The first thing I would like to say to all our veterans is a big thank you for fighting for our freedom. This letter is not any way to offend any Veteran. It is to bring out something that is and has been left in the dark for a long time.
The Journal Gazette has written about two very good topics. One was about post traumatic stress disorder and how fireworks affects those individuals, both veterans and civilian workers, who have been in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other article had to do with the civilian workers, the number who have been killed, abducted and injured. I would like to give more information about the civilian workers.
The civilian workers, just like our veterans, went voluntarily for many different reasons. Some because they wanted to do their part in the war in combating terrorism, others because they had family who had enlisted, and some because the workload in the United States was slowing down.
The civilian contractors are just like our veterans, except when they return home and they have lost a body part, have PTSD or other systemic problems after being over in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, there is no support system for them. They are not able to go the Veterans Administration for assistance and the employer they worked for in these two countries basically says, Sorry about your luck.
Some have come home blind because of the sand storms and contracting ocular hystoplasmosis. Most have come home with other illnesses – for example, PTSD, systemic illness and, even worse, leukemia.
These individuals just like our solders gave up their family life to assist our troops because there were not enough solders to do all the jobs. These individuals gave up four or more years away from their families to end up with illnesses and then to be declined by Social Security for disability because they are unable to work. So they have to go through the process of appeals. Some of these individuals are like our solders who have come home to notifications of divorce when their lives have already been through so much.
Somehow we need to recognize these unsung individuals who have been lost in the red tape. Someone should be accountable for assisting them, if not Veterans Affairs then their past employers.
I had two sons who went over to Iraq. Both came home alive (thank God), but they are not the same sons who left the United States. One was in the Army and one was a civilian worker.
I have spent the past two years trying to decide whether I should write this letter, but I believe the time is now. Someone needs to do something about getting our troops and civilians out of these countries – and to assist the civilian works in some way. Now!