She had the kind of hair any little girl would envy. In school, she was known by her hair. Even the teachers paid her compliments. So it was not surprising when she was questioned about its hurried and unskilled alteration. Moreover as a child does, she gave a child's answer. "I got gum in it. My dad cut it. He told me not to chew gum in bed. He was mad. He has PTSD."
The following day, after being notified of by a teacher of potential child abuse, Family Protective Services and the police showed up at the little girl's home to investigate.
A few months prior, he was in a combat zone. Now faced with the abrupt assimilation demanded by an estranged family life had become a series of emotional peaks and valleys. His young daughter's impromptu hair cut was not an overreaction. Had it been another child with another father, at another time, no report would have been filed.
He was a US combat veteran.
Family Protective Services took immediate custody of the little girl and her two siblings. They had determined that neither parent---mom was taking anti-anxiety medication to cope with the dad's peaks and valleys---of working through this veteran's transition period without government help. No one was injured. No one was harmed. It was all about perception.
The family's fate is now in the hands of judges and bureaucracies. I wonder if a Peace Corps volunteer returning from years in Rwanda would have been so easily judged.
The problem with war is America has convenient memories. We have experienced this before yet the lessons, left to politicians and clinicians to interpret, often go unlearned. PTSD is part of human culture. Combat veterans as a subset of America---by the nature of their prior violent environment---struggle with its background noise at a higher rate than the American population. It is understandable. They deserve our help, not our overreactions or our government's heavy hand.
A 2014 Congressional Research Service Study titled, "A Guide to Us Military Casualty Statistics: Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom" paints a vivid picture of the challenges our nation faces if we strive to bring our veterans back to the American community. The statistical analysis contained in this report bares striking similarities to those performed by Rand Corporation and the "National Vietnam Veterans' Re-adjustment Study."
For me, the most telling common realities provided these all of reports are:
- 50% of veterans with PTSD do not seek treatment.
- Out of the half that seek treatment, only half of them get "minimally adequate" treatment.
For those who look to our government to legislate solutions for our veteran community, I would remind you that the government has been studying PTSD since Vietnam. As of the writing of this article, it has all but ignored the constructive rehabilitation needs of our veterans struggling from this battlefield injury.
And so has the American public.
I have spent a considerable amount of time getting to know many of our veterans, both young and old. Like the rest of us, they have their good days and bad days; in other words, days that communication and patience are second nature, and days when it is difficult to find.
I have those days.
Sometimes, after spending a day listening to politicians speak out of their asses and cast their demented egotistical pearls to their American subjects, I can be less than cordial to those around me. I may even react in a rigid, less-than-caring way to my children's momentary lapses. I have even been known to fold some ignorant wind bag over the back of a chair to explain the consequences of their continued public obnoxiousness. Sometimes, I would rather pet my dog in a quiet room then answer the phone.
I do not like myself when I lose control of reason. The world is full of people like me. You may be one of them. And I am not a veteran.
Yesterday in an article published here at Freedom Outpost, Ron Paul suggested that PTSD is a "mental illness" and that it "destroyed the minds of so many of our service members." I would like to suggest that extended stays in legislative combat can also have similar injurious effects on the mind. The same could be said for rape, automobile accidents, getting bit by a dog, losing a loved one to untimely death, aborting a pregnancy or being stigmatized by a former politician careless with his armchair diagnosis.
Although we have been recently awakened to the challenges that face our veteran re-assimilation struggles, American communities have been failing our veterans for decades. We have relinquished our responsibility to steward our government's legislative actions. Our communities---once united behind providing for our veterans---have grown apart and argumentative.
Lives are being lost, and families destroyed because "we the people" demand much for ourselves and sacrifice little when called upon.
In my day, a clergymen or a seasoned veteran would have paid a visit to the home of the little girl with the beautiful hair, not the government. Neighbors would have awkwardly extended themselves to this veteran family without fear or apprehension. A message would have been sent calmly and clearly, "Welcome home, you have done so much for me and mine, now, what can I do for you?"
The Department of Veterans Affairs has informed America that they have minimal plans to address Post Traumatic Stress Injury. They have set up PTSD crisis hot lines and dispensed the unreliable and risky pills, but they have no real plans only expensive and empty goals.
Congress has no grand legislative solutions; they never do. Ask a Vietnam Veteran about that. More studies proving the same points will be ordered, but the conclusions will not change. Waiting is always Congress' preferred solution.
When my father came home after his service in WW II, he and my mother, married and started a family. American would soon experience the greatest expansion of industry and jobs in our nation's history. He worked the construction trades, put his combat experiences in a desk drawer in the basement, bought a home, paid for his and his family's healthcare, food, phone and his children's education, and helped build his community without one damn dime of government money. All on a tradesmen's paycheck with the love and support of a loyal wife, friends and neighbors with common purpose.
Today, our millennial soldiers come home to a country they do not recognize and a citizenry, too immersed in self-interests and selfishness, to see that we solve problems in America, not the government. Private citizens and sectors create the lasting solutions that are needed for our veterans and their families, not the government.
American communities can, if willing, once again, provide the answer. Our community of churches, synagogues, social clubs and lodges can come together with existing private charities and foundations with proven successful models for VA overhaul and veteran outreach. For the love of God, the government cannot manage to keep to a budget or plan for the future, it's up to us to solve this problem.
If we don't, I promise you we will see more suicides and family casualties accumulate every year. No study ever solved a problem and no problem was ever solved by study alone; it takes community action. They came together for us in our time of need, now it's our turn.
For those who wish to contact reputable organizations providing proven resources and models Veteran success look to these folks:
- http://veteranwarriors1.com/ Contact: Lauren Price
- http://www.militarywithptsd.com Contact: Shawn Gourley
- http://www.savehomelessveterans.org Contact: Martin Pool
I can be contacted for additional information through the Editor at Freedomoutpost.com.Don't forget to Like Freedom Outpost on Facebook, Google Plus, & Twitter. You can also get Freedom Outpost delivered to your Amazon Kindle device here.