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The Signature Wounds of War

The prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) among our returning Warriors has caused experts to label them the “SIGNATURE” wounds of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Furthermore, these Warriors who return home undiagnosed are unaware of what to look for and left without Hope.
It has been 14 years since the very first report was published about the “Signature” wounds of war and still there has been little done to help stop, prevent, or stem the tide of PTSD/TBI.  Yet once home and no longer serving, our Valiant Veterans are faced with a huge uphill battle to try and get help as many are left unaware. These 14 years of inaction, failed policy, and breakdown in Cultural Competence has devastated our Veteran community and produced the following;

  •     22: Warriors commit suicide each day (1 every 65 minutes)
  •     4X: a veteran with TBI is 4x more likely to commit suicide than one without if not treated.
  •     90%: The Divorce Rate for Warriors w/ PTSD

The Timeline of Reports

  • In 2004 when it was first reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that 1-in-8 returning Soldiers and Marines would suffer from PTSD: But LESS than HALF with problems seek help mostly out of FEAR of being Stigmatized or Hurting their careers.
  • In 2006 another study reported that among returning veterans, up to 18.5% are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Hoge et al., 2006; Tanielian and Jaycox, 2008; Smith et al., 2008).
  • In August 2009 a study of veterans with PTSD published by the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that 47% had suicidal thoughts before seeking treatment and 3% attempted to kill themselves.
  • In Feb 2012 the CBO reported that the suicide rate among Veterans is at an all time high of 22 a day 
  • From the 2012 CBO Report the concern was raised that the VA & DOD resourcewere inadequate to meet the need of assisting our Veterans who are suffering with PTSD & TBI.

957,441 Veterans of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom have transitioned back to civilian life without adequate transitional assistance, as only 52% (498,737) of them received VA benefits and/or services 09/30/08”, with less than 40% of veterans with PTSD seeking help.  While there is no compiled statistical suicide data from the Veterans Administration (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) to get the overall number of Active Duty and Veterans themselves who’ve committed suicide; what a CBS News investigative report from February 2009 discovered was stunning.
Nearly 1 in 5 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer with PTSD or TBI  and are unaware of what the symptoms are or what to do. For these veterans’ the suicide rate is almost twice the national average and 2 out of 3 of their marriages are failing according to Military Ministry.

Camp Freedom Ranch: Cover the Gaps in Care

Camp Freedom Ranch (CFR) has been established to cover that gap in care. Our Wounded Veterans and their Families are struggling without the adequate resources they need for the current battle they are fighting with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  Although the war overseas is slowing down, the one right here at home to combat the effects that PTSD/TBI is having amongst our warriors is growing.

CFR was created to meet the emerging needs among our Veterans who have made the transition back to civilian life, never been diagnosed, and are struggling with PTSD / TBI yet are unaware of the symptoms.  Our goal is to provide them with the support and resources needed to ensure a successful and sustainable future.  The alarming suicide rate that exists among these warriors is unacceptable as many of them hit an emotional wall within 48 months of leaving active duty and see no other way out.

The situation exists, the problems are real, and our veterans and their families are left alone to try and seek help (if they even know that they should) all the while suffering in silence. These “Signature” wounds when left undiagnosed, unacknowledged, untreated, or poorly addressed, result in the needless suffering and injuries that lead to marital/family failure, tremendous difficulty in obtaining and retaining a good job, in or out of the service, inability to rejoin community and find satisfaction, alcohol or drug addictionhopelessnessdepression, and even SUICIDE.

While there has been many more reports and studies done since the 2004 initial report, there still has been little progress accomplished to help our Veterans and their families. Furthermore, the inaction, slow bureaucracy, and a mentality of “kicking the can down the road” only exacerbates the issue and keeps it out of the Public eye so that nothing ever gets done.  In addition, there are the missteps and failures by the VA that we all have seen on the evening news and just as troubling is the major breakdown in Cultural Competence between most VA Doctors and the Veterans they treat. This failure to understand whom they are treating and the virtues they espouse causes unnecessary conflict and creates a lack of trust amongst veterans towards those within the VA.

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