June 30, 2008 – I recently met a man at a soup kitchen in Hartford. He was quite pleasant, conversational, and appeared to be in good health. I learned he was an Iraqi war veteran. He went on to tell me he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and described some of the disturbing symptoms he experiences on a regular basis. I asked him if the military was helping him. He laughed and said the Veterans Administration and the military are doing nothing for him and that he is getting help through private doctors.
This man was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He faced death on a daily basis for two years. He deserves the best medical care our country can provide.
Yet our VA health care system is overwhelmed by the sheer number of veterans seeking treatment as a result of our war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. A report last year by the Rand Corp. found that one in five U.S. soldiers returning home from Iraq suffer from PTSD or depression, yet only half of these are getting treatment.
I am very troubled by this dishonor we are imposing on the men and women fighting for our country. As we near the next presidential election, please consider voicing support for our troops, whether you support the war or not. Young men and women need our help and support.