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With the wind-down of the war in Iraq and the continuing efforts in Afghanistan, and given the fact that because this is an all volunteer military force today, the men and women who have served and who are still serving have all done more than one tour in the war zones over the past ten years.
The other fact is that the injuries and stresses of war are real and must be paid attention to. Many of those who have come home with varying levels of PTSD as a result of these multiple tours are finding it difficult to get the medical and psychological care that they need at our Veterans Administration Hospitals.
Recent television news reports and several newsprint articles, as well as website articles, have gone into some depth about this problem. On the local NBC station last night I heard that the average wait to be seen at the many VA Hospitals and clinics across the nation is 40 days. That’s just for an initial evaluation. It was said that the average wait time at the VA Hospital in Spokane is 80 days. This is unacceptable. These men and women have given so much in the service of this nation during the decade of these wars and they deserve not just our attention and care, but the very best attention and care we can give them.
In serving those who have so unselfishly served all of us we do them and ourselves a great favor. In healing their temporary physical and psychological wounds that they have incurred in carrying out their duties in a time of war, we enable them to become productive, creative, committed working and taxpaying members of everyday society once again.
History has shown that those who have served their country in times of war have come home to become major contributors to the health and well-being of the nation at all levels. They bring maturity, skill, and self-discipline to everything they do. They have proven their capacities to think clearly in difficult situations, to carry out responsibilities with efficiency and effect. They know the values of loyalty and service. Their courage has been tested and found solid and true.
Within that story on the news there was also this. The Veterans Administration has recently hired 1,900 new mental health professionals. This is a movement in the right direction. But it took pressure to make it respond to this great need. It makes sense that we should give the best care possible to our returning veterans now, so that they can, in good health, take up their roles as fathers, mothers, and employees sooner rather than later.
We need to keep encouraging the Veterans Administration to fulfill its duties toward the veterans of these latest wars and to those of our previous wars. There is no greater love than to lay one’s life on the line for others. They have done this for us. It is now our turn to do the same for them.