Memorial Day is an emotional day for so many Americans, because we are reminded of the sacrifices made throughout the last century and now, into the twenty first. I am now collecting my thoughts and want to focus mainly on the mental illness and, in particular, the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the fact that some of those serving in our military AND some of our veterans need help; it’s possible that some may be a threat to themselves and to others.
Many underlying issues are important and beyond my discussion. Certainly, we have to find better ways to help our active duty men and women, while they are in service. And, once they leave, we must not leave them. Apart from the trauma that many faced during war, they and other veterans face related, continuing issues; also, they face some of the same challenges other Americans endure — but the vets may also have difficulty adjusting to “civilian life” and have more difficulty coping with everyday concerns. On a broad level, I’m talking about economic opportunity and jobs, affordable housing, transportation to earn a livelihood, and keeping up healthy relationships with spouse, children, extended family and relatives, and a network of supporting friends. What a tragedy when a vet who has served our nation is unemployed, even destitute, possibly even homeless.
I won’t recount the years of controversy about our inadequate support of veterans, and the problems that have plagued the Veterans Administration.
We all agree that war is terrible. But it’s no secret that in modern times, perhaps the war with the greatest consensus for America was World War II, and the Vietnam War may have been the most divisive. And, ever since that war, the support for veterans among so many Americans has been more nuanced than unqualified, though few people will say that. I’m gratified that in recent years, more and more Americans are grateful to those who serve and express their appreciation for their service. We should never judge our military — those who serve — by our opinion of any military action, or how we view the president at the time or political leaders.
All these things — wars and peace, politics and politicians, and thee sociological, economic and mental issues involving the health of our active duty and veterans are beyond my expertise. But I can offer some observations on active duty service people and veterans, in terms of social media, and whether we can channel social media to help despondent and suffering current members of our armed forces as well as
We are talking about at least two government departments that have a shared concern for the physical and mental health of our active duty military and those who are separated, ending their service after a few years or eventually after retirement. So, I’m going to take a field that I know — social media, and relate to my concerns about how our active military and our veterans cope with challenges to their health.
Social media can provide a sense of community, a fast-moving conduit for news and information, and also a vehicle for dialogue and debate. Social media also has a dark side providing a means for predators and bad actors to spread hatred and discord and encourage and even instigate violence.
In sum, social media also can provide an outlet for those who are frustrated and impatient, upset and angry, alienated and depressed. These are not necessarily “bad people” but people who need understanding and empathy, consideration and assistance. Sometimes they are anguished and cry out for help. And yes, some of these folks are on active duty or are veterans. On social media, they provide clues that they maybe a danger to themselves, or even to others. If we can find and interpret those clues in a timely manner, we can help.