Friday, November 23, 2007

One Issue

As I've written this blog over the last several months (knowing that only a few of my friends read it anyway), I have often thought that at certain times I have only been writing about one issue.

I have written a lot on the Iraq war and the damage I believe it has done to this country.

I have written a lot on the possibility, that crazy as it seems, that we may be plunged into ANOTHER war in the middle east with Iran.

I have written a lot on what I believe to be issues such as the fact that our economy seems to be strong on the surface, but beneath is a shaky house of cards, the idea that our infrastructure is falling apart in a lot of places, and the question that a lot of others are asking: Are we like that late Roman Empire?

I have even written on Atheism and belief in God.

Lately though, I have been sort of a one-topic guy. And that is the topic of taking care of our veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan (and possibly soon Iran).

Today, I read a great piece by Paul Rieckhoff , who is the Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (he is also the author of Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier's Perspective, which is a GREAT book).,15202,156809_1,00.html

Paul's piece points up four great points:

1. Asking a troop just back from Iraq to fill out another form is not the same as screening them for PTSD.

2. Mental health issues are family issues.

3. National Guardsmen and Reservists are facing a special set of issues, and their concerns need to get heard.

4. Troops need more time to access to care.

With regard to point one, several weeks ago, I read about a soldier who killed himself (he got drunk and hung himself with an electrical cord). He went to the hospital, and was asked if he was suicidal. When he said yes, they said, essentially they couldn't see him anyway. What is the point of asking if he is suicidal if you cannot do anything about it?

Paul's point is great - filling out a form is not solving a problem. We should all know this from our dealings with any number of organizations. How many of us like filling out forms for routine, mundane things such as car repair or other services? We know they are blowing us off by making us do it, and that's why we get angry. Imagine now the feelings with critical issues of life and death.

With regard to point two, this should be obvious as hell, but it's really not. The US does not have a strong sense of "community" anymore. We tend to isolate ourselves from each other.

I have posted this organization called Give an Hour ( here before, but it needs to be repeated again, and again, and again and again.

I believe that this organization (Give an Hour), along with Paul's organization and others are trying to build the networks to solve these problems. I think the VA and other Military Treatment Networks are going to need all the help they can get.

If I'm becoming a one issue guy, it's an issue that's well worth it.

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