Phoenix, this has been a problem for decades.
This post isn't about PTSD, but it reflects the same attitude about the quality of life of our vets.
Dys wrote about this event years ago, so forgive me if I get a few details wrong. Understandably, Dys doesn’t want to write it again and bring back those memories.
Dys and his buddy (Charlie) were out in the jungle, watching for VC. Suddenly, his Charlie’s leg was shot off and Dys got the left over shrapnel in his left foot and ankle. They both went to the hospital, Charlie, of course, was sent back to the States.
Dys looked up his friend when he got home and they started to spend lots of time camping in the mountains. Soon, they decided to build a small cabin.
They had to sleep outdoors while the building was going up. Before going to bed, Charlie took off the prosthesis given to him at a VA hospital and propped it up against the wall of the cabin.
That night, there were some strange sounds. Charlie woke immediately and, without thinking, shot his prosthesis. That part of the story sounds a little funny—at first.
Charlie’s reaction was typical of vets just returned from Vietnam, They were primed to shoot first, a primal, life saving instinct. He returned to the VA and explained what had happened and asked for a replacement leg. He was denied with the explanation that he wasn’t due for a new prosthesis for another year. Only officers got thorough medical service whenever they needed it.
Charlie tried to return to his welding job, but was told that he could not use a stool, that he would have to stand all day. He lost his job.
Charlie looked for other jobs to no success. His wife left with their daughter. About all he could to was gardening.
Not long afterward, he shot his brains out.
This isn’t an unusual story. The news is full of stories of vets being left out in the cold with very few resources.
As for PTSD, the fact that it isn’t taken seriously is beyond belief. When I mentioned it to a friend, she said that there were those who thought it wasn’t a legitimate disorder. All it takes to change that attitude is to know a vet who’s nightmare’s are devastating, as real as the original event. The memories bring back the sounds, smells, tastes, pain, grief and guilt of what happened on the battleground. It can be cured, but it takes time and therapy.
Like everything else, the costs are substantial and the grunts, in the VA’s view, don’t seem to require as much treatment as the officers. I would love to ask them(“ why?”).