Forum: Must meet medical needs of ‘wounded warriors’
November 9, 2012 8:38PM
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:43AM
Today we honor and remember the men and women who have defended our country through military service. Because of their sacrifice, we have enjoyed liberty and freedom for more than 200 years.
A lesson we learned from the Vietnam era is the importance of recognizing and supporting our veterans when they return home. We have thousands of veterans returning home from the prolonged conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a physician, I am particularly interested in making sure that we meet their health care needs.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the acute inpatient rehabilitation unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. This was an unforgettable event. The courage and determination of the returning “wounded warriors” who were dealing with horrendous, life-altering injuries were inspiring.
I spent time at the bedside of a young man who grew up on a farm in Kansas and whose goal was to return home and help his family. He was a turret gunner in an armored vehicle that was blown up by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Because of the incredible capabilities of modern military medicine, his life was saved but at the cost of both legs and an arm.
He had made tremendous progress in learning how to compensate for the loss of his limbs, but his major disability was a traumatic brain injury that clouded his memory and caused outbursts of emotional rage.
We must recognize that as our veterans return to civilian life, they and their families will be seeking, and indeed expecting, continued care and support for their service-connected injuries — both seen and unseen. By unseen, I refer to traumatic brain injury, post-combat depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which can be complicated by other service-related conditions.
The Illinois State Medical Society calls on physicians to be aware of the special needs of our “wounded warriors” and to make sure they don’t “fall through the cracks.” Let’s honor our military members on this Veterans Day by ensuring that we serve them the way they served us.
William N. Werner, MD
Illinois State Medical Society
Fly U.S. flag today
Please remember to fly the U.S. flag today as we celebrate Veterans Day. It was originally known as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, but Congress changed it in 1954 to honor all veterans who had served in war and times of peace.
These men and women have put their lives on the line to keep us safe and defend our precious freedom. Their invaluable service has, in the past and today, kept this great and wonderful country the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”