Let’s spread the word to raise money to help our troops with PTSD.
Found below is a letter/email blast from a concerned citizen encouraging people to attend SFTT’s fundraising event at the Gotham Comedy Club in NYC on Tuesday, June 26th. Signup online and support our troops with more than lip service.
As the invitation details, the purpose of the event is to benefit soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). As the media has widely reported, early in those conflicts PTSD didn’t seem to be a major problem — although the symptoms often don’t manifest themselves until years after the trauma occurred.
I became interested in this issue during my own military service. Although I served only several years on active duty, it was at a time when many Vietnam veterans were beginning to exhibit signs of what we now call PTSD, and (in retrospect) neither the Veterans Administration nor other medical communities were quick enough to recognize the problem and/or be prepared to assist the suffering veterans. (In prior conflicts, the recognition and care were even worse, and the condition was often referred to as “seeing the elephant” (a Civil War term), “shell shock” (World War I), “battle fatigue” (recall General Patton slapping the emotionally-crushed soldier), etc.
Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, the condition is now worsening among this generation’s war veterans. One key problem is the repeated redeployment of our troops to Iraq and, now, to Afghanistan. Apparently, the risk of suffering from PTSD increases geometrically with every deployment to a combat zone, and some of our troops have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan 4 to 5 times.
As a result, not only are reported cases of PTSD increasing, but so are instances of suicides among returning veterans. Indeed, early in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, the suicide rate among soldiers was much lower than that of the general public. Now, the rate among soldiers exceeds that of the general public, and reportedly is increasing.
Of course, the Veterans Administration is attempting to address this problem, but the VA has its limits, and in any event, more always can be done, and many private groups have tried to step into the breach. Thus, the purpose of this fundraiser.
As for the two hosts, I don’t know Eilhys Hackworth (a link to an interview with whom is included below), but I do know that she is the widow of Col. David Hackworth, who was a legend in the Army, and one of the most decorated soldiers of his time.
The other host is General John Bastiste, whom I have known for 39 years since I was his roommate during my brief ROTC student exchange visit to West Point. John obviously went on to have a superb career, and especially to have garnered a stellar reputation in Iraq as the commanding general of the fabled First Infantry Division. (John’s West Point classmates include Marty Dempsey, currently the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Dave Petraeus, now the CIA director).
Although John now is in private industry serving as the president of a steel corporation, he has been utterly unselfish with his time and unflagging in his efforts to help the soldiers who served under him readjust to civilian life and to cope with any difficulties/disabilities — such as PTSD or physical injuries (such as loss of eyes or limbs) — which they may have suffered in the service of their country.
I hope you can make it to this worthy event, and certainly, please feel free to circulate this invitation to anyone whom you think might be interested in attending. The more the merrier.
Anything you could do to help would be greatly appreciated — including by spreading the word.
Call me with any questions.