My ultimate prayer is we'll use ways to resolve conflict nonviolently and war will become obsolete. But we're obviously not there yet.
So meantime, what are we doing for those who return? Most veterans need much more than a "thank you", however deeply heartfelt it may be. A significant amount are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which results in feeling disconnected from oneself, others and all of life. PTSD alone, much less combined with transitioning from being in combat to being home, often derails people, big time, leaving the entire family needing help.
Although I have quite a bit of experience treating adults who suffer from childhood abuse, I've never worked with a veteran. However, whenever there's reporting of an unusually horrific rampage of violence, I tend to think it's untreated PTSD, and write my legislators, asking that more be done to help military personnel, including military dogs.
The good news is there has been increased military awareness around PTSD, as well as long fought for availability of timely and effective treatment. I got tears in my eyes when President Obama signed another executive order on August 31, 2012, aimed at improving access to mental health services for vets. The bad news is that because of pending government sequester cuts, these hard won services are now threatened.
Given this, what can you do to help?
1) Contact your elected officials to let them know treatment of PTSD for vets is a top priority for you and you'd like these services to be protected as much as possible.
2) Educate yourself and others to be able to detect PTSD and encourage those suffering from it to seek help.
3) Share resources for information and treatment, such as this post, which includes additional resources at the bottom, for example.
4) Pray, meditate, chant, whatever you do along this line, for those who have returned and will return.
Regardless of your beliefs about our country's involvement in war, I think you'd agree that many veterans have served us in good faith, including sacrificing their lives for us. I feel we, in turn, need to advocate for and serve them.
Links To Recommended References & Resources:
Contact Elected Officials
"Four Legged Warriors Show Signs of PTSD" by Ryan Loyd, March 11, 2013
Free Audio For Stress Relief
"Military PTSD treatment hurt by sequester cuts" by Fritz Burgher, March 13, 2013
"Military Veterans PTSD Reference Manual"
"PTSD Help For Veterans and Military Families"
"PTSD: Is It Treatable Or Do You Just Have To Learn To Cope?" by Mary Tendall and Jan Fishler