To The Daily Sun,
What did you do this weekend? Among other things, I went hiking with my dog, had breakfast at Kitchen Cravings with family members, flirted with a woman via text, did some yard work, and ate ice cream while watching reruns of "Bones" on Netflix. The biggest gifts of the weekend, and life as a United States citizen in general, is that I had the freedom to choose what I wanted to do and who I wanted to do it with. So what did you choose to do? How did you exercise your right of freedom, your right of choice?
Interestingly, as a veteran, I often forget the price of these freedoms. What is the cost of my ability to choose to eat ice cream at 4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon and zone out to Netflix? Most people are pleasantly ignorant to the fact that since the inception of the United States and the drafting of those documents that give us freedom to choose, that young men and women have put their lives on the line to secure and keep those rights. The U.S. has its faults, but look abroad and you might come to the same conclusion that despite some shortcomings, we have it pretty good here in America.
Since 9/11, more than 2 million men and women have served in the military. Near 80 percent of those have served in a combat zone or actually been in combat. They fight for our security. They fight for our rights. They fight for the security and rights of the oppressed and disadvantaged throughout the world. It's noble, but there is a cost.
About 50 percent of those who saw combat come home with psychical, emotional, or psychological injuries. Combat trauma is epidemic among many of our returning military personnel and veterans, including all past wars/conflicts. The Veterans Administration (VA) is overwhelmed, understaffed, and underfunded and in areas like the Lakes Region, it is difficult for veterans to find and access the help they need. Often, veterans live with their scars of combat for up to 10 years prior to getting the help they need.
Think of this: This weekend while you were enjoying your liberties, each night there were approximately 50,000 homeless veterans sleeping on the streets. Sixty prior service members committed suicide. Dozens went to jail as a result of a negative reaction to post-traumatic stress disorder. More veterans are unemployed than the general segment of the population. And where is the help they need?
Many programs exist at the community level to assist veterans. These programs focus on psycho-social issues as well as problems with reintegration. Emotional coping strategies and life skills training is vital for returning veterans.
One such program is Camp Resilience, run by the all-veteran, non-profit organization The Patriot Resilient Leader Institute (www.PRIL.us) in Gilford. Camp Resilience provides psycho-social and educational retreat programs for combat veterans. This month, camp Resilience already ran a program at Gunstock Mountain Resort with 16 participating veterans, and later this month a four-day Veteran Equine Retreat is scheduled for June 24-29.
How can you help? If you know a veteran or are a veteran that would benefit from these programs, please contact PRLI for more information (603-520-3989). You can also help support veterans by sponsoring a veteran to participate in the program or donating to PRLI.
To donate by mail, send checks to: The Patriot Resilient Leader Institute c/o Bank of New Hampshire 62 Pleasant St., Laconia, NH 03246. Your donation to this 501(c)(3) non-profit is tax deductible.
So, thinking to next weekend and what you will be doing with your free time and free choice ... while you are thinking about that, there are United States citizens in a war zone right now, putting their lives on the line. There are homeless veterans. Today alone another 20 will take their own lives. While they are all dealing with the horrors of war, we are here, comfortable. Many of those who fight this week will be emotionally and psychically scared veterans in the coming months, joining the ranks of already suffering veterans. Help support those who defended the ideals of freedom and democracy.
Dave Ferruolo, MSW
Psychotherapy & Behavioral Health
Health First Family Care
- Category: Letters
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