As I read that news story from addicted.org, Veterans are struggling with addiction and mental health, (Revere Advocate, May 12), I needed to add my two cents to this important yet seemingly under-told story of what is happening in America. While remembering all those who sacrificed themselves for all of us with honors on Memorial Day, sometimes I think we have forgotten all those who served their country but came home wounded not only with physical wounds but those with invisible wounds. I had little idea of the growing toll of veterans who came home to their families alive but in deep emotional trouble. It is very sad to know that over 3.9 million veterans are battling on a new battlefield and the enemy is substance abuse disorder and various kinds of mental issues. Suicide also is increasing amongst our troubled veterans. In Massachusetts, there are over 300,000 veterans over half are 65 and over.
We really need to do better when it comes to early intervention. Many returning veterans end up with addiction and mental health issues. Much of it could be preventable if there was more and earlier access to help. Too many veterans are often afraid to seek help. They come home and often find it hard to resume pre-service activities. untreated trauma is too common for these former military veterans and too often gets overwhelmed. Many turn to self-medication like drugs and alcohol to cope with their broken lives.
I can’t tell you how many broken lives I continue to meet today. part of them came home but part of them never left the battlefield to only create new battlefields right here at home after all the shooting stopped. We as a society need to help those living agonizing lives. we must not judge them but help them. giving them a reason to win on their new battlefield of life.
As Veronica Rausin from addicted.org wrote in last week’s Revere Advocate, “It takes families and communities coming together to help our veteran population…While on Memorial Day, we honor those who lost their lives, we must continue to fight for those who are alive with us today.” America must never forget those who perished in battle for us and we should not forget those who have fallen behind and our priority must be to bring them home too from their ongoing battles they still face today.”