Enlisting in our nations military are some of the bravest and strongest individuals among us. These men and women commit to the purpose to serve and protect our country, making personal sacrifices most of us cannot relate to or even begin to imagine. 1.6 million civilians have become veterans in nearly a decade since the war in Iraq began. While this number is astounding, many U.S. citizens don’t know a soldier, don’t think about the war and don’t recognize how irresponsible it is for us not to support our troops and their families.
In honor of Memorial Day please consider the over 6,000 soldiers who have been killed in combat. They leave behind parents, spouses, children and friends whose grief of a senseless loss will have infinite effects throughout their lives. In addition to combat deaths, statistics regarding suicide rates of soldiers should be enough to alert the military and the government to discontinue their efforts and re-evaluate how to gain peace. Many soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have to cope with the effects of post traumatic stress related to the devastation they have witnessed overseas. Troops experience real life nightmares and exist in a perpetual state of alert anxiety to survive. Many soldiers returning have to rediscover their place within their family and in society, some uprooted again for redeployment. Many soldiers struggle to find employment in our suffering economy, some statistics suggest unemployment for veterans is higher than 27%. Many soldiers, 45% of veterans, need some form of services related compensation do to injury or trauma. And many soldiers need more mental health services then the military is prepared to support, some give up seeking help because of the amount of paperwork required by the VA. In the last two years suicide rates of soldiers has surpassed the combat death rate.
In honor of Memorial Day please consider the over $4 trillion which has been spent related to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s difficult to say what we have or have not accomplished with these funds because of the war efforts without being hyper critical of our government or cynical about their reports of accomplishments. What’s not difficult to see is the injustice that has been served to our troops and their families because of the sacrifices they have given in honor of our country. The physical and emotional pain these men and women will continue to deal with for the rest of their lives and the lack of support to them once their service is over is outrageous. Even if you are an individual who doesn’t know a soldier and doesn’t think about the war on a regular basis, you are effected. Every American feels the rippling effects of the senseless violence these brave men and women have witnessed. We all feel the rippling effects from their families who stress at the absence of their loved ones. We all feel the rippling effects from the hatred that perpetuates war.
In honor of Memorial Day please consider what you can do to help a soldier or help a soldier’s family. And to honor those who have been lost in combat or from suicide – stand to put an end to the war and bring our brave men and women home.