“Support the Military.” I’ve lost track of how often that phrase is thrown around — it’s easily used. With simple acts, such as wearing red on Fridays or placing a green light in your outdoor house light, it’s easy for Americans to feel that they are doing something. But support is a verb. And given the magnitude of the service our military members and their family members have made, shouldn’t the magnitude of support by the American people to those veterans, their families, and those left behind be just as great?
America, you can do better.
You have moved on with your lives. Meanwhile, generations of Americans are being left in a terrible place by these wars. Many thought we learned our lessons from the war in Vietnam. But we seem to have learned from some mistakes of that era, only to commit new ones with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And again we have left our veterans to suffer. But this time we have magnified the cost of this war with its impact on the family members of those veterans.
We are not a country that yet has found a way to fully understand the mental ramifications of war. We throw around “PTSD.” But we are immune to what it means, how it impacts the individual suffering and the family.
The people living with that individual also are greatly impacted.
In a mass media way, we don’t pay attention to the number of family members being destroyed by war. We don’t track publicly the number of spouses that are abused by those veterans struggling to deal with after-effects of what they have seen and done.
What their country has asked them to do.
We don’t pay any attention to the exponentially escalating number of children of veterans in desperate need of mental healthcare. The number of children in dire need of medication and counseling for the effects of their parents’ service (to this nation). In the Vietnam era, we gave exemptions to service for those who had children. These days, not only do we not give exemptions, we send parents on multiple deployments. Military children are strong and resilient. But we have severely over-estimated their ability to mentally cope with the stress and anxiety multiple deployments cause them.
While we have a Veterans’ Affairs Department, there is no department for the veteran’s family members. They are the ones holding things together. Those caregivers are in desperate need of help for themselves and their families. The rates of mental health issues, domestic violence and suicide have dramatically risen for both veterans and their family members. There have been massive increases in the prescriptions of anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety drugs by both service members and their family members, including children.
These are children we’re talking about.
So, if you’re one of the people that were chanting “we got him” when Hussein was captured a few years ago, and you haven’t served a day in the military, please serve the military now. They’re hurting and they need your support.
They need you to write your congressperson and ask what he or she is doing to support veterans and their families. Be willing to reach into your wallet to fund veterans programs with your tax dollars. Keep the healthcare promises this country made when as young people they signed up with their bodies and minds on the line. I know no one likes to hear that, but these people are in desperate need of your support. They answered the call. They did the brave, life-threatening work. Surely America, you can meet that dedication.
You can call, write, and badger your congressperson to step it up and take care of these brave souls and their families. Because they can’t. These veterans and their caregivers are too busy trying to take care of themselves and their families. They are trying to hold it together. To get through the day and to the next day.
They need you, the people who stayed in their own worlds, went to work and went about their lives as if the war over there was just a show on TV. It’s time to show up for them. They did for you.
It’s your turn, America.