The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.
We have become increasingly removed from the horrors of war. We have eliminated the draft; we have subcontracted out military operations to private companies; we rely on unmanned drones to do battles. Unlike the "Greatest Generation" where sacrifice by those stateside was called for in support of those in battle, we have gone to great lengths to make the trauma of wartime much less a part of our daily lives.
But for thousands and thousands of returning vets, it's not so easy to forget. Nor is the transition back home after the unrelenting stress of Afghanistan easy to maneuver. We've lost more service members to suicide this year than we have in battle and that's a shameful statistic to own.
Thankfully, there is a group of returned veterans determined to both honor the sacrifices made and to help returning veterans feel appreciated and unalone. To that end, the VA has created a new site, offering portraits of veterans who have transitioned to civilian life: Strong at Broken Places. From their press release:
Pervasive stereotypes about the downtrodden Veteran have persisted since the Civil War and we still see them throughout popular culture. When we’re in uniform, we’re considered heroes—often thanked for our service—but once we take off the uniform, the world sometimes views us differently.
Given this environment, Veterans can be resistant to speaking openly about their military experiences in the classroom, at work, or with family and friends—thus hampering the reintegration process. At VA, we aim to break that cycle. One way we’re trying to do that is with the launch of Strong at the Broken Places (SATBP). The idea is to convey to civilians and Veterans that success—and healing—after leaving the military is possible.
To kick off the project, we profiled and photographed 12 Veterans—some who have struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of limb, the feeling of isolation and apprehension about what comes next—but who have ultimately transitioned from the military and gone on to lead successful and meaningful lives. The goal of SATBP is to remind everyone that Veterans carry on after their service. We know coming home isn’t always easy but we hope that Vets will see fellow Veterans speak candidly about their transition process and it will encourage others to do the same—and to not be reluctant to seek out help and support.
On this Veterans' Day, as we pause to remember the sacrifice of our service members, please take a moment to look over Strong at Broken Places to see the healing that is possible with support.
And to the veterans who read C&L day after day, happy Veterans' Day...and thank you.
Please note we have a series of posts related to Veterans Day on our Occupy America page.