I finished the first draft of the TV drama script for my proposed project “Solomon’s Justice” just before the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. began.
The script channels the information and true stories I have heard in the four years in which I have been active online (BlogTalkRadio, websites, blog posts, etc.) supporting U.S. troops, their families and veterans, including focusing on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The May 26-27 Wall Street Journal carried the front-page article “One Taliban Bullet, Two Lives Lost” by Michael M. Phillips:
On Jan. 18, about halfway through his first combat tour and shortly before a scheduled home leave, the 27-year-old soldier sat in his room at an Army base in the snowy mountains near the Pakistan border. He held a 9mm pistol, the weapon medics carry to protect their patients in battle. He put the muzzle to his head and pulled the trigger.The article is a compelling story of one medic’s desperate attempt to save the life of a fellow soldier shot in a Taliban ambush -- and of that medic’s suicide four months later.
He left behind a two-word note. "I'm sorry," it said.
For many in the military, some of the toughest blows aren't from battle but its aftermath. In the field and at home, many troops wrestle with depression, trauma, anxiety and substance abuse. Sometimes, combat veterans struggle to overcome the guilt of outliving their friends.
As the Journal article reported, “self-inflicted deaths among active-duty Army personnel [21.8 per 100,000] … surpass[ed] the civilian rate in the U.S. for the first time in 2008.”
The May 24 Pasadena Weekly carried the article “Warrior Justice: State courts ease up to help war veterans in trouble readjust to life at home” by Logan Nakyanzi Pollard:
Started in Buffalo, NY, in 2008, veterans’ courts have been established in several states around the country, including California, which has nine such courts statewide, most located in Southern California.According to this article, Judge Tynan is seeing many vets from earlier wars such as Vietnam rather than vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.From what I have learned about PTSD, this may not be as surprising as it at first seems because PTSD can take a long time to manifest itself. (See info on PTSD and post about my visit to Judge Tynan’s veterans court.)
There are approximately 23.4 million veterans, 1.7 million of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan. As much as one-third of the nation’s homeless population has served in the armed forces, according to estimates from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly half of all homeless vets suffer from some sort of mental illness, and 75 percent struggle with substance abuse.
But, unfortunately, many vets don’t know they have that option available to them, says Judge Michael Tynan, who presides over the veterans’ court established in the Los Angeles County Superior Court system.
The proposed TV drama “Solomon’s Justice” is a long shot. But it is one possible way to help spread the word about the veterans court option as well as encourage the establishment of more such courts.
And there is much more that needs to be done to better understand PTSD and how to reduce its effects in combat veterans.
© 2012 Miller Mosaic, LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of nonfiction and fiction books, including the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT.