A swell of sadness washed over me as I drove my warrior son to the airport in the pre-dawn hours. He was on his way to a warrior event and we began talking about some of the changes we had noticed in the support and care of our wounded veterans and their families lately.
It was with relief that our country was no longer in active combat. It was because we had been at this business of healing the wounds of war for 20 years, that we made another observation.
We began to discuss the shifts we saw occurring. It was hard to discern if it was a result of a world wide pandemic or post war amnesia, but the energy and effort needed to maintain and sustain good care and support seemed to be waning.
Post war amnesia is that very human habit to put unpleasant experiences of war behind us. The further you get away from the event, the less visceral charge and urgency it has, and it’s easy to get lulled into complacency and even stagnation.
This seems to be a human condition. Whether it is the pain we might suffer from a physical illness, financial hardship or significant loss or disruption of any kind, once the crest of a need is peaked, the slow and insidious decline to grow from lessons learned seem to move in the same direction.
After dropping him off at the airport, I reflected on the many young veterans lives that had been lost on the home front and who we personally knew and loved.
I wondered what it would have been like for them, if after the wars that preceded them, folks whose business it was to sustain and prepare for future ones did so with not only weapons and strategy, but in healing that would surely need to come for those who returned. I wondered what it would have been like for those we lost, if after they returned home, they had a state-of-the-art re-entry/transition program that really addressed the seen and unseen wounds they sustained in their service to us all.
I shook my head. I suspected that at least half those we knew who had died since coming home might still be alive. I knew there was a better and more honoring way to welcome them home and that NOW is the time to develop and set those processes in motion.
A disquieting question lingered, “Will we choose this particular time in history to actually learn from it and create meaningful change?”
What changes would you make to our current system of care for veterans and their families?