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Sunday, May 20, 2007

After We Fix the VA, Let's Set Our Sights on Building Community

Posted by PR Director at Soldiers Angels Network:

I am watching the growing furor over the shortcomings in the Veterans administration system and the fallout from Walter Reed Army Hospital with growing alarm. I am concerned that we are going to fix the crisis and forget the problem.

The problem is how to help warriors, and their families, successfully reintegrate back into our communities, and their homes, after combat. A portion of that problem is health care related. For a majority of combat vets, however, only a small part of their reintegration challenge has to do with health care for physical injuries. Behavioral and mental health are bigger issues. And for most, the biggest challenge is relational: rebuilding marriages, reconnecting with children, rejoining friends, rejoining the global economy, getting back to the communities of faith we left, etc.

The problem with focusing on the VA is we may well fix the VA only to convince ourselves that the reintegration of our combat veterans is a government program, not a community process. If we expect the government to take care of everything, we will have failed our combat veterans and their families as well as ourselves.

We have sent our precious men and women to war. The VA can't bring them home. Only we can. We have a moral obligation to insure that all of our combat veterans come all the way home to their families, their jobs, their schools and their communities.

A government program can't do that. A community can.

Major John Morris is a chaplain in the Minnesota Army National Guard. For more information about his and others' ground-breaking work on reintegrating returning soldiers, go to and look for the "Beyond the
Yellow Ribbon" link.

Food for great thought.

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