Angels Who Support Our Veterans
Here's information for injured veterans and those who wish to help.
While combat deaths are down, disabilities from wounds have increased for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan when compared to the Vietnam era. Here are six non-profit organizations whose missions are to serve those servicemen and women who have come into harm’s way while deployed in today’s war zones.
U.S. Army Captain Scotty Smiley, who was blinded and temporally paralyzed by shrapnel in Iraq in 2005, has been able to adapt to his injuries and even thrive. But had he been fighting a generation ago in the Vietnam War, his chances of surviving his injuries would've been much lower.
In today's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one in 10 wounded U.S. soldiers die from their injuries compared with one in every four during the Vietnam War. Medical advances have made it possible to save more lives of our servicemen and women.
But the high number of injured vets—almost 32,000 as of May 9, 2008—is also due to the nature of the fighting. Shrapnel wounds from roadside bombs and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are common and often cause head injuries, like the one Smiley endured.
Additionally, delays and shortcomings in treatment have been reported, as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs strain to care for this new generation of veterans. Some vets don't have access to the type of treatment they need in their areas and others get frustrated navigating the bureaucratic channels required to receive benefits.
Many vets returning with mental health problems, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression, receive inadequate treatment—or go undiagnosed—according to a study by the RAND Corporation.
While the government is taking steps to deal with these issues—like updating the IT systems that handle medical records, hiring new staff to process claims and improving mental health training—changes might not happen soon enough for those in immediate need.
That's why we've put together a list of six resources for both vets and their families and those who want to help them.