About Transforming the Wounds of War
Since the beginning of the global war on terror in September 2001, over 1.6 million American troops have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Women constitute 16% of the current military force. One third of troops have served at least two tours in a combat zone, over 70,000 have been deployed three times, and over 20,000 have been deployed at least five times.
Over 700,000 American children have at least one parent deployed. The stressful operational demands and recurring deployments have caused challenges for soldiers and their families that are unprecedented in recent history. Over 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed in the current wars.
Life for those who survive and for their families will be forever changed. Veterans are returning with wounds both visible and invisible. Over 25,000 have already been granted permanent disability because of a range of physical wounds. In addition to these physical wounds, the U.S. military estimates that between 25 and 30 percent of all returning service members are struggling with psychological injuries. The recent Rand Study found that approximately 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are currently suffering post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or severe depression and 320,000 most likely have traumatic brain injuries. Mental health professionals also note increased rates of psychological pain, antisocial behavior and suicide among veterans of the Vietnam War as repressed trauma is triggered by current events in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The social effects of combat for both combatant and family are significant. An Army-funded study found reports of “severe aggression” against spouses ran more than three times higher among Army families than among civilian families. Domestic violence shelters find that since the start of the current war, not only have rates of domestic violence risen but the lethality of spousal attacks has sharply increased. A recent study found that cases of parental neglect and abuse of children increase threefold when one parent is deployed.
Although veterans of all wars constitute 11% of the US population, they represent 23% of the homeless. Veterans’ rates of alcoholism and drug addiction are significantly higher than among non-veterans. Suicide rates among veterans are twice that of the general population.
Just the Beginning…
TWOW is a training that enables religious leaders and faith communities to develop skills and programs to assist veterans to work through the spiritual and emotional issues they face as a result of participating in war. The goal is healing of their invisible wounds, helping them become productive citizens and bearers of life and healing for others.