Yesterday, I gave my presentation with slides on Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. I was reminded again of the sacrifice our veterans have made for us. What most Americans don’t realize is that being involved in a fight to the death can damage the psyche permanently. Those of us who have witnessed men killed on the battlefield are changed forever—for the worse.

During the presentation, I cite statistics on suicide rates among veterans: 32 per 100,000 every year, 50 percent higher than non-veterans, 22 a day on average. And I understand why. Sometimes it feels like I can’t bear to live another day with my combat memories. But I, well aware of the damage done to my soul, choose to go on living.

The commonly accepted terminology for the malady is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But I reject that language when applied to combat veterans. The conditi0n resulting from combat is an externally inflicted wound to the soul, not something internal gone awry. So I insist that it be called Post-Traumatic Stress Injury.

Too often in my experience, PTSI is dismissed as cowardice. If anything, it is a symptom of courageousness. Going into battle where one’s life is at risk is not possible without great bravery.

As the years go by and more veterans die off, fewer and fewer Americans suffer from PTSI. Vietnam veterans are now in their sixties and seventies. More recent wars were smaller, resulting in fewer veterans. The result is that combat veterans now constitute a tiny fraction of one percent of our population.

When I meet another combat veteran, I recognize him instinctively, without being told. Don’t ask me how. Somehow I know I’m with my brother. My respect and, yes, love for him are immediate. And permanent.

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