Monday is Veteran’s Day in the United States.
It is a day to honor former and active duty military members, who have sacrificed much to serve our country.
On this national holiday, many people use this time to visit veteran memorials and grave sites, thank their friends and family members for their service, and engage in good deeds for military members.
I make it my mission to comment and educate on the mental health issues that are facing veterans today.
Tucked away in the middle of Section A, I find the weekly Sunday U.S. War Casualties statistics.
As of 10 a.m. this past Friday, there are 6,776 deaths attributed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and a staggering 51,700 physically wounded.
Even more veterans come back from these wars with severe and “invisible” mental wounds.
Wounded on the Inside
A VA report from earlier this year revealed that an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide each day in the US.
More live with these invisible scars on daily basis, struggling to adjust to life after tragedy and loss.
According to NAMI, over 100,000 combat veterans have sought help for mental illness since the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001.
Almost one-half of these cases are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Lack of Support
Wounded combat veterans often do not receive the support they need.
Veterans Affairs has been highly criticized for the long wait times for mental health evaluations.
In addition, about 13% of the adult homeless population is veterans, many of them suffering from mental health disorders, alcohol and/or substance abuse disorders, or co-occurring disorders. There are over 62,000 estimated homeless veterans on any given night.
The lack of assistance that these American heroes receive is astounding. Many wounded veterans face issues with lack of affordable housing, lack of livable income, shortage of access to healthcare, issues that compound with a shortage of familial and communal support.
Hope and Resources
There are many public and private organizations doing their part to help veterans with invisible wounds. See my resource section for veterans below; there are many others out there nationwide and in your local community.
I come from a long line of military family members—Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
I participated in NJROTC in high school, where I lived and breathed Navy knowledge, discipline, leadership, and sense of community and country.
Moreover, I live with mental illness.
In high school, I dreamed of being in the Navy, but with the advent of my illnesses, my path changed.
I am now in the place to advocate for these people with wounds that need to heal, not only out of respect but also out of necessity.
To current and past military members—thank you for persevering with courage in a civilian society that cannot possibly understand the effect that combat has on hundreds of thousands.
Let us continue to fight for those that fought for us.
It is my hope that Veterans Day allows us, every year, to continue to advocate for invisible wounds.
Please post your comments below.
Resources for Veterans:
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