By Marshall Blesofsky
Long Beach, CA
“Born on the Forth of July” is a 1989 movie starring Tom Cruise. The screenplay for this movie is based on the autobiography of Ron Kovic and co-written by him. Ron Kovic was a gung-ho marine who volunteered to serve his country and, like the many Iraq and Afghanistan service people, he tried to “bring democracy to Vietnam.” On his second tour of duty 40 years ago, he was shot and paralyzed from his mid-chest down. He became and is an anti-war activist.
Kovic talked on the anniversary of his wounding:
“…I was shot and paralyzed from my mid-chest down during my second tour of duty in Vietnam. It is a date that I can never forget, a day that was to change my life forever. Each year as the anniversary of my wounding in the war approached I would become extremely restless, experiencing terrible bouts of insomnia, depression, anxiety attacks and horrifying nightmares. I dreaded that day and what it represented, always fearing that the terrible trauma of my wounding might repeat itself all over again. It was a difficult day for me for decades and it remained that way until the anxieties and nightmares finally began to subside.”
Ron Kovic writes about his experiences with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In Iraq alone, US forces have suffered 30,000 wounded and, of the one million who have served in Iraq, almost 50% are estimated to have a stress disorder. Who will take care of these returning veterans? Based on the past, efforts by the government to care for these people have been a failure. According to US government statistics, almost 25% of homeless people are veterans of past wars. How many are living marginal existences because of their war physical and psychological wounds we can only imagine. Kovic has recently spent time in the Long Beach California Veterans Administration Hospital as a patient. Not much had changed since the 1960s. According to Kovic, paralyzed Iraq vets experience overcrowding, lack of staffing, equipment breakdowns and lack of funding The conclusion is that our government has already proven it cannot care for those men and women who have sacrificed so much for their country.