July 23, 2016
It seems as if we have gone backwards by 40 years on older veterans. When Vietnam veterans came home, no one wanted them around. After all they did to begin research on PTSD, no one wants to even talk about the simple fact they are the majority of the veterans committing suicide. How do we accept that? How can any nation claim the slogan "grateful" and allow this to go on?
So many are talking about the latest suicide report from the Department of Veterans Affairs putting the number of veterans committing suicide at 20 but too few are talking about this part.
There is continued evidence of high burden of suicide among middle-aged and older adult Veterans. In 2014, approximately 65% of all Veterans who died from suicide were aged 50 years or older
The last troops came home from Vietnam in 1975.
On May 15, 1975 American Marines stormed the beaches of a remote island in the Gulf of Thailand called Koh Tang to perform a rescue mission. However, due to intelligence failures and other factors, 41 American servicemembers died that day or were missing in what would be regarded as the last battle of the Vietnam War. At least three Marines were left behind to be executed by communist Khmer Rouge forces.
Gulf War veterans came home in 1991 and they are not part of the conversation. Troops were sent to Afghanistan in 2001 and into Iraq in 2003 but they are the only ones most seem to care about. Why?
A "grateful nation" remains grateful to all generations and does not forget them because there is not enough time to care about all of them. It does not accept false reports insinuating the only veterans we need to worry about are the ones who just came home. It does not dismiss the suffering of previous generations nor does it remain unconcerned for those who will face the same battle-borne price in the next generation.
A grateful nation honors all of them so that no war will begin without true necessity for the preservation of our freedom. It demands the best we can offer those we send and the best we can do for them when they come home.
We have failed four generations by forgetting them.
WWII veteran are among those still suffering with PTSD. Korean War veterans still suffer. Vietnam veterans still suffer. Gulf War veterans still suffer. All of them are among the highest rate of suicides but most OEF and OIF veterans do not know that. They simply assume it is all about them. When they discover the truth, they grieve and they wonder.
They wonder what will happen to them when they are older and forgotten about. They wonder why all these decades of veterans fighting for other veterans has produced the same deadly outcome. Then they wonder how we can drop almost 7 million veterans since 1999 and arrive at the same number reported by the VA on them taking their own lives.
The Forgotten Warrior Project looks like the same veterans were forgotten about all over again. There should be no reason left to wonder why younger veterans worry about what will happen when they are older and America has forgotten them as well.
It is never too late for veterans to heal. The question remains, "Are we up to the challenge of helping them or write them off as it is too late" to care about them?