ROSE NOLEN: Remembering our military heroes, with mixed feelings

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

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


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Skip Yates August 6, 2013 | 9:49 p.m. Might be interested to know that studies show suicides are not linked to deployments or combat stress. Just sayin'

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stephen Kightlinger August 7, 2013 | 9:08 a.m.

Having never served, I'll never know exactly what those who have have gone through. Like everything else, I am sure it is a mixed bag, a bag that from the look of things has too much suicide and rape in it. I thank military service people when I can, but I don't say that I support or honor them because I define that as requiring more than occasional monetary contributions, a bumper sticker and warm spot in my heart for volunteers paid precious little for doing nasty work.
And although it is a paltry contribution, I think we owe it to those who serve to solve the problems created by their service. Solving the suicide conundrum has to be high on that list. Stars and Stripes recently had an article on the need to restrict at risk service men from guns to bring down the suicide rate. Suicide is attempted on impulse. If one can overcome the impulse or survive the attempt, the person often seeks help and lives out his life. But if there is access to a gun, the means to carry out the attempt is just a click away and the ability to survive the attempt drops exponentially compared to other means.
The brass in the Pentagon wanted to implement a program where at risk people would be asked to turn in their privately owned guns until their suicidal thoughts passed. This method of suicide prevention is called "means restriction." A study of voluntary means restriction in a group of civilians had been done where the at risk person was asked (usually by a doctor, therapist or clergy) to turn in their guns until their impulses passed. The study showed that this method reduced suicides to zero. But the Pentagon could not implement such a program because of political pressure. Seems there is a very strong lobby in Washington that favors cold dead hands over cool heads.
This is just sad, short sighted and not supportive of our troops. While our soldiers fight to defend our freedom and that freedom includes gun ownership, they also fight for a government that is not manipulated by financial interests which, in this case, is blind to the fact that it is losing its best customers.
Here is the article.

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Skip Yates August 7, 2013 | 4:58 p.m.

@Stephen: I was in Vietnam in '67, 68 and 69 and back again in '73. The first 3 years were very bad. Though not an infantryman, I wasn't a "staff officer" in Saigon. Flew up North and had my share of people trying to kill me. I have met 2 people that have 100% disability ($2800 a month for life) for PTSD that have NEVER been in combat. I think another source, though I can't remember it, showed that the suicide rate among the general population was higher than the "Iraq/Afgan" vets. You can buy a book at Barnes & Noble that helps you get benefits( fooling the shrink)...that being said, there is no program, to my knowledge that relates firearms to any of this though there was a rumor that if you had PTSD, ownership of a gun was could be against the law. Maybe we are talking about a different thing and I don't know what I'm talking about. I know a SGT that has payments for 80% PTSD yet still serves in the MO National Guard. And, there was an interesting piece in VOX a month or so ago, of a guy determined to be 100% unemployable (gets $2800 a month from the VA), with PTSD, yet took a job going back to Afganistan to the place that caused him PTSD in the first place...and he apparently IS employable..strange world isn't it? The new soup of the day is sexual harassment, which is in the eye of the beholder and can't be disproved...rates a varing degree of PTSD payments. A wonderful cash cow that is widely known among the new military folks that joined for "education money"...which you will pay for. There is a reason VA claims are now taking well over two years to reach a decision because of the number of claims submitted. Just sayin'......

(Report Comment)
stephen Kightlinger August 8, 2013 | 9:27 a.m.

Hey Skip, thank you for your service. I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday whose parent's fled China ahead of Mao and the communists and they settled in South Vietnam until the bottom fell out. He was born near the end of the war and they amscrayed via boat to America. He was one of the boat people, or, more accurately, a boat baby since he was only one when he made the journey. So thanks on his behalf for helping buy his folks enough time to have him.

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