Let me open this blog by saying that my only expertise in talking about veterans’ issues is that in 2003 I became one — a veteran, not an issue, that is.

With that said, many of us returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan are coming to realize that our home town — this profoundly military town — will be on the front line of what is sure to be a controversial battle over the next decade: The battle between those who say they support veterans and those who really do.

People — and policy makers — are starting to realize that it’s going to cost a lot of money to deal with more than 50 thousand wounded veterans and perhaps hundreds of thousands more who have been scarred emotionally.

 (To get an idea of the scope of the problem, see Los Angeles Times op-ed penned by Linda Blimes of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.)

 I want to say upfront that I’m not here to bash the Veterans Administration — which has served me (and several of my friends) very well. (Note: Following combat in Iraq, I was diagnosed with PTSD. ( More on that later, if you want to talk about it. And read more here and here for some of my background, if you are interested.)

But, I’m worried that local Vet Centers and other service providers here in town are going to be severely taxed by returning service members in need of help. Barring a public outcry and public action, I’m afraid this issue is going to have a huge impact on older veterans who depend on those services, as well as the continuing wave of vets coming home.

The question is: What are we prepared to do about it? And what can we do?

I want to hear from you. Let’s talk.

JEFF STINCHCOMB

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