Wounded Warrior - Pain and Pride
Pain and pride go hand in hand for many of our wounded warriors. They are trained to endure pain and many are too proud to ask for help. They are after all, the brave men and women who have promised to protect and serve. Their stories vary but the common thread is their courage in the face of life-changing tragedy. They have protected us on far away places and we owe it to them to take care of them here at home.
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night because rough men are willing to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell
- The pain is invisible to all but those who know him. Only his family knows that he can’t sleep at night. Only those who love him see the blank stare that sometimes robs him of emotion. Only a few, a very few, see the tears. He is a warrior and in his world, warriors don’t cry.
- She was a nurse with dreams, before the IED took her legs. Her future was bright and back home, the love of her life waited for her to return. They had plans for a wedding, children, the house in the suburbs but the plans would wait until her tour was over. Neither of them ever talked about the “what ifs”. They were afraid to. Now, she stands on artificial limbs, looking in the mirror, alone. He just couldn’t handle it.
- As a squad leader, it was his job to keep his men calm while they dodged mortar, suicide bombs. And ground fire from insurgents. When the Humvee they were riding it exploded, he did his job and he did it well, even when his team leader was dying in front of him and he learned that a medivac chopper couldn’t land in the sand storm that was raging. He kept everyone calm until help arrived, never thinking about the pain in his own back. Marines don’t think about themselves that way. They take care of their men first. Back home, it wasn’t so easy. When his young daughter asked one too many questions, he lost it. In a fit of anger, he snapped the gear shift right off the console of his car. It was time to get help. The PTSD was taking him down.
These are not rare stories and they don’t scratch the surface of the pain of wounded warriors. Some have visible injuries; the kind that strangers can see and sympathy comes easily. But some have the invisible injury of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); the kind of wounds that only veterans and their families know about living with. They are all wounded warriors and they are all our responsibility.
Their medical care is provided through the Veteran’s Administration, but it is often slow; too slow. Any veteran who has sought care through the VA Medical system will tell you the system is difficult to navigate and getting lost in the system happens all too often. A recent report stated that there are about 391,127 pending disability claims that have long ago passed the Veterans Administration’s goal of processing claims within 125 days. Many are now in their second year of pending status.
Many of our brave men and women return from service broken and too worn out to know how to begin seeking help. We owe it to them to reach out and help but we need to educate ourselves on the resources that are available to our wounded warriors. The following table contains contact information for various services provided by the Veterans Administration. If you know a veteran or wounded warrior who needs help, call the appropriate number.
Veterans Administration Contacts
Benefits, General Information
Health care - find a local center
The Easy Way or the Right Way
How does one repay such bravery? How can we take away the pain? The easy way is to write a check to a charity that helps veterans, wouldn’t it? Even those words should remind us that our soldiers don’t take the easy way out when it comes to protecting us. There is no comfort in the jungle, where insects bite without warning and the nights are so cold and damp that one wonders if they will ever be warm again. There is no comfort in the desert, when summer winds blow the heat and sand against your face so hard that you hardly recognize yourself in the mirror. There is no comfort trying to sleep when you are too afraid to take our eyes off the darkness.
Where is the comfort in picking up the pieces of your buddy and putting them in a body bag? Is there comfort in sending the letter home to his wife? Was it easy to walk up to the door of her parents' home, to tell them she wasn’t coming home? No, it’s not easy. There are no easy way outs for the soldier who has given blood, sweat, and tears so that we can live, love, and laugh freely. We can take the easy way or the right way to give a little back.
The Right Way - Ways You Can Help
Donations are wonderful and there are many charities that do amazing things for our veterans who return with injuries visible and invisible. But sometimes the thing that is needed most most is real people doing real things to help them take the next step in recovery.
- Some may only need a good listener, someone who doesn’t need to talk but is willing to really listen.
- Some may need a ride until they can transport themselves again.
- Some may need help completing forms or writing a resume.
- Some may need help with household repairs or adapting the home to their disability.
- Some may need help communicating or with physical therapy.
- Some may just need a friend, someone to take them for a ride or for a walk.
- Some may enjoy a visit with your pet or your children.
The important thing is to do what you can with the resources and skills you have. There is nothing like human touch, warm smiles, and shared tears to help the healing begin.
If you have a little extra love to give away, consider a wounded warrior. You are needed and you can make a world of difference. Someone is waiting for you to reach out. Don’t keep them waiting. Help them replace the pain with pride.
Service Organizations Where You Can Help
- Thank a Wounded Warrior
Send a "thank you" to a wounded warrior through the Wounded Warriors Facebook page.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The US Department of Veterans Affairs provides patient care and federal benefits to veterans and their dependents. The home page for the Department of Veterans Affairs provides links to veterans benefits and services, as well as information and resou
- Wounded Warrior Project
Our missions is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history.
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America's service to veterans.
- The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is a part of the U.S. military health system. Specifically, it is the TBI operational component of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE)
© 2012 Linda Crist