Thursday, April 05, 2007

Shattered Lives

It comes as no surprise that we continue to read and hear about young men coming back from Iraq and having episodes similar to this young man. It really, really brought tears to my eyes as I read this in today's New York Times.

Sam Ross is only 24 years old and his life is irrevocably changed. Granted, this young man came from a family & life that was alleged to have already had troubles, BUT the treatment, or lack thereof, that he received after his injuries sounds quite typical to what we have been hearing and reading about as more and more of these young people come back with catastrophic bodily and mental wounds.

Remember, a post I had awhile back, from a military psychiatrist, stated that they had far too few mental health professionals on hand to help these soldiers deal with these issues once they were back stateside. These are issues that must be dealt with and that can not be ignored. otherwise they are relying on self help with drugs and alcohol which can lead to very dangerous behaviors. They are not in their right mind.

This young man is an example of the poorer, small town country folk, that are being pulled in to, or lured, with the idea that they can go to college after they get out or maybe it is the only way out of a very small town. Now, I know what some might say, that there are many young people that go willingly, from these small towns and enlist, yes, this is true, but the numbers from the small towns has been proven to be hugely disproportionate to the numbers from bigger cities. A demographer, William O'Hare and a journalist, Bill Bishop worked with the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute, which specializes in the overlooked rural areas in this country. Their study produced numbers that stated that for rural soldiers (24 million per million adults aged 18-59) the death rate is 60% higher than for soldiers from the cities and suburbs (15 deaths per million). These small towns have usually lost their job base and there is little left for these young people to do other than join the military. Granted, they may go willingly, but the numbers still point to the fact that the recruiters seem to be pulling them in in larger numbers because they have noted these facts themselves.

I am not feeling sorry for Mr. Ross because his early life seems to be one of some amount of chaos. I think he may have been looking for his way out and due to the lack of care, as we have been hearing in many accounts , he has fallen farther into an abyss that he may see no light at the end of the tunnel. How many more must return to face such uncertainty? The mental and physical demands that have been placed on these soldiers has been huge, isn't it about time they they received the help that they deserve?

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