returning soldiers, Courier-Post [Cherry Hill, NJ]
- The ties that bind -- Marines' fellowship forged in battle, The North County Times [Escondido, CA]
- Building a new reality, Los Angeles Daily News
- Profile: David Roby, The Cincinnati Enquirer
- The Iraq effect, The Observer [UK]
- Some troops headed back to Iraq are mentally ill, San Diego Union Tribune
- The trauma of war Experts fear cases of veterans with PTSD could skyrocket, The Kalamazoo Gazette