ISSUES ABOUT OUR AMERICAN VETERANS,
by Roque Pizarro, Columnist, Buffalo Latino Village
2019 July Issue:
PTSD – A NIGHTMARE FOR OUR AMERICAN VETERANS
Post-traumatic Stress disorder, known as PTSD, is a mental health disorder that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event like combat, a natural disaster, or a sexual assault. According to the National Center on PTSD, 12% to 15% of veterans a year, experience PTSD from the Gulf and Viet Nam wars. From speaking to other veterans, these stats don’t list many veterans who do not seek help to address their PTSD. One of the reasons for not reporting it is personal embarrassment of having a mental problem. Other reasons listed, are, a long waiting time to be considered for rendered benefits, the stigma of having a mental health problem, and finally, being looked at as weak.
A quote from one vet, “I was awarded a silver star for bravery, you’re not going to call me a coward if somebody like me has PTSD? Then anybody can have it.”
Also, even a high ranked Military General retired after admitting he had PTSD.
In my research for this article, I also found a colleague with PTSD. He told me the military makes it difficult to get diagnosed for PTSD for two reasons. One is Combat related, which is when you are affected directly from combat; the other is assessing what the combat has done to soldiers from in-direct combat. An example is experiencing a jeep blow up right before you. On occasions, the military personnel question the vet’s sincerity about PTSD, therefore, some don’t “waste their time” to report it.
The veteran nightmare and trauma experience are unwelcome memories. The reality or experience of combat triggers or sets into motion PTSD. Any minor thing can set PTSD, like noises or war related events.
PTSD is a severe mental disorder, and it must be taken more seriously. If not addressed in a timely fashion, PTSD will tear away all emotional numbness if one doesn’t learn to unlock or control the combat experience.
If handled properly by the military, suicide would go down. About twenty-five veterans commit suicide every day, many are turned down for observation, or they face a bureaucratic wall to get the service and benefits they so rightly deserve.
It is a damn share how the United States of America treat its veterans, soldiers that went over sea to defend you and me. They come home and are treated like third-class citizens. They get a “thank you” with an empty salute. They are deprived of their deserving benefits. They paid their dues!
The veterans are left alone, alone to battle with the nightmare of living with a disorder they will struggle with the rest of their life. The country they went to defend, has divorced themselves from this problem. We need to do more. The suicide rate continue to grow. More to come.
2019 June Issue:
PURPOSE OF MEMORIAL DAY, AND OUR COUNTRY’S RESPONSE TO OUR VETERANS
I am the new editor for Latino Veteran affairs, addressing related issues, as well as your new Latino Veterans columnist. I’ve been a long-time resident of Buffalo, NY, and a member of the Buffalo Latino Veterans. I write this column on their behalf, and on behalf of all Puerto Rican/Latino Veterans. I hope I do you guys proud. Here is my column:
The country recently celebrated the Memorial Day, honoring our fallen military heroes and those who have served and are serving our country today. Unfortunately – to many – Memorial Day is just another day off, a long weekend to enjoy a family barbecue. On the bright spot, we do have some communities that do honor our fallen heroes with a parade down main street. I wish there were more!
As a Vietnam era veteran, I can remember when it was not popular to be serving in the military. It was a time where our country was in real turmoil. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. The civil rights and anti-war movement were at its highest peak. Military members or soldiers were called baby killers and warmongers.
Whenever I went on leave, I made it a point to use a student ID card to fly as a student, and in that way, I didn’t have to wear my military uniform. Looking back, this was not an honorable decision, since both my older brothers served one year in Nam.
Many of our soldiers who were discharged back to society, coming back home, were discharged without any mental preparation to deal with the after-effects of participating in a war where they experienced or watched their buddies get severely maimed or die in their arms. Many resorted to drugs and alcohol. Many were also diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome known as PTSD.
Today our Veterans are greeted warmly and appreciated for their service. At the Yankees games, at the bottom of the 7th inning, “God bless America” is played and a Veteran from various wars is brought down onto the field and recognized for their service to their country.
PTSD, drug and alcohol problems are now addressed with less of a stigma than in the past. Mental health issues are being taken seriously as the suicide rate of our Veterans have reached an all-time high. Joining the national guard was kind of frowned upon and labeled weekend warriors in the past. Presently the guard serves a valuable role as they are also deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas of the world to provide military support. I have two nephews who have joined both the army and marines and will probably be deployed soon.
Taking the time to honor and recognize our fallen military heroes, and to acknowledge our Veterans and present military members, is important, It is what gave us our freedom – things that we take for granted. Coming from a family that has served in the Army, Marines, and Air force, Memorial Day is special to me and my family. As It should be to all Americans.