Did you know that more wounded military personnel today are being saved on the battlefield, than any other time in our history, thanks to the care medics perform as well as more effective body armor? But those who are saved may suffer limb amputation, multiple limb amputation, serious head injuries, vision and hearing loss, traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress, and more. 

Many of them suffer from a combination of these wounds; in fact, they fall under what military physicians have named, polytrauma. According to Dr. Ronald Glasser, Vietnam veteran and author of several books about war, including 365 Days and Wounded, polytrauma means “Today’s survivors are more damaged—and damaged in more and different ways than anyone had expected—nor had ever seen before.” 

The wounds they suffer will require life-long care. And once these men and women go from active duty to veteran status, their care will come from the Veterans Administration. 

Unfortunately our Veterans Administration is failing in that care. As Dr. Glasser writes in Wounded, his eloquent expose of the wounds our soldiers suffer, “There is little to suggest that the VA—an overburdened and underfunded system—can handle the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan once they are released from the Department of Defense care.” 

Perhaps many of us think that once a soldier is wounded, he or she will be forever taken care of. Sadly, tragically, that isn’t the case in The United States.

Dr. Glasser sees these wounds first hand. He is both active as a doctor as well as an author attempting to spread the word to all of us, that these men and women suffer tremendous burdens when they return, and they need, they deserve tremendous support.

We can easily argue over the fact that they do or do not receive adequate care from the VA; we can argue over which political party will help them enough. I like a good argument, but in this case, arguing accomplishes nothing. No wounded veteran wins through our arguing. 

Perhaps instead, like Dr. Glasser, we can get involved in helping them ourselves. There are many organizations, aside from the VA, that assist veterans daily. Some of them take donations, others need volunteers. I just want to tell you about one.

I first learned about Homes Four Our Troops (HFOT) a few years ago from a friend, whose father also happens to be a Vietnam veteran. I do not take credit for the information here about HFOT, I only want to spread the word about an amazing organization helping our veterans.

Their mission is simple, “To build mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured Veterans post-9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives.” The homes are built where the veteran chooses to live, with their specific injuries in mind. HFOT wants to help the veteran and the veteran’s family focus on recovery and living meaningful lives.

“Since 2004, HFOT has built 225 specially adapted homes nationwide.” Their goal is to build a home for every Veteran who qualifies for one of their homes.

Their mission may be simple, but to accomplish it, as a non-profit organization, HFOT needs help in the form of donations, fundraisers, and volunteers. You can visit their Ways to Support Our Mission section to see how you can offer support. If you like to run, you can join a Run for HFOT. You can even simply purchase items from their online store.

I urge you to visit their website and read the Stories that Inspire. And I challenge you, dare we become a nation that shares the weight of their burdens as our own, or will we remain one that allows the veterans’ burdens to be carried only by the military, even as we reap the protections our military provides? 

“They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.” 

-Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Sara Ohlin

Puget Sound based writer, Sara Ohlin is a mom, wannabe photographer, obsessive reader, ridiculous foodie, and the author of the upcoming contemporary romance novels, Handling the Rancher and Salvaging Love. You can find her essays at Anderbo.com, Feminine Collective, Mothers Always Write, Her View from Home, and in anthologies such as Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Healthcare in America, and Take Care: Tales, Tips, & Love from Women Caregivers. Find her at www.saraohlin.com