PTSD: When Every Day is Memorial Day

For many Memorial Day means sales, cookouts and swimming but for a growing segment of our population it is a day when the ghosts come out- the memories flood in, survivor guilt, and visits to forgotten graves. Memorial day is about the cost of war. Just like the Baby Boomers are associated with the Draft and the Vietnam War, as Millennials we have borne the brunt of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- notably the longest war in American history. While the death count of American soldiers is not what it was in Vietnam (nor anything remotely close to the civilian count in Iraq and Afghanistan) the cost of the trauma of these wars is evident in the increasing diagnoses of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Over 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans now have PTSD and that number is growing.

But rather than quote more statistics and try to explain the horrors of PTSD, let me share with you a poem off of one of the many PTSD survivor’s websites.

Thank You Soldier (By Chris Woolnough)

Have you stopped to thank a veteran today?
For the price of freedom they had to pay?

Did you gaze into those distant eyes?
Did you see the ghosts he can’t deny?

Did you think a soldier’s heart was made of steel?
Because he was trained to kill, he couldn’t feel?

Did you see the guilt written on his face,
For the loss of life he can’t replace?

Did you know he mourns the lives he couldn’t save,
And walks with comrades in their grave?

Did you remember the boy with innocence lost?
Do you really know war’s ultimate cost?

Have you felt the blast of artillery fire?
Do you have the courage it would require?

Have you stood in trenches consumed with fear?
Felt the enemies breath so very near?

Have you walked with God on a battleground?
Seen your brothers dead or dying all around?

Have you stopped to thank a vet today,
Or did you just turn and walk away?
From the pain he’ll carry for the rest of his life,

Did you consider his family, his children, his wife?
That watch him suffer in silence each and every day,
As he’s haunted by memories that don’t go away?

Did you care that the soldier is still pulling guard?
That his heart, mind, and soul will forever be scarred?

Do you know how he suffers from ptsd?
Or that our precious freedom is never free?

Do you care that he still hears the blood curdling screams?
Or that he returns to the war each night in his dreams?

Have you felt the sorrow of a combat vet?
Or would you rather just forget?
That war has pierced his hardened heart,
And torn this soldier all apart?

Would you rather our heroes just fade away?
Or will you stop to thank a vet today?

For more information on PTSD and ways that you can help, click here.


Originally from the West Coast, Zuska has lived in Washington DC and New York City for the past ten years. Her mission is to bring creativity and randomness to the dreary world of politics. Ever an idealist, she believes that the current political logjam could be easily settled if the Republicans and Democrats simply sat down and engaged in some hardcore Halo. This, along with her dream of a turtle revolution (don’t ask), has led her to shelve her PhD work in politics, at least for the time being, and get her “ya-yas” out in the exciting world of Social Media where being slightly insane is actually a bonus. She doesn’t know her left from her right (seriously) and is also a surprisingly atrocious speller. Her life philosophy is that every problem, whether big or small, can be solved with a piping hot cup of coffee. Zuska writes about social media, international politics, geekdom, marriage, religion, and general randomness. While she wanders far and wide, her home base will always be Think Coffee in the Village. She currently resides in New York City with her husband and three cats- Tonks, Luna, and Ginny.
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