All too often, we forget the true meaning of Memorial Day. The holiday is about so much more than moving from the spring into the summer – it is about giving thanks and appreciation to those who have given their lives in order to defend our country and right to freedom. It is too bad that we forget this and simply break out the beer and burgers out in the backyard with friends and family.
After returning from war, many veterans find themselves without work, lots of emotional issues, and often, homeless. This Memorial Day, I hope you took some time to take a look at how some of the very people who have fought for our country aren’t getting anything back.
It seems like more and more we’re hearing about our veterans moving home from Iraq or Afghanistan and actually living in their cars – or worse, out on the streets. So, how does something like this happen? War can be traumatic and can change you. Many of our young troops have come to this realization and have had difficulty transitioning back into society.
Explosions, insurgents, high desert temperatures, and stress all can change a person, we’re sure. Many troops fall into deep depressions and may not even eat – both while deployed but especially once they move home.
When a person moves home from war, they may have feelings of detachment and isolation. The people they come home to don’t understand where they have been unless they’ve been there themselves. As a reaction, many troops coming home distance themselves from their friends and family simply because they have forgotten how to interact in normal situations.
As a result, many troops begin to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. Moving into self-medication can be quite a dangerous scenario. Drugs and alcohol can cause a person to completely break from society, have the inability to maintain a job, and often therefore become homeless.
Unfortunately, while there is some post-war assistance for veterans, there may not be enough. If you’ve been watching the news or reading the papers lately, you know that this is already a pretty controversial topic. It almost seems that no one really wants to talk about our troops moving home to more problems, no jobs, and emotional stress.
The VA does have a certain number of programs available for vets, but many do not take advantage. Perhaps there isn’t enough awareness? If you know a vet that might need some help, point them in the right direction if you can.