COMMENTARY | After nine years, a Memorial Day 5K race is finally being run this year in honor of an officer, Joshua T. Byers, outside of Nashville, Tenn., where his brothers reside. Proceeds are going to help veterans handle the lingering effects of PTSD and combat stress. But you don't need to be a runner or a Tennessean to help. The foundation's name is "Not Alone," which provides a hotline, blogs, forums, stories and connections to badly needed care.
Byers, once stationed at Fort Carson, was killed on July 23, 2003, outside of Ramadi, Iraq, when an IED blew up underneath his Humvee. Though fatally wounded, he exhorted his men to continue the mission before perishing. His dying words were "keep moving forward." He left behind a wife, two brothers and his parents who, were Baptist missionaries.
Evidence shows the need is greater than ever. The Associated Press reports while the news of survivability from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are at historic highs, so are the needs of veterans. While most of the attention has gone to the treatment of physical injuries, those who suffer PTSD and combat stress should not be overlooked.
One might remember the scandal faced by former Veterans Administration Director Jim Nicholson a few years ago, when a highly sensitive laptop disappeared for days. What didn't receive as much coverage was how PTSD cases were revamped to increase the chances for a denial of coverage, to save money.
Budgets are tight, and the VA is swamped with those record numbers of applicants. In the meantime, let's see what we can do without waiting for government to fix the problem, and help the group "Not Alone" soldier on, helping our vets "keep moving forward, as Byers would have wanted.