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Alright, it’s early yet, but the sheer silence on this subject tells me one of three things: I’m boring the crap out of you, you are busy, or this topic is not controversial enough to warrant your time.

 I can accept any of these, especially the third. I mean there are only two people who officially don’t support veterans, as far as I can tell: Jane Fonda’s publicist, circa 1972 and a guy “living in a van down by the river.” (My apologies to Chris Farley for “river” quote, but not to Barbarella.)

Just an FYI: I’m including a couple of links that highlight this issue.

One is a GAO report that identified the initial concerns about the VA and its ability to cope with the volume of returning soldiers. Basically, the report found that the VA based some of its budget projections on pre-Iraq statistics.

Another is a report that identifies the need for increased support at the VA’s walk-in Vet Centers, which provide a low-key, and relatively low-cost, option for the VA to provide counseling to veterans.

I think it is important to point out that there are at least two very positive causes of the increase in the VA’s workload:

1. Wounded service members are surviving at much higher rates (thanks to our fantastic medics);

2. Vets with PTSD and other emotional problems, such as depression, are seeking care early on. This will help them in the long run, as several Vietnam vets have assured me.

But if you ask me — and you haven’t — the number of soldiers coming seeking help is actually low. I know of many who are struggling and have yet to use the VA centers in the methodical manner needed to really heal. 

Again, the questions are: What can we do? Are we doing enough?

I do want to say that there is an impression among many soldiers I know that we are a military at war, but not a nation at war. That is to say, other than service members and their families, there has been relatively little change in the way we as Americans live our daily lives. It’s not that they are ungrateful for the support they do receive, but there are wounded guys and gals coming home who need more than bumper stickers and parades.

What do you think?

— JEFF STINCHCOMB

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