• Chris Hondros/Getty

    PTSD

    Fight on the Home Front

    What happens when Americans return from war? David Finkel’s book answers that question with disturbing and painful detail. Veteran Matt Gallagher reflects.

    According to a report (PDF) released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year, an estimated 22 veterans committed suicide in America each day in 2010. U.S. Army soldier suicides outnumbered combat-related deaths in 2012. And 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America survey respondents have considered taking their own life.

    Those are the numbers, and numbers have a way of numbing us to the complexities that make up everyday life. What drives these battle-hardened men and women to the breaking point? Why do some people return home from combat ready and able to transition back to civilian life, while others cannot, despite their best efforts? How does suicide in the ranks continue to mystify the much-vaunted and ever-powerful U.S. military?

    Permalink
  • Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool/AP

    PTSD

    Why PTSD Deserves The Purple Heart

    Healing invisible wounds. We can honor veterans with PTSD by awarding them the Purple Heart writes Benjamin Tupper.

    Criteria for the Purple Heart medal seems straightforward: “any action against an enemy of the United States” in which a service member is “wounded or killed” merits the award. But in practice granting of the award is a contentious issue among combat veterans and a charged field for both the wounded and those who judge the wounds.

    In Afghanistan, I knew soldiers who earned Purple Hearts for very minor wounds sustained in combat. Bruises and small lacerations that required no stitches were technically eligible, and soldiers who received them were rightly issued the medal. But technical criteria aside, most soldiers look down on awards given for minor injuries, arguing that doing so cheapens the Purple Heart’s significance for those who were killed or more gravely wounded.

    Permalink
  • Courtesy of West Point

    Veterans Day

    Back From Death And Paying Forward

    Haneke is “paying forward” the care he received over nearly five years and 200 major medical procedures by helping post-9/11 veterans, reports Sandra McElwaine.

    Forty-four years ago, Lt. William G. Haneke was pronounced dead five times over 48 hours.

    The first time was after a Viet Cong–detonated mine catapulted him 80 feet into the air and left him hanging sideways on a barbed-wire fence.

    Permalink