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What Will We Do?

Anybody old  enough to remember some of the issues that cropped up with the veterans returning from the War in Vietnam should be concerned as to what is in store for the nation and the veterans when there is a large scale return from Iraq. 
 
The situation with Vietnam vets suffering from PTSD was bad enough... But those folks were mostly triggered by jungle warfare remembrances... Our Iraq vets will be in for triggering by every day city occurances.  Some of us will suffer as a consequence.
 
Not only are we looking at 20,000 wounded vets... But 10,000 of them were wounded badly enough to leave them severely handicapped. In fact... Most of that group would not have would not have survived their injuries in former conflicts.  This is going to require a level of counseling care that quite frankly... does not exist in sufficient quantity to handle those kinds and quantities of serious issues.  And here we're just talking about the injured... Men and women that have lost limbs and faculties that will cause them great stress when trying to adapt back into civilian life... The trauma that will have to be dealt with by themselves and their families and caregivers would be tremendously difficult to deal with even under the best of circumstances. What to do about thousand and thousands of people that will fall through the cracks and are trained in intensive urban warfare?
 
What percentage of the 160,000+ troops that will have been engaged in Iraq by the time this thing is over... will suffer from PTSD?  I'm no psychologist... but I've known a lot of Vietnam vets and it's been my experience that the majority of those that I've come in contact with suffer from at least some level of PTSD.  Most of the good folks that I know of... have successfully fought their demons... not without great cost to some... But others have had varying degrees of failure.. With some losing out big time... We're talking jail, drugs, violence, and in at least two cases... murder.  In almot all of the instances.. Domestic violence has come into play.
 
We'll have people walking and rolling around that will be tremendously angry that they are left alone to deal with the injuries that have so devastated their lives. It's not that we will mean to drop them through the cracks... It will simply happen due to the underfunding and underpreparation that is taking place now.
But nontheless... It will happen.... in many more cases than is safe for us to ignore now while we can head it off.  PTSD is a terrible demon... Ask former senator Max Cleland ... a triple amputee, thanks to North Vietnam, how many times he has had to go back into therapy for depression.  Better yet... Ask him how much the reports coming out of Iraq have affected him decades after his actual trauma occured... This is a former Senator folks... This man is priveledged to recieve some of the best medical care on earth.  He is an anomoly.  Fewer than 1 in 10 will recieve the level of care that the good senator gets... And they likely won't get that high level of care for the duration that the ex senator is entitled to.
 
We're not talking about a few isolated incidents of a hostage taking or a guy in a tower... We're looking at massive numbers of domestic violence situations.  We're looking at thousands and thousands of traumatic brain injuries ...many of which will result in loss of inhibition and violent outbursts.  And should some of these people snap... they will not be easily taken down.  They have been trained in, and experienced urban warfare on an unprecidented scale.  Some of  these people are equivalent to your town's S.W.A.T. teams in training and capabilities.  A determined individual that is out of his or her mind with stress, grief, PTSD or depression; could do a lot of damage in a short time in an urban setting.  Or a big suburban mall... Or any crowded situation that sets them off. 
 
We who are here at home now... Who have the voices and maybe the pull... Need to start agitating and advocating for funding and staffing to support our returning troops whether or not you support the war in Iraq.  This is a matter of self preservation; as well as the morally right thing to do.  This is something that Americans of all political stripes can... and should, agree upon.        

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