COLUMBIA — My brother passed away last month. He was a Korean War veteran and was buried in the Veteran’s Cemetery in Higginsville.
My other two brothers were also veterans, as was my father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather. I am proud of the men in my family who served the country.
Although I am opposed to most wars,I appreciate the sacrifice the men of my family made. They were called, and they answered the call.
I don’t feel the same way about the volunteer army. In the end, it seems to me, that only the poor serve in the volunteer military. Those who can find good jobs and profitable opportunities don’t seem to be interested in military service.
Serving in the military today is a lot different than it used to be. According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, many of those who served in those countries are facing a mental-health crisis.
Since 2001 for example, 3,000 active-duty members have killed themselves. Nearly a third of veterans who recently responded to an association survey indicated that they have considered taking their own lives.
Veterans returning from active duty often experience a variety of other health problems. As of January, more than 1,500 have lost limbs in the wars. These former members of the military have to learn to use a prosthesis or function without the limb. Many of these patients also suffer from depression.
Many soldiers return with post-traumatic stress disorder, a type of anxiety stemming from a life-threatening event that causes repeated and disturbing flashbacks. Sufferers tend to avoid people and places that may trigger intense memories of the event.
Fortunately, we have good veterans hospitals to care for our military, and they are often conveniently located.
I do object to the Junior ROTC programs in the high schools. Although these programs are not supposed to be for the purpose of recruitment — the stated purpose is to instill citizenship, public service and respect for the U.S. armed forces — I believe they encourage young people to join the military. I’ve known children who have been very disappointed when they find out that the experience is not what they expected.
Still, veterans are among my favorite people, and the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are two of my favorite organizations. They can always be counted on to lend a helping hand.
I’m glad, too, that more women are taking advantage of the opportunities to serve. They make good soldiers.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.