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Don’t forget to check on mental health of veterans

Don’t forget to check on  mental health of veterans
November 09
05:00 2017

“Thank you for your service.”

That’s a phrase many of us say to veterans we meet or we know. We want to acknowledge that we realize their contributions to helping protect our country and the freedoms we enjoy.

But we need to do more than that. What about the mental health of veterans who return to the United States after serving and are discharged from the military? Do we check the mental health of those veterans?

It’s unfortunate that several mass shootings in the United States have been attributed to veterans, including the most recent one at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Twenty-six people were killed and scores of others were hurt when a gunman unleashed military-style shooting on civilians who were apparently unarmed. A neighbor of the church was armed and helped to bring an end to the mass killings.   

We always ask when these mass killings occur whether they could have been prevented. And then the subject of mental illness pops up. Were these mass killers mentally ill? We don’t seem to be able to understand that evil is real. Maybe we have seen it too many times in movies, where, in our minds, it’s just something someone dreamed up. It really can’t happen, can it?

The question then becomes, how were the people treated who did the killings? Were they surrounded by loving friends and family or discarded along life’s highway?

We may never know about some of these mass killers because they kill themselves or are killed by police before we get the answers we seek. Journalists and law enforcement officials try to do forensic profiles of the killers to get answers. What if the answers lead to simple hugs and warmth were denied for the mass killers? Could we accept that?

As we spread the love this Veterans Day on Saturday, we will no doubt will say to veterans “Thank you for your service.” But don’t forget to ask them “How are you doing?” too.

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WS Chronicle

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