Many Returning Troops Struggle To Reconnect

The Hartford Courant ran an article the mental health status of Soldiers and Marines returning from war. PTSD and traumatic brain injuries are serious issues for returning soldiers. I applaud the State of Connecticut for the steps they have taken to care for their returning soldiers and redoubling their effort to address these issues. I encourage you to read it.

But there is a fear I have that the Courant did not address. I fear this article will continue to feed into the myth held by many in this country that returning soldiers are … for want of a better word …monsters (apolgies to Senator Clinton), or monsters in the making. Nothing could be further from the truth.

First, the disconnect talked about in this article in my opinion, is normal and to be expected. Any one who leaves their home and country for a year is going to have some adjustment to make upon returning home no matter what their job. Life has gone on without them for a year, the entire daily routine has changed and so have the people around them. Re-acclimation takes time.

Second, some reactions that family members or civilians might find odd or unusual are really just learned responses, not signs of mental illness. When a soldier’s driving down the road, changes lanes because there’s a bag of garbage on the side of the road, only another soldier is going to understand that. It’s a learned reaction, and it takes time to unlearn.

Third, it’s critical really for Americans to understand war changes people, and not automatically in a bad way as perceived. I would venture to say that most Soldiers and Marines come home with a different perspective on life and what is important. And this would be incorporated into their readjustment. It would be unfair to label or even assume that all returning service people are in some fashion mentally unfit and unable to cope when they are going through normal readjustment stages. Fighting a war has consequences for everyone who has served, but its a tribute to fine breed of men and woman that serve that the vast majority return ready to continue to serve in the military or civilian population. I can assure you … that is the case.

Finally, on a personal note, remember this … it’s not just our experiences in Iraq or Afghanistan that affect us upon returning home … your opinion of returning vets can have an even greater affect on a solider’s and family’s psyche as well. We served our country proudly by choice. All we ask in return is time, patience, and respect.

~Post by Mel