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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Veterans Feeling Alienated, Unsupported

Heartbreaking column by Bob Kerr from The Providence Journal:

He hears about the people who volunteer to go back to Iraq for second and third tours. He thinks he knows why. 'It's a sign of PTSD ... That's the last place life made sense. Here, they don't fit in. They're not part of anything.' ...

He left Iraq after nine hard months. 'We got back and nobody met us at the plane in Baltimore. I was carrying the bags of guys who had been sent home before us, and on the flight to Columbus, Ga., they wanted to charge us extra for the bags of the wounded. We ended up renting a U-Haul to drive it down.' At Fort Benning, there was no real welcome either. 'It's part of the PTSD problem,' he said. 'What I did didn't matter.' He took a day to go home and visit his children in another state and was berated for it by a superior officer.

So it happens again, only worse this time. Remember how we weren't going to repeat the mistake, how we were going to make sure that those coming home from Iraq were not met with the same cold, even scornful, rejection that awaited returning Vietnam veterans?

Well, don't look now but the PTSD clinics at veterans' hospitals are filling up with people who are coming home to find that their war isn't even on the far edge of awareness for many Americans. They go through the hell of it and see the carnage and then come home to a "ho-hum, where ya been?" reaction. They've darn near died and had friends who did and not a lot of people seem to care.

This is unacceptable, America. And you know it. What will you do to change it? Will you do anything to change it?

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