Caledonia Author Back After Testimony in Washington
By Ryan Cummings
CALEDONIA - A local family and author are invited to Washington D.C. to testify in front of Congress. 13 News had their testimony Wednesday. Thursday, we sit down with the author to find out why the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is such a big concern to veterans.
Caledonia author Ilona Meagher says, "They shouldn't be penalized for having to pick up the phone." She testified Wednesday in the nation's capitol.
So did Mike and Kim Bowman of Forreston. Two years ago, their son Tim committed suicide 8 months after coming home from Iraq. "Veterans are generally about twice the rate, double, of suicide over the civilian population," says Meagher.
Meagher wanted to make sure the statistics were out there to let people know how hard it is to transition from war to family life. She says the Department of Veterans Affairs is underfunded and soldiers need help getting screened for post traumatic stress disorder. "They're wearing our uniform. They're our brothers and sisters. They're serving in our name and we do have a responsibility to take care of them."
The daily life of war is a lot different from the way things are here at home. She says the first six months are critical in helping the veterans get back to the lives they had before they left. That, she says, is a huge challenge. "They either lay down positive coping skills, things like dealing with the stress, dealing with anger, dealing with frustration, or they can lay down negative coping skills like self-medicating with alcohol or with other illicit drugs or anger toward the family."
Meagher and the Bowman family plan to meet with Illinois Congressman Don Manzullo sometime in January. Meagher says Manzullo wants to make sure all services are available for soldiers who serve in Illinois National Guard.