A wonderful example of what can be done as part of your Summer 2011 shared happiness challenge!
Veterans Administration officials rising rates of suicide, incarceration, homelessness and unemployment. Small wonder a U.S. appellate court recently ordered complete overhaul of VA mental health treatment.
For July 4th, every American can immediately ease veterans’ emotional burdens, reducing the terrible isolation of those returning from war with devastating internal conflicts.
The good news: action is simple but remarkably effective. Every civilian can listen to a veteran’s story. Many veterans I’ve interviewed have said, “The night I told my story was my first good night’s sleep since the war.”
Americans are woefully unschooled about war’s lingering effects. Fewer than 1 percent served in the military. Veterans talk little to non-soldiers about war, and few civilians volunteer to listen. Consequently, few of us really understand war’s enduring impact.
Let each civilian talk to a service member or veteran. Tell them that as Americans whose country prosecuted a war they were sent to fight, we take responsibility for hearing what they have gone through and how it affects them, that we wish to understand but not judge. Everyone can seek opportunities to tell them we witness their suffering, we would no doubt have responded the same, and above all, we do not believe they are mentally ill because of the trauma of war.
Full article by Paula J. Caplan on: http://www.ajc.com/opinion/this-july-fourth-listen-995546.html