"When you consider that 1.5 million people have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is estimated that 150,000 to 300,000 of the returning soldiers will have some form of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and this is an enormous problem that requires immediate action."  This report by Paul Sullivan, executive director of Beterans for Common Sense, a nonprofit advocacy for vets, should invoke action by our government.

    A TBI has been described by evaluators as a progressive injury which may manifest itself and then go dormant for many years.  Thiere is increasing evidence of a TBI in relationship to polytraumatic events.  Inother words, the damage to the brain impacts other vital functions.  During the Civil War, reports of soldiers returning home with body parts missing, experienced a condition now classified as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RFD).  This medical event was originally classified as Hand and Foot Disease, since the parts of the body most impacted by amputations were the hands and feet.  Fantom pain not necessary consistent with conditions the patient presents with may be present.  The debate is still open with Neurologists as to the relilability and validy of this disease.  At issue is that for those experiencing RSD symptoms, the disease is real.  Is it any wonder that soldiers returning from combat with missing hands, feet, legs, arms or perhaps paralyzed will show secondary battle injuries meeting the medical description of RSD?

    The financial cost is not always evidenced strictly by the direct injury a service member has sustained.  Family members must often travel to treatment facilities, pasy out of pocket for daily expenses, potentiall lost the source of the second income and risk failure of children in school class work due to time away.  Once military pay has ceased and families rely on disability income, many families go through increased financial crisis including foreclosed homes, defaults on credit cards, vehicles and personal loans.  What happens is a marked increase in the classification of the middle class poor.  Our nation needs a program to build a system of bridges to help our warriors stay out or poverty or get out of poverty. 

    Several years ago our government built the federal highway which runs from New York City to San Francisco.  Large sections of this highway are no longer navigationable.  If we can build this highway can we not build briges our of poverty, for our men and women how bravely fought our war on terrorism?  As we look back at the reception our military personnel experienced upon their return from the jungles of Viet Nam, is this not a time of shame in the history of this country?  As we focus on the return of the bulk of our armies in the Middle East by the end of 2010, are we preparing to subject these service members and their families to a similar reception?  This country cannot stand by and watch the increase in bankruptcies, forecloaures, lack of sufficient medical care and other methods of failure.  Bridges Out Of Poverty, establishes a concept that we who are grateful to these men and women who wear the uniforms of this country, will not allow their service and disabilities, to be anything less than a full comprehensive program to support them on behalf of a grateful nation.

    This is your forum to comment how you feel and what we should do in support of returning veterans.  Inclusion, employment and fair treatment should be our battle cry as we address this past, present and future rehabilitation issue.

Last modified: Sunday, 15 March 2009, 07:55 PM