I come across many war veterans almost daily. Many are currently living in retirement homes or nursing homes. So it is no surprise that we all take Remembrance day seriously, to pay our respect to those veterans who have served our country many years ago. Although they are all connected through their service in the military, they all have individual stories to tell and different lives as they return to the civilian world.
One war veteran I met was a marathon runner. He seemed to have done well for himself. During my med review visit, he would not stop showing me the collection of newspaper clips of all the races he had been – both before and after the war. He was so proud! I noticed he was physically very frail but admittedly, he was still mentally sharp! This marathon runner has developed the tenacity to survive the war and was able to adjust back to a normal life back home.
I have also met another veteran who seemed to have had a tough time after returning from the war. He had anger issues, drinking problem and sadly, not a strong family support. But his story screamed very loudly to me that he likely had Post traumatic stress disorder that was not investigated, diagnosed or treated. Maybe he was afraid of the stigma, or maybe he was unaware of the condition. Either way, I wonder if his life would have been different if we had paid more attention to his psychological distress.
It is now recognized post-traumatic stress disorder is very prevalent among war veterans. It is a mental illness that can be managed and treated with counselling, medications and / or support groups. If you would like to learn more information about Post-traumatic stress disorder, please visit the Canadian Mental Health Association or click here.
In memories of those who have lost their lives ….
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
By Lieutenant Colonel, John McCrae.