Veterans Need More Than Applause

Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur recently wrote a great article on the need for civilians and the American government to connect with returning soldiers in a more meaningful way. Brodeur interviewed Sam Barrett, 30, an U.S. Army Airborne Ranger who did three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Barrett explains that the appreciative applause he and other veterans sometime receive is just not enough.

“A lot of people don’t realize that we carry that baggage in the transition from military to civilian,” he said. “When you thank a veteran, there should be some substance behind it.”

Broeduer asserts that the problem may stem from the nation’s general shift in attention from a variety of important issues (including veterans) to the economy situation of the country. Luckily, many people do still keep veterans in mind. Between the recent proposal of the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit (which offers businesses a financial reward for hiring unemployed and disabled veterans) and the establishment of Veterans Courts which handle nonviolent offenders with substance abuse issues and/or mental health disorders.

As for the rest of us? We can ask more questions, be sensitive to veterans’ stress or sadness, or just give them the benefit of the doubt, instead of viewing some of them as “ghosts in the street,” as Barrett called them.

“You can educate yourself as much as possible,” he said, “but understand that at some level, you just can’t go any deeper. You want to get it, but you can’t.

“And that’s OK.”

Click here to read the full article in the Seattle Times.

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