becca w. Montana

Service Induced Mental Illness

Our veterans shouldn't have to live fearful, distressing lives. Lets bring more awareness to this issue.

Dear President of the United States,

Before you read, or rather skim, this letter, I want you to take a moment to reflect upon the original goals and ambitions of America. Before you glance at this letter and proceed to toss it into a pile of thousands of unheard pleas, I urge you to consider the hopes and dreams of our founding fathers. Take a moment to ponder the sacrifice that was made to get America where it is today. The sacrifice that was made by thousands of men who’s passion and longing for liberty and equality fueled their success in a war with those who tried to hold America back.

I invite you to contemplate the sacrifice that is being made for you now. The brave men and women who risk their lives, their futures, their freedom, so you can have yours. Those men and women who, despite having families and goals and desires for life, put those aside to ensure that you and I may sleep peacefully at night, knowing we’re protected and free.

Now consider how many of those men and women, with loved ones and dreams, have died for your benefit. Think about how many brave souls will die for you and for me. Contemplate how many men and women bear both physical and mental scarring because they fought for us. Those brave men and women have worlds of their own, they have favourite movies and songs and books. They have people at home who love them dearly and who pray every single day for their safe return. Those men and women have hometowns and nextdoor neighbors and lives. They have lives of their own and they give it all up for us, for our country. They give it all up so that we may also have all of those things.

We, as a country, take those people, our protectors, for granted. We assume that they will always be there because they always have been there. Yet we still neglect them, forsake them, and ignore their struggles. I am writing to you today in regards to the issue of service induced mental illness.

The military not only compromises one’s physical well-being, the military also puts an individual's mental well-being at risk as well. This is an issue that goes largely overlooked and is usually swept under the rug quietly. However, this is not something that should be ignored. According to RAND, at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. However, experts agree that that number is much higher. In addition to this, 50% of those who suffer from PTSD do not seek treatment, and of those who do seek treatment, only about half receive “minimally adequate treatment”.

Think about this for a second. These brave men and women served a gruelling tour in a foreign country in order to maintain some order in the world, and when they came home, they realized that the real “war” was actually just beginning. The war with their own minds. There is no running from this for our veterans, this is a lifelong burden that they must carry and all because they were brave enough to fight for our country. A common misconception is that their service ends after discharge, however, for these mentally scarred men and women, their service will never end.

Not only is service induced mental illness and trauma a significant problem now, but it will only continue to grow in severity. More and more veterans will be plagued with the burden of mental illness. And not enough is being done about it in the status quo. My only plea for you is that you bring some more recognition to this issue and help our veterans live in comfort after service. Destigmatize veteran mental illness! If the President of the United States is willing to come forward and talk about this issue, then others will be willing to do the same. Our veterans shouldn’t have to live in fear and discomfort. Do more to open up treatment opportunities for veterans. They need to know that there is quality help available for them. Please do not let the trend of ignorance continue. Shed some light upon this issue.

Our veterans shouldn’t have to live life scared and distressed. They shouldn’t have to feel like suicide is their only way out. Let’s help our veterans because they helped us.

Billings Public Library

TA - Billings, MT

TA - Billings, MT

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