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September 08, 2010

Daily Journal: Operation Iraqi Freedom Is Not Over for Veterans

Daily Journal | By Hernan D. Vera

 

On Aug. 31, 2010, a few weeks after the last combat brigades shipped out, President Barack Obama announced the formal end to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Over the course of America's nine-year war in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 2,052,000 service members have been deployed in the region, with over 40.5 percent experiencing two or more deployments.

Now that the headlines have changed, and America's attention has turned elsewhere, tens of thousands of our veterans are returning to their local communities here in Southern California. By all accounts, the physical and psychological wounds they have suffered are staggering. According to official statistics from the Department of Defense, there have been 31,929 military personnel wounded in action. The Rand Corp. estimates that one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, or traumatic brain injury. Most of these men and women in uniform will live with these disabilities for years.

But it gets worse. Consider that only 27 of the Department of Veteran Affairs' (VA) 1,400 hospitals around the county have in-patient PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) programs. And even those who receive treatment must contend with a 23-page standard form that they must fill out to receive any assistance.

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