Note: I wrote this a few years ago and like to occasionally repost)
A fitting title for this post. This is not what I had planned for this writing but this morning I was scrolling through the posts on Twitter and I came across one posted by @SEALofHonor. Sometimes when I read a post by someone I follow and who follows me, I tend to look at pictures they have saved. This man has some awesome pictures and the words he chose to go with those pictures made them even more awesome. One in particular caught my eye. It was of a warrior perched high on a mountainside with his head turned back looking over his shoulder. The words chose by SEALofHonor to describe this picture were ‘Will you remember me? Will you remember those who risk it all?’ Those words hit home and actually made the hair stand up on my arms. Typically that happens to me when words spoken, pictures viewed, songs heard, or stories read, hit an emotional nerve.
There is always going to be war in this world. In order to have a war you have to have at least two conflicting sides. In order for the war to actually happen, you have to have participants. When the US goes to war, those participants are typically our young people. Our future leaders. Young people returning from war typically come home in one of three ways, not affected, a flag draped coffin or they return as a ‘wounded warrior’.
For those not affected, they are the lucky ones. They return to their homes and pick up where they left off. Families are whole again, friendships are renewed. For those who return in a flag draped coffin, they are the unlucky ones. They cannot pick up where they left off. Their families are not whole again, they are broken sometimes until the end of time. There will be no friendships renewed. Everyone who knew them has lost a piece of their heart and soul, never to be replaced. Then there are those who returned as ‘wounded warriors’. They are also the unlucky ones. Some return with missing limbs and some return with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and some return with TBI’s (Traumatic Brain Injuries).
I recently had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ a young man who gave 12 years of his life to this country. He was young and vibrant when he chose the military. He had his and his soul mates future planned out. He was a platoon leader as well as a drill sergeant preparing the ‘newbies’ for what lied ahead. One day on patrol a bomb went off close to him and he was thrown back. With the impact of his landing, his head and the ground met with force. He was blinded for a few minutes but when that disappeared he got up. Despite what he just went through, all he could think about was the safety of his men. Concern for their safety came before his own. His injuries, caused from that explosion, required the military to ‘retire’ him. He is one of the many thousands who return home classified as a ‘wounded warrior’. His wounds, PTSD/TBI. Someday, his story will be told.
Wounded warriors who return home with PTSD/TBI are becoming the ‘lost boys’ of the military. Some do not experience renewed friendships. Some do not experience a ‘whole family’ again. Some feel they no longer fit in. People do not know how to deal with their wounds. They have problems sleeping because when they do, they see the faces of those who came home in a flagged draped coffins. They see, hear and smell over and over what happened while they were fighting for our freedom. They often wonder why they returned home while some others did not. They have dark periods sometimes lasting from a couple of hours, to a couple of days, to a couple of months and sometimes years. Some share with those they are close to what happens during those dark times while some write and some never share. Some go so far as to take their own life thinking that it is the best for all. There is not a week that goes by that a ‘wounded warrior’ somewhere in the US commits suicide because they feel lost and forgotten, not being able to cope with what war has done too them.
If you have a Twitter account, you consistently read tweets referencing the four murdered warriors in Benghazi and the murdered Border Patrol agent killed with guns our government let pass into Mexico. While I agree that those responsible need to be tried and sent to prison, what about the deaths of our ‘wounded warriors’ who returned with PTSD/TBI. What about those ‘wounded warriors’ who do not choose to take their own lives but yet try to live and cope in a society who has forgotten them. Who is standing up for them. PTSD/TBI is an epidemic and needs to be dealt with. Our government needs to step in. They need to take care of what they caused. They can no longer hope that these young men and women just go away. Every resource and every means needs to be taken to help these ‘wounded warriors’.
Before we send our young men and women off to war, someone needs to have the BALLS to reassure them when they ask ‘Will you remember me?’.