Soldiers Once - My Brother and the Lost Dreams of America's Veterans Over the Memorial Day Weekend as I reflected on all those proud and brave American patriots who have given so much, I also read a disturbing new book by Catherine Whitney. The book is the tragic and heart-breaking story of how her brother Jim Whitney, a veteran of 3 tours of duty in Vietnam began to unravel and never recover. Staff Sergeant Whitney died in retirement from a life spent in the United States Army at the age of 53. He was buried on September 10, 2001.
What is truly haunting about Jim, and so many other Veterans that have died, is the rampant alcoholism, poverty, and isolation these men faced and continue to confront today. Often times disconnected from their loved ones these proud Veterans must deal with a stifling and apathetic Veterans Administration. Budgets are constantly slashed; real help is hard to come by. This is a deplorable situation. How can the US Government allow these Veterans to suffer, many in total silence? President Obama are you listening? The Masters of War are quick to send the young to the battlefield, but their support when they return, is certainly not good enough.
Catherine Whitney decided to search for the answers as to what happened to her Brother and along the way meets many other Veterans who are truly facing hardships each and every day.
From the introduction to her book Catherine says, "There is a significant disconnect between what we say about supporting our troops and what we actually do to support them. This book is about my brother Jim, but beyond his story, it's about how we can make good on our promise of support to these young men and women-not in the immediacy of war, but in its long, slow aftermath. We are a nation exhilarated by battle but indifferent to the requirements of peace. Our memories of war's sacrifices are brief. Today's war heroes too often become tomorrow's poor. Our hearts may swell with pride as we watch our men and women at war, but we seem unable to give them peace with dignity."
Catherine Whitney has an excellent 'Resources for Veterans' section at the end of 'Soldiers Once'. Here are 4 things she says we can do right now to help our Veterans:
- Mandatory mental health screening for soldiers, before and after combat.
- A streamlined claims process for those suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury
- A special program to deal with homeless Veterans.
- Tax incentives for companies hiring Veterans.
"War is Hell... When will it end... When will people start getting together again?".......
Soldiers Once - My Brother and the Lost Dreams of America's Veterans
By Catherine Whitney (Da Capo Press)
Article by Scott Acton:
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