We Must Never Forget
On Memorial Day, as is customary, Americans gathered to honor and memorialize our fallen heroes. Parades were held, solemn services took place in cemeteries and many simply enjoyed the long weekend. These are all-American events and a great time for us to enjoy friends and family. I pray that Americans took the time to think of those who have died while defending our freedoms. While folks celebrated, I hope they took a moment to think of those who suffer in silence from their military service.
These men and women will never be the same because of their combat experience. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a natural response to unnatural experiences. Thousands suffer with this debilitating disorder. Whether it is an eighty year old World War II Veteran or a twenty year old who has served in Afghanistan or Iraq, awareness and support of our bravest is crucial. Many afflicted veterans, both young and old, are homeless, incarcerated or living in institutions due to their inability to cope with their memories. Still, more have died from the need to ease their pain.
The assistance needed for these American Heroes is available but they are often too afflicted to seek their own treatment. Embarrassment and shame can cause them to hide or to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse is a very common way to dull the emotions that arise from combat experiences. However, this only compounds relationship problems, legal issues and deteriorating health.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a very common, yet invisible, condition of the most recent wars. These injuries make our veterans at high risk for impulsive and high-risk behaviors, substance abuse and failed relationships. Maladaptive behaviors or coping skills can appear quite “crazy” to the general population.
“Freedom is not Free” and “All gave some, some gave all”, are clichés we have seen when referring to fallen or injured soldiers. The sad truth is that these are not just sayings when it is your loved one that struggles every day.
Next time we celebrate a sunny Memorial Day weekend please try to remember the men and women who gave their all to preserve our freedoms. God bless America!
In Loving memory of: Brian David Robinson: 6/14/1984-2/15/2012
Newton Ray Robinson: 1/24/1946-9/19/2003