“Gary,” my Grandfather admitted with tears in his eyes, “I’m going to hell.” 52 years earlier, in the Battle of New Britain, Wiley Ray killed multiple Japanese combatants. The admission stunned my Dad. Growing up, he believed my Grandfather was prematurely relieved of duty due to malaria. That and little else was said of the War. The topic was taboo; any inquiries received the all too familiar chorus of, “Nothing happened to your Daddy, just a hospital bed and pills. Worry about the now.” To be fair, this was partly true. The hospital bed and pills happened but only after Wiley endured six months of malaria ridden brutal combat which ended in shrapnel wounds. For half a century, he privately grappled with the horrors of combat. Nobody, not even his wife, imagined the Pacific haunted him. He seemed unscathed. How could a law-abiding, humorous, hardworking father of two be a psychologically damaged war-veteran?
Under United States law veterans enjoy the benefits of protected class status. It is odd then that veteran care and benefits after the war have been shrouded in controversy and debate. Certainly, it is popular for politicians and the media to taut their strong support of veterans and their rights. Obama addressed post war psychological counseling in a 2010 address, “America will always be here for our veterans, just as they’ve been there for us.”1 President George W. Bush has also expressed similar sentiments saying, “I’m in there with [the veterans].”2 For many veterans, including Daniel Somers, this rhetoric means nothing. Daniel Somers killed himself in the summer of 2013.3 He had served in over 400 combat missions in Iraq before coming home. Com...
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Kemp, Janet, PhD. "Suicide Prevention Program." Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web.
Klein, Sarah. "Adrenaline, Cortisol, Norepinephrine: The Three Major Stress Hormones, Explained." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2014.
"-." -. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
Sanchez, Ray, Evan Perez, Ed Lavandera, Pam Brown, Josh Rubin, Meredith Edwards, Dania Alexandrino, Barbara Starr, Miguel Marquez, and Kevin Flower. "Fort Hood Shooter Was Iraq Vet Being Treated for Mental Health Issues." CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Thomas, Mangan. "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Is a Misnomer." Examiner.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
"Weekly Address: President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need." The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
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