Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Sen. Barbara Mikulski said that government must do more to help troops returning from battle by increasing funding for mental health programs and slashing the bureaucracy that thwarts those who need help from receiving it. Both officials heard a dozen stories of soldiers returning from combat only to be met by emotional and financial strain, according to the Baltimore Sun. O’Malley said Maryland can’t wait for the federal government to “figure this out.” “The fact of the matter is that when these men and women come back out of combat from having served the rest of us, they deserve our help,” he said.
The progress report on Iraq that Gen. David Petraeus is slated to give the Senate next week promises to draw all three presidential candidates back from the campaign trail. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the Republican nominee for president, is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) is also on the Armed Services Committee. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is on the Foreign Relations Committee. Both committees are slated to hear from Petraeus on April 8, along with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.
Eric Hall was a Marine Corporal from Indiana who lost a leg fighting in Iraq. When he returned home he, like so many other untreated victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, found himself overwhelmed. At a relative’s home in Florida, he had a flashback and feared Iraqi insurgents were closing in. He disappeared into the woods of southwest Florida. An entire community, united in support over one wounded warrior despite their disagreements over the war, mobilized to try and find him. This included Vietnam veterans in the community who would eventually help discover Hall’s body. The story is recounted in today’s New York Times.
A new program launched by Massachusetts last month seeks to give one-on-one counseling to Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans to help prevent suicide. The program, funded by state money, links veterans, spouses and mental health experts, according to the Boston Globe. “Being in combat and then trying to readjust to the civilian life — it’s not easy,” said Kevin Lambert, a veteran of the war in Iraq who is helping lead the effort. “No one understands that because they haven’t been there. But we’ve been there. We can relate.”