Recent news reports claim that veterans comprise 25% of the homeless in the United States. That is 1 in 4 of the homeless. These surviving war heroes who risked life and limb - often sacrificing limbs, health and quality of life - are unable to integrate back into regular society for a variety of reasons.
I would imagine that each story is different, yet essentially the same. The horrors of war take their toll. Many veterans suffer with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which was called shell shock during World War I and combat fatigue during WW II.
Military returning from the Vietman war were heckled and spat on. There were no thanks for a job well done, although the veterans were not responsible for the debacle the federal government created in the way the war was fought or the withdrawing of our troops. The accomplishments of their military service were swept under the rug, as if the veterans should be ashamed of following orders and giving their all. It is only in recent years that Vietnam veterans have been publicly acknowledged and thanked for their sacrifices and service.
It took approximately ten years for the lives of some Vietnam vets to disintegrate into homelessness. There is the possibility the same will happen to a number of military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq war duty.
Some of these men and women are still living in a war zone through memories and flashbacks. Anger, spousal abuse, depression and even suicide are potential fallouts with veterans. We need to consider what we - the parents, siblings, children, friends, neighbors and co-workers - can do to help these veterans to heal from their physical and mental war wounds and to return to life outside a war zone.
We honor all our veterans for their courage and selfless service. They are the backbone of our country's freedom.