U.S. soldiers need more than thanks, prayers
The Kansas City Star
On a red-eye flight this week returning from an education conference in Portland, Ore., I sat next to a woman with Veterans Affairs.
She was returning to her home in North Carolina and couldn’t sleep. We talked about the veterans of the war in Afghanistan and the now-ended war in Iraq.
Our soldiers and returning veterans are under greater pressure and are coming home with more medical, mental and psychological problems because of the length of the wars and the number of tours they are doing. She explained that in the Vietnam War, people in the military generally did one tour of duty.
Today’s veterans might do eight. People in the military reserves and national guard are mostly unprepared for the loss of jobs when they get home and the physical and mental health issues they’ll face. All returning are personally affected by the carnage they’ve seen and what they have had to inflict on other human beings in the name of war.
The stress is being borne at home by families and showing itself in high divorce and suicide rates. My seat-mate praised the Obama administration for dedicating more resources and programs to aid veterans than the previous administration did — even though the wars started under President George W. Bush.
It’s a sobering thought that kept me awake on that red-eye flight home.
But more has to be done to better serve the men and women who daily are asked to make great sacrifices for the nation. The question is whether the next president and the new, likely Republican controlled House and Senate will be willing to do it.