A triple whammy of pandemic, civil unrest and
political turmoil is motivating many veterans
By Chrisanne Gordon, MD
As a rehabilitation physician focused on healing the physical and emotional wounds of military veterans, especially those still struggling with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) suffered in their service to America, I am very aware of new challenges facing so many of them today. Nearly 750,000 American heroes, injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, still struggle daily with these issues. But now a harsh new reality is making health care, education and employment even more challenging than ever.
I call this the Triple Whammy of 2020, a perfect storm of disruption that’s brought us a deadly pandemic and economic shutdown, followed by civil unrest and protests in our streets – all made worse by loud and divisive political debate. Yet in the face of these challenges virtually all of the returned servicemen and women I know are revealing a common strength. Described in one word, that strength is “service,” our veterans’ commitment to serving their families, their local communities, and their nation. It’s a commitment that doesn’t end when these men and women leave the military.
It’s revealing that so many of the healthcare workers, first responders, law enforcement and other front-line workers today are veterans who were led to those professions by their passion for service. Joining with active-duty military and National Guard called in to assist, they are serving their nation today on a very different kind of battlefield.
Thousands of other veterans are also stepping up to offer voluntary but equally important supports, such as delivering meals, working in food banks or assisting the elderly and others in need. For the injured veterans I know, these opportunities to serve – to make a difference – are important steps in their rehabilitation.
The combined impact of pandemic, recession, civil unrest and political turmoil has produced a new wave of confusion, anxiety, depression and hopelessness to all of us. But to veterans already faced with lingering symptoms of their service-related injuries, it adds an entirely different level of confusion, a burden you and I can never truly fathom, but one we need to begin to understand.
All of this has increased my commitment to the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, a non-profit organization I founded with a goal of seeing that combat veterans TBI and PTSD receive expert medical care, rehabilitation and community support services they need for a successful return to civilian life. Our goal is to keep our former military service members in “service” to their families and communities by collaborating for their brain health. In these days of Triple Whammy, that’s never been more important.
As Americans, we proudly bear allegiance to our “land of the free and home of brave.” But we must never forget that we are privileged to live in the land of the free because of the brave – those men and women who put their lives of the line for our freedom who continue to serve us long after they’ve returned home.
Today’s members of the military, our veterans, their families – the most diverse, the most united and the most determined American resource. Triple Whammy? They’ve survived worse. Let’s follow them to freedom.
# # #
Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, author of Turn the Lights On! is an Ohio-based physician who has personally struggled to recover from a brain injury, an experience that inspired her to create the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, to help military veterans recover from TBI.