Susan Gardner, Redwood Times
Posted: 12/23/2009 11:32:46 AM PST
“I think we can call ourselves a PTSD nation. To be honest we all need to share the blame equally, whether it is liberals or conservatives.”
Wars have been a part of humanity since the beginning of time and probably will be until the end of time. Men, women, and children will die and be maimed both physically and emotionally. But, this does not mean we should ever stop working towards peace or that we should ever forget those who have served their country, especially while protecting our freedoms.
Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and Community Presbyterian Pastor Sharon Latour spoke at the Garberville Rotary Club last week about those returning veterans. Latour said almost everyone is connected to, or knows a veteran in some way. She spent two years at USC and four years at UCSB in graduate school.
Latour began by stating that we, as a nation, are just now starting to get our heads around the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. When she asked the audience how many are connected to a veteran in some way it was unanimous.
She said, “I think we can call ourselves a PTSD nation. To be honest we all need to share the blame equally, whether it is liberals or conservatives.”
Latour said the media has a lot of responsibility with how these veterans are perceived, along with how the war is projected to the public. She refuses to watch the news on TV because it only shows short flashes over and over again and sensationalizes those items that will sell advertising, which is the lifeblood of both print and all other media. She says there is no middle ground.
Latour said, “Those of you who read a lot will see that the pundits are suggesting that the President’s big concern should be if we gravitate to the middle. It actually serves politics to have us at the extremes. We need to continue to be critical thinkers and consumers of what media filters for us to digest.”
Latour explained that stress is a real part of all our lives and it can kill. As of just a few weeks ago, there were only 43 mental health workers in Afghanistan when there are at least 103 needed. The cases of those soldiers reporting PTSD symptoms have doubled since 2005 and this shortage of military therapists creates a strain all by itself.
The group that was processing for deployment at Ft. Hood when they were attacked by one of their own has now been sent overseas. One-fourth of their number was wounded or killed that day and those mental health experts are now serving in Afghanistan. Latour questions their ability to process what happened that day in such a short amount of time.
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