Emotional isolation is one of the hallmarks of post-combat mental health
problems. The National Guard didn’t conduct follow-up mental health screening or
evaluations of the men in my husband’s company until they had been home for
almost eight months. Nearly a year later, in August of 2006, my husband was
informed of his results: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was obvious
that he was suffering, but when I brought it up, he parroted what the military
told him: “Give it time.”
Time wasn’t a panacea for Jeffrey Lucey, Doug Barber, or the dozens of
other Guard members and Reservists who have committed suicide after serving in
Iraq. Time hasn’t helped the hundreds of homeless Iraq War veterans wandering
lost in the streets of what military families are assured is a deeply grateful
nation. Time is most definitely not on our side.
Nor did time or isolation help soldiers and Veterans alike at Walter Reed and other military hospitals and home across the nation. As a matter of fact, we know they were neglected, shunned, and even turned away.
The blogosphere is a powerful tool in spreading the word for our Veterans.
With a media blackout in effect at Walter Reed and other hospitals across the nation, and soldiers being threatened if they come forward, and other military maneuvers in place to halt the flow of information, bloggers and alternative media sources are a great place for these issues to see the light of day.
It is the soldiers, their families, and the people of Iraq that pay the human costs. The tab so far: more than 3,000 dead U.S. troops, tens of thousands of wounded, over half a million Iraqi casualties, roughly 250,000 American servicemen and women struggling with PTSD, and almost 60,000 military marriages that have been broken by this war.
We must remain vigilant.