Other Voices: Troops need our support after fighting
Support our troops. We understood the importance of that premise and took action. Regardless of whether or not we support the reason why we’re in Iraq, we do support our women and men who are there fighting.
Now there is another vital way that our troops need our support. They need support upon their return home. Many come home with a missing leg or with mental disorders, digestive diseases or nervous system disorders. They seek medical help for recovery and rehab and end up facing a closed door.
Once they return home, the government is badly failing at taking care of the problems our soldiers have acquired while fighting a cause that our government sent them. The government seems to turn its back on the needs of our troops once they’ve served their duty.
Are these soldiers only seen as disposable resources? Our tax dollars are paying billions for fighting the war; isn’t it time that we request that a substantial percentage of those dollars goes to rehabilitating and healing our troops upon their return?
The lack of caring for soldiers who have returned home is nothing new. Following the Gulf War, many of the veterans had medical problems that could have been caused by toxic gases used on them during their tour. Whether that was the cause, the fact was they had physiological problems that they did not have before doing duty and the government turned its back on medical help. It closed its eyes to a prominent problem with the Gulf War veterans.
Then there’s the sorry story of how we treated our Vietnam troops. Back then we did not differentiate between the people fighting the war and the reasons we were in Vietnam. We lumped both together and our level of disgust and discontent were aimed at both. Men who were drafted who didn’t personally want to fight did so to serve our country. They were the victims of our venom.
In some parades upon the end of the war, these soldiers were spit upon by the parade watchers, just one small example of our treatment to them. Once the war ended, we were only relieved with the fact. We took no care in helping the thousands of mentally and physically wounded men that returned to the home they loved but were not loved in return.
I know in the Bay Area, a large percentage of the homeless are Vietnam veterans. They were psychologically wounded in the war, neglected when they returned and still neglected to this day. Can we, as a society, open that closed door after 30 years to help these injured souls?
With the war in Iraq, at least we have learned to differentiate the troops from the reasons we’re there. Now let us learn that our troops need our support just as much after they return home. Awareness of their needs is a first step, to know that so many need help rehabilitating either psychologically or physically.
With that awareness, let us then take action. On the spiritual level, let us pray for the veterans and that they will have doors opened to them and their needs. Second, on the governmental level, let us contact our representatives in Congress, communicating allotment of monies to services for our soldiers. Third, let us personally donate money to bonafide charities whose programs are solely to help injured troops. Here are three: Fisher House Foundation (fisherhouse.org), Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (fallenheroesfund.org) and Armed Services YMCA (asymca.org).
Our troops have done their part. Now let us do ours.
Cindy Sloan lives in Rough and Ready.
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