The costs of war aren't always obvious or immediate. A few months after I got back from a trip to Afghanistan, I got a call from one of the Marines with whom we were embedded. He couldn't sleep; he was drinking heavily; was afraid he was going to kill his dog and couldn't stop arguing with his girlfriend; he'd moved out on her and was living in the barracks. Already on what they call "a bag o'meds," a pharmaceutical cocktail prescribed by a Navy doctor, he was clearly suffering from PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder. He didn't want to ask anyone at his base for help because he thought it would count against him. I urged him, pleaded with him, to get help.
Watch Scott Pelley's report.
I know how this Marine's story can end. I had heard similar stories dozens of times from others who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. While most troops coming home are able to adjust, many suffer from PTSD or (TBI) traumatic brain injury. And they get caught in a downward spiral that can involve alcoholism, domestic violence and ultimately either suicide or homelessness. I heard it from soldiers at Fort Carson who had served in Iraq; I heard it from redeployed Marines while in Afghanistan. I met young homeless veterans in New York City and Sacramento; spoke to a former sailor who was bedding down for the night on Skid Row in Los Angeles while he nonchalantly shot up heroin.
Just got me thinking, about vets and how they get forgotten after they have served their country...
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