American citizens in McHenry County and across the country observed Veterans Day on Monday.
The day was spent saluting those who fought for our country. It also was an opportunity for Americans to recommit themselves to providing care and support for young military veterans from wars of the 21st century.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a disability that agencies from the Veterans Administration on down have been trying to do more to treat. We applaud those efforts, because of the large numbers of veterans that could greatly benefit from them.
According to VA statistics, as of 2012, 2.5 million Americans had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 1.6 million of them had transitioned to veteran status.
More than 270,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan had been seen by the VA health system for potentially having post-traumatic stress disorder. The agency has awarded disability benefits to more than 150,000 of them.
A huge number of ex-military continue to suffer the mental toll of serving their country.
It’s particularly sad when veterans with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder become so despondent that they take their own lives.
Thankfully, much more is known now about this serious mental ailment, which in past wars was known as “shell shock.” Its sufferers were not viewed with much sympathy, as painfully evidenced by Gen. George Patton’s disrespectful treatment of shell-shocked soldiers during World War II.
Other groups have joined the VA in reaching out to veterans with PTSD.
TLS Veterans will host an introduction to iRest meditation at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Veterans and Family Services Drop-in Center, 5330 Elm St., McHenry.
The meditation practice is used at more than 30 VA and military facilities across the country. It tries to help with recovery efforts in active-duty military personnel, veterans and families of service members suffering from PTSD.
The goal of iRest is to offer men and women serving in the military and veterans a simple tool for dealing with symptoms and issues they face while actively serving or after being discharged from service.
The event in McHenry was made possible through grant money, and is open to veterans, family members of service members, and health-care providers. To register, call 815-322-2620.
Efforts such as these help to supplement the care provided through the VA.
Veterans risked their lives to protect their fellow citizens. We can never do enough to thank them, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. Supporting better treatment for PTSD is one way for the public to repay its debt to veterans.