We as a country just got done celebrating Veteran’s Day, but most people do not truly realize the sacrifices made by our soldiers. Each day 18 of our soldiers will die. Their deaths will not be in combat, they will also not be because of old age, or due to complications of physical injuries endured. No, these soldiers will die as a result of their own hands because of the silent and devastating wounds that many soldiers have.
Statistics have proven that on average in our country, 18 veterans will commit suicide. More than 12,000 veterans have at least 1 suicide attempt each year. Those with more than 1 suicide attempt in their past will continue to try to end the pain that they are forced to live with until they succeed.
It is often stated that more than 100,000 veterans are homeless; walking the streets we live on calling cots in various homeless shelters across the country, home. Many will live in allies using boxes as shelter, or will find shelter at a friend’s home for awhile before moving on; some even sleep under bridges. These veterans will lose their final battle amidst American streets.
Because of the emotional wounds that veterans are facing that often go unnoticed such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, there are many veterans that are finding themselves committing crimes and getting arrested for things such as drunk driving and domestic violence. These criminal acts may go completely against these soldiers’ normal character and behavior, but will occur as a result of the combat stress they face.
These honored soldiers have laid down their own lives to protect our country, and unfortunately many soldiers will end up alone simply because their families cannot tolerate the stress of it all anymore. The problem is, many of these families are completely unaware as to the extent these “silent wounds” have on soldiers. Because they do not fully grasp the severity of the situation they are unable to effectively and properly help and soldiers will end up struggling with these wounds alone.
Presently in our country, many businesses offer services free to veterans such as a free car wash, free food, or other things. Many towns will have parades for their local soldiers returning home, but each day, 18 veterans will not be able to participate and experience these things because of suicide. Even today, 18 soldiers will soon have to be buried because they took their own life because they were unable to deal with their wounds that others did not know existed.
Many people are familiar with the term PTSD, but do not fully understand how much it can destroy a soldier’s life. PTSD is a psychological disorder that affects many soldiers who experienced very tragic events while serving in combat. Many soldiers who actually participated in the combat and survive will go home bearing wounds that can affect them for years or even decades after the war is over.
Unfortunately most people think that PTSD is the only mental illness that soldiers face because it is the most publicized. However, many more issues can arise as a result of war. In a study conducted in June of this year, General Psychiatry was able to conclude that 1 in every 10 veterans develops some sort of mental problem such as depression, violent behavior, or drug and alcohol abuse. The study was also able to conclude that depression or PTSD severely impaired the functioning of up to 14% of these veterans.
PTSD is alone extremely disabling as a mental illness but can even lead veterans to develop physical illness after years of living with PTSD according to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center located in Washington, DC. This year alone, it was reported that 54% of veterans living with PTSD also had what is known as sleep apnea and are at higher risk for developing dementia in old age.
Therefore, it is important for everyone to remember that veterans’ wounds are not always visible and these invisible wounds will capture the lives of 18 soldiers today and everyday until more can be done to help the mental state of our soldiers.
T. Woods. 2010. Recognizing the Silent Wounds of Soldiers.