Many veterans don't share their invisible wounds of war

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March 20, 2013, 8:16 am
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(NECN) - Over the past decade, the transition from the war zone to the home front has been very difficult for many veterans and their families. Roughly 30,000 veterans from New England are struggling with the invisible wounds of war: post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

Many of these veterans will never seek help, and one local program is hoping to change that.

“That's me in Iraq back in 2006, with some of the kids in the community,” says Bob Davis as he looks at a photo.

It's hard to see it in his face, or hear it in his voice, but the retired army reservist had a hard time adjusting to life after coming home from two tours of duty in Iraq.

“I had trouble sleeping at different points. I had some behavioral concerns and I worked through them with the help of friends and family.”

Bob sought professional help, but many veterans will never tell anyone about their invisible battle wounds.

Nationwide, 18 veterans commit suicide daily, mainly as a result of mental health issues.

As a result of these startling statistics, since 2009, the Red Sox Foundation/Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program has been providing veterans with clinical care for post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

Retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond is Home Base's executive director.

“If you had to operate in an environment for 12 months where there is no safe place, whether it's when you go to sleep at night on a base, because there's Afghan soldiers who may turn on you at a moment, come in and shoot you while you are asleep... you have this hypersensitivity that you just don't shut off immediately… So when you hear something, you automatically look for it. When you're driving down the road you automatically scan for targets…For many of these young folks, that transition is a real tough challenge for them to accomplish by themselves.”

At Home Base, veterans never feel alone. Vet to vet contact is a critical part of the treatment process.
And Home Base is also the only organization in the country treating veterans and family members together.

Bob is doing fine today because he reached out for help. And now, as Home Base's veteran outreach coordinator, he's urging his fellow veterans to do the same.

“Get it through your community. Get it from your family. Reach out to a friend. Go to a website. Don't do nothing. Do something and you will find on the other end, there is always someone willing to help.”

Veterans seeking help from the Home Base program will never have to pay a dime for services. If you're a veteran and feel as if you're not back to the way you were before leaving for combat, you're urged to visit the Home Bbase website at:

Tags: Kristy Lee, Iraq War, veterans, PTSD, support, Home Base Program, 10 year anniversary, mental health issues
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