With Love and Gratitude

A blessing a day keeps the doc away

Show Gratitude for Veterans With Health Services

Whenever a member of the armed forces returns home, it's a joyful veteran's day.

Edwin Austin Abbey, Yale Digital Commons
Year after year Veterans Day becomes more poignant as does this quote from poet and playwright Eve Merriam, “I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask,'Mother, what was war?'” But war continues and men and women serve this nation with devotion and dignity. More than a day for remembrance and gratitude, Veterans Day is a reminder that men and women are still in uniform. 

For many returning veterans the war often comes home with them. Family, friends, spouses and lovers looking forward to a “normal life” often see soldiers struggling with health and relationships as they fall through medical-care cracks. Those especially affected find themselves with the debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI.)

Brain injuries

In working with Steven C. Schachter, M.D., Beth Israel Deaconess, while senior editor of epilepsy.com, I came to see the efforts of physicians attempting to bring to light the health care needs of men and women serving our country through Operation Giveback. The situation with brain injury and epilepsy in veterans was so widespread that it was at a 2008 American Epilepsy Society meeting of neurologists that Marc Dichter, M.D., a neurology and pharmacology professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, outlined “Operation Giveback” to create better access to care nationwide and develop comprehensive information networks. Today there is still a need.

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From Sea to Shining Sea

Honoring those who serve.

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To honor the people in military service

While traditional Veterans Day activities are designed to honor and express gratitude - perhaps  the best gift we can give would be to lobby alongside veterans for increased outreach, medical, and mental health services. The Illinois Joining Forces program, which is modeled after the Joining Forces initiative spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, is one new example. 

"It seeks to increase collaboration and communication among non-profits and public agencies serving veterans at the local, state and federal levels. Through IJF, participating organizations will work together to address gaps in services in job training and placement, healthcare, education and housing, actively refer veterans and service members in need of assistance, and offer better navigation of available resources and service to the public."State launches effort for veterans, active duty service members

Executive order to improve mental health access

On August 31, 2012, President Obama signed an executive order to improve mental health access to veterans. The new provisions of the order are designed to:

  • Strengthen suicide-prevention efforts across the force and in the veteran community;
  • Increase the number of VA mental health providers serving veterans; and
  • Promote mental health research and development of more effective ways to prevent, identify and treat PTSD, TBI and other related injuries. Obama: Improve Mental Health Access, Care for Military, Vets

One this Veterans Day, to men and women in uniform, we are grateful to you -- every single day.

Veterans Day Quotes

Maya Angelou: “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” 

Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.  This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron." Speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 16 April 1953

Nikki Giovanni: "In the name of peace / They waged the wars / Ain’t they got no shame" 

Herbert Hoover:  "Older men declare war.  But it is the youth that must fight and die."

Perhaps this quote is among those that still makes one wonder: 

M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter: "Sometimes I think it should be a rule of war that you have to see somebody up close and get to know him before you can shoot him." 

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Copyright 2012 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

Rita Watson, MPH, is an Associate Fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College and a columnist for The Providence Journal.

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