The psychological phenomenon of “blame the victim” has a few cultural applications but it’s not often thought of in terms of veterans returning from combat. We ask so much of them and give little in return. After all we are not what we say, we are what we do, that goes for us as a culture. There is much rhetoric and posturing about respect and even cannonizing vets but when it comes right down to what do they have? Chronic pain, a tepid economy, a health care agency in crisis, and little understanding of their experience. So what do we do? Cut the wires to the alarms that are going off by over medicating their pain and setting them up for addiction. We train them to not show weakness, uncertainty, or vulnerability not to mention to kill and then set them up for failure when they try to re-enter society and marginalize them as “difficult”, “angry” “violent” and “unreachable” there is no doubt that the combat vet is a difficult population, but we are not doing a very good job of taking care of them from an emotional and psychological perspective. Consider that almost 1/2 of returning vets are on potentially dangerous narcotics to manage pain. Consider that some research informs us that as many as 22 vets a day commit suicide. It doesn’t sound as though we are a thankful population. To me it sounds like we are part of the problem, gratitude would be proper care and help to be functional in a world that is vastly different than military combat. Country western anthems and throwing out the first pitch is nice and all but it’s not helping the 22 suicides per day.
Rebound Brooklyn is deeply committed to pro bono work. We understand that most people can not hire us. We would sincerely like to deliver quality, medically supervised addiction treatment to all who need it. That isn’t realistic. What we can do is take a combat vet into our program and help them and their family. Currently we are looking for someone who could benefit from this help. Please contact rebound by email if you or someone you know would be a candidate.
Scott Bienenfeld, M.D.