FAMILY AND MARRIAGE: The price of freedom

  • Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2012 6:54 p.m.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” – Prime Minister Winston Churchill

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” – Bible

Kevin was honorably discharged from the Army after several deployments in the Middle East and Afghanistan. He was a medic and tended to the severely injured.

While not diagnosed with any war wound himself, he carries the scars of those with whom he served.

He has a wife and young son. He returned home to the Augusta area this year and was unable to find a job. His finances and marriage were teetering. Keep reading to see what happened to Kevin.

There’s been a lot of talk about the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This can be measured by years or by the cost in dollars, but the real price our nation has paid has been by the men and women who wear the uniform.

Long deployments, wartime experiences, and injuries all present challenges once these men and women we call Warriors return home.

Separation can take a toll on families. While the Warrior is off half a world away, doing his or her job, the family goes on. The spouse who is left behind shoulders 100 percent of the responsibility for the home and the children.

When deployments are lengthened or leaves revoked, they must soothe disappointment in themselves and their children.

This separation is equally difficult for the Warrior who feels helpless when there is trouble at home, or when he misses major life events.

Warriors who return home wounded, ill, or injured face additional battles. Some may feel unneeded, angry, or isolated.

Occasionally, veterans who return isolate themselves and this may cost them their families.

Some survive wounds or illnesses that are invisible and are never diagnosed.

A recent study suggests 20 percent of the 2.8 million who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan sustained invisible wounds such as traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress.

Even Warriors who return from the field unscathed do not return unchanged. Wartime experiences change people.

It must be said, however, that most who wear the uniform come back more mature, better able to handle their lives, better trained, more disciplined and ready to become active citizens in their communities.

When help is needed, it is the community’s turn to serve.

In the Aiken and Augusta area, the Augusta Warrior Project (AWP) is well positioned to help Warriors find the bridges they need between the wars abroad and success at home.

AWP does three things – helps Warriors with critical life issues such as housing, education, benefits and employment, educates the community about the needs of Warriors and how the community can support them and creates and provides models for service to communities throughout the country.

On Veterans Day we must do more than pity the wounded. All those who serve willingly put themselves in harm’s way knowing that they could die for those they serve.

All have left family and lives here for the uncertainty of service in the military.

About 2.5 million people have served in the current conflicts and of those about 50,000 have been classified as wounded in war-related events.

Some groups focus only on the 50,000; other groups focus on one aspect of veteran care.

AWP focuses on all Warriors in the local area, wounded or not, from all eras. The best estimate is that we have 66,000 veterans in the CSRA.

AWP wants every veteran in the CSRA to BE KNOWN. Give AWP a call at 706-951-7506. Register with the Veterans Administration.

Don’t assume you do not qualify for benefits. If you have any problems let AWP help.

The rest of the story for Kevin: He called AWP for help. The advocate he spoke with helped him find counseling for his whole family and got him enrolled in the VA and in college.

He is now on track to graduate and his benefits help pay the bills.

This article was contributed to by the AWP and we thank them for their ongoing help to our Warriors and their families.

The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken, Inc. (FAMCO) provides resources for you to succeed in your marriage and families. Roger Rollins, executive director of FAMCO, can be reached at 640-4689, rogerrollins@aikenfamco.com or www.aikenfamco.com.

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