As I read the sad news about the Fort Hood shooting, I look at it from the lens of how the military still does not consider certain internal injuries which can affect a veterans state of mind, as something critical to treat.
I remember just before my daughter was born around 2010, I was driving on my way from my Uncle’s Jorge’s home near the Outer Banks on the east coast of North Carolina towards the Raleigh airport, and I was listening to NPR. One of the topics being discussed was how commanders were denying the purple heart for those injured in combat with no visible injuries.
As I drove and heard the multiple stories of soldiers who were denied the Purple Heart, even though their injury would affect them for the rest of their lives, it really broke my heart. I have been around enough veterans having served in the military myself, to understand that many of the most horrific experiences veterans keep are those memories from traumatic situations.
Fast Forward and Guidelines have been changed
Apparently the military has clarified what an injury is to include certain brain injuries experienced during combat.
Second Shooting in Fort Hood
Last night I contacted a few friends who live in Killeen, TX just outside of Fort Hood to make sure they where ok. At that moment I received information that the shooter was apparently originally from Guayanilla, the town next door to my hometown of Ponce.
This immediately made me think of the many (especially folks here on the Island) that will make remarks of the fact that the soldier was allegedly from Puerto Rico. Many will focus on his nationality instead of looking at the bigger problem which is the fact that every veteran no matter what background, ethnicity, or nationality might need more help than what they are being offered.
We need to take better care of our veterans
Many like the press blame the combat veteran. Some like me think of what crossed soldiers mind when he decided to take those actions. I can very easily put the blame on how poorly the Military deals with its injured veterans.
I don’t know the story of Ivan Lopez and I wish someone would have cared enough to help him get out of that terrible state which put him and other service members at risk.
I can get angry at Ivan who ended his life for reasons he could only understand or I can share a bit of my thoughts and shine a light one more time on how our combat veterans are sometimes forgotten.
Talking about a Difficult Subject
We have lost more veterans lives outside of combat in the past years due to suicide than any other threat. My good friend Joseph Harrell acted in and produced a movie named, Happy New Year, which shines a light on the biggest problem the U.S. has with its veterans.
A few days ago I saw this video by Dr. Mike Haynie , Executive Director of Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, where he shares some interesting facts on the issues our veterans are facing and the obvious lack of support for them. Take the 12 minutes and it will truly change the way you see the topic.
Helping Our Homeless Veterans
I look at my friend Mark Horvath who works directly with keeping our homeless veterans off the streets and getting them into housing and I admire him for what he does. Mark is a good friend and every time I talk with him I see his dedication and passion with huge hurdles he has to overcome.
Before we Jump to Conclusions
So before we start jumping to conclusions, look at how the Military’s own system puts their own at risk. The U.S. Military and Government rather keep on moving forward leaving those behind who have given their best.
My condolences to the families of the other service members that were affected. My respect to each service member who goes out to combat and risks his life to realize he was probably more at risk back home than in a combat zone.
Do our veterans deserve to end up on the streets? Should our veterans feel that the last resort is taking someone’s life or their own?
You can do something about it
Let’s take this opportunity to help those creating awareness take the time to either rent or buy the movie, Happy New Year, and share it with others.
Make a donation to Mark Hovarth’s efforts so he can continue helping those veterans who have been left behind. Instead of just grieving because of another tragedy, let’s take some action and take care of our veterans.
Are people really supporting the troops?