As the war in Afghanistan begins to wind down, tens of thousands of soldiers will soon return home, joining the more than two million service members who have also fought in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past eleven years.
On Monday’s Now with Alex Wagner, guest host Ari Melber and the panel talked with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Wood about the challenges service members face re-adjusting to civilian life. To date, more than 50,000 soldiers have returned home with injuries, including leg and arm amputations, and nearly 74,000 are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Over the past four years, the Veteran Affairs Department, led by Eric Shinseki, has tried to get a handle on these problems, but it has found itself overwhelmed that there is a significant backlog of pension and benefit claims, not to mention complaints.
All of this should serve as a wake-up call to the American public, which, for the most part, has escaped the horrors of combat. According to the Pew Research Center, just one-half of 1% of the U.S. population has served on the front lines over the last decade, down significantly from the 12% that fought in World War II.