This year Veterans Day and the midterm elections, with their lengthy, still-ongoing results seemed to blend together. Which is not surprising as a whopping 196 veterans ran for office. When all votes are tallied we can expect more veterans in both Houses than in the current Congress.
On the face of it this should be good news for the 33% of veterans who are currently known to be suffering from PTSD and other mental health disorders: their needs should be amply met and heard. But will they be? The answer is yes and no. Veteran deaths by suicide are still over 6000 per year which is one and a half times higher than the rate in the general population. Further, the stigma of mental health disorders among veterans remains extrememly high. Sucesss in civilian life, especaily in politics is not enhanced by a mental health diagnosis. Yet, let's face it, many of our current politicians would not stand up to the challanges of fighting in foreign wars. Some barely understand the difference between wars fought by armies and the crises faced by refugees across the world.
At 3 Generations we have supported efforts to help veterans return to work, seek appropriate mental health support as needed and told the stories of veterans of earlier wars. It never gets easier. But we can all develop more empathy, become better listeners, and learn to suspend judgement. Those who serve and have served deserve our support in sickness and in health. It's basic human rights. Let's stop the stigma.
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