A recent article by StreetRoots highlights:
- The Oregon National Guard has the highest rate of suicide among all U.S. National Guards.
- Thanks to medical advances, more veterans are surviving combat wounds. This also means a higher percentage of veterans are returning with physical and cognitive disabilities.
- Veterans are especially susceptible to substance abuse due to the addictive pain killers they’re prescribed.
- The downward spiral of a veteran into homelessness usually doesn’t happen right away. It often takes about 3 years of struggle with PTSD, decay of supportive relationships, employment difficulties and increasing substance abuse.
- Veterans often find it easier to stick up for a buddy than to ask for help themselves. They’re upheld as strong heroes and may have a difficult time admitting they need help.
From the StreetRoots blog: “A long way from home: Soldiers return from the battlefields”
Ryan McNabb was a medic in the Marine Corps for six years. He deployed twice to Iraq and worked on the front lines, experiencing, he says, what you’d expect to experience on a battlefield. He returned home in February 2006.
A few months later, he got in a fight and assaulted two police officers. He chalked it up to normal drunken sailor stuff — just blowing off steam.
When he blacked out in rage, while driving 65 miles per hour with his wife and five-month old son in the back seat, he realized it wasn’t normal any more.
“I know I’m an intelligent human being. I know why babies cry, and they’re trying to inform me of something,” McNabb said. “But with PTSD, I don’t like large sharp sounds. It reminds me of gunshots and explosions. My son had wet himself. He started to cry. I was driving. While he’s screaming at the back of my head, he’s screaming at my soul, which set me off. So I start screaming at my wife, while going 65 miles per hour down the freeway. She shouts back at me. I rip the rearview mirror off and threw it at the floorboard. I grabbed the GPS and threw it at the windshield and it spiderwebbed going 65 mph with my wife and child in back seat. I blacked out in rage. I don’t remember pulling to the side of the road at all.”