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Do Our Veterans Get the Help They Need?

Many of my clients are military veterans. Some served in Vietnam, some in Iraq, and some in other distant lands. A lot of them are dealing with a serious medical issue.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common. It often takes these men and women a very long time to come to terms with their war experience. Even though they are home, the war still rages within. It takes a toll on their health, their marriage, and their job.

From a life insurance underwriting point of view, I can usually deal with all the issues. The more serious challenges include narcotic pain medication, hospitalizations, and even a criminal record. Alcohol and drug abuse may need to also be addressed.

Some veterans are highly functioning in spite of their past. One client ran a highly successful  business. He worked long and hard hours, and made a lot of money. Interestingly, he was still collecting disability benefits from the military. Why? Because in Vietnam he was part of a mop-up crew that destroyed villages in search of enemy combatants. The government basically said, “What we made you do was so bad, you must be somehow mentally impaired. Here is some money as compensation.”

Well, that is one way of helping them. At the same time, much more personal assistance is needed. This is especially true for those veterans with PTSD. Some of them seem to be unable to get the violence out of their system when they return from combat. Apparently, a strong link exists between PTSD and postwar homicide.

Former Marine infantry officer David J. Morris talks about this. He takes issue with the many government officials who deny that link.

It is impossible to say for sure what drove these young men to commit murder, but the idea that combat exposure and post-traumatic stress could be contributing factors makes sense if you look at war for what it is at the grunt level: murder that has been sanctioned by the government. The simple fact is that war poisons some men’s souls, and we aren’t doing our veterans any favors by pretending that war is only about honor and service and sacrifice and by insisting that PTSD is completely unrelated to the problem of postwar violence. It’s not only morally irresponsible, it’s scientifically inaccurate.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t want this to be true. In fact, as a veteran who has struggled with post-traumatic stress, I hate that it’s true, but war is an evil thing. As a society we need to face the reality of it head-on so that we can avoid the next war. And despite its official protests to the contrary, the VA secretly agrees with me. Visit any VA hospital across the country and you’ll see what I mean. What’s the first thing you see when you walk in? A metal detector with an armed VA police officer standing nearby.

There is no honor in being mentally impaired, and there is no shame to the nation in admitting that some of our warriors are wounded. They deserve the best treatment possible for their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The least I can do is get them a good price on their life insurance. We should all do what we can, especially government personnel who are supposed to get them the treatment they need.