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Soldiers Returning Home March 11, 2010

Posted by tackettmedia in politics, sustainability.
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I’m a soldier’s wife.

During my husband’s deployment this past year, I have been educating myself about the status of mind I can expect him to be in upon his return from Iraq.

My husband has been back in the United States for about a month now and as expected, there are some emotional issues and sleep problems he is dealing with.

It is not hard for soldiers to return back home to their families. Ours is a stable situation. We’re both entering middle age and he has an officer status. Officers are less affected by PTSD than younger, enlisted soldiers. Still, it is not easy to re-integrate.

Having said that, I want everybody to think about how multiple deployments will affect our society in the long term. I cannot imaging how young soldiers  in their early 20s who have been doing foot patrol and have endured several tours overseas are dealing with the stress. We all are hearing reports about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, sleep disorders, and worse. But not many people talk about the sky-rocketing divorce rate.

These young people return back home to be faced with mental distress and a broken family. They are barely grown ups.

Why, I ask, is it not possible for the U.S. military to ensure that each returning soldier goes through six months of counseling?

It will not help every one, but it is a start and it is certainly better than giving them lectures for two weeks and teaching them how to drive on U.S. roads again. We are facing a crisis in this country. The poverty rates in our cities are high. Homelessness is on the rise. And now we’re conveniently forgetting about our returning soldiers. Yes, we lament and discuss, but we don’t know what to do.

The military has options and opportunities to overcome the stigma that lets soldiers shy away from seeking out the help they need. Young wives feel helpless and rather leave with their children than succumb to the additional burden of dealing with a husband who seems emotionally detached from them. These young families are left with nothing, facing financial instability, which in turn will in the long term cost us as a society.

Even for people who are dealing relatively well with the stress and adjustments a deployment brings, it can’t hurt to ensure that everyone undergoes some form of life skill treatment. Cost could be an issue. But if we cannot afford taking care of our soldiers, then how and why can we afford a war and the rebuilding of another nation?

It is up to us to start the discussion. Please join me, call on your congressional representatives and your senators. Keep bringing these issues to the forefront.

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