Troops Leaving Iraq but Face Uncertain Future at Home
The troops are coming home from the war that seemed like it would never end. It has been a long time coming since the beginning of the war in Iraq, dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom. This war has affected so many Americans, especially if you had a family member or friend serving in the Armed Forces. I have read countless tragic stories, and had many conversations with men and women who have served in this bloody and deadly war. There has been 4,408 casualties and over 30,000 Americans wounded, not including those that do not have physical wounds, but are coming home with deep emotional wounds. Our men and women of the military have sacrificed so much for the sake of protecting our freedom. Making sure that our families stay safe from people that want to cause harm to us. The question is what are our men and women of the military coming home to?
Many of our soldiers will reunite with their families after months, sometimes years of separation. Children will see their parents again or maybe for the first time. Wives and husbands will be reunited with all of the tears and fanfare they most certainly deserve. After all of the fanfare is over, what are they facing? Many of our soldiers will return to their lives and begin to put the pieces back together, but many will not be able to salvage the pieces of their lives because of the scars left behind from the war.
A major issue facing our returning troops is post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. PTSD and depression affects 8.5% to 14% of soldiers returning from Iraq. Some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are:
- Recurrent re-experiencing the trauma
- Having a phobia of people, places that remind the sufferer of the trauma
- sleep problems, trouble concentrating, irritability, anger, blackouts, increased tendency and reaction to be being startled
PTSD and depression symptoms can lead to alcoholism, substance abuse and aggressive behaviors causing even further problems for our returning soldiers. These conditions, if not treated, can result in the inability to be able find employment, trouble maintaining relationships, violence and suicide.
The ability to find gainful employment is an issue for many of us who have not served in the military. This will be an additional challenge for our returning soldiers. With the unemployment rate in this country higher than it has been in years, finding employment will be a daunting task. In President Obama's speech given December 14, 2011, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the President said he has "worked with Congress to pass a tax credit so that companies have an incentive to hire vets. And Michelle has worked with the private sector to get commitments to create 100,000 jobs for those who've served." This is definitely a positive step to helping our soldiers begin to pull their lives back together. The need for more access to housing, counseling and employment is what will be needed to aid our returning soldiers. A large number of our veterans end up homeless due to lack of medical and psychological assistance needed to get them on the right track.
We owe our troops tremendous gratitude for their sacrifice and service to our country. If you own a company or have the ability to provide services of some kind that you think would could help a veteran, please contact the veteran organization of your choice and offer your services. Whatever we can do to make our soldiers return home a little easier, is the least we can do for the brave men and women who served our country fearlessly and with great dignity.
JAMA and Archives Journals (2010, June 7). About one-tenth of soldiers returning from Iraq may be impaired by mental health problems,
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