April and Tom Marcum. Pic courtesy of the New York Times.
Last month, we pointed you to an AP story about the difficulties that veterans with disabilities are having as they attempt to collect disability compensation and move on with their lives. Today, the New York Times ran a piece on the toll that war injuries–both physical and psychological–take on servicemembers and their families.
The article introduces us to April and Tom Marcum of Ray City, Georgia. After experiencing a traumatic brain injury during his second tour in Iraq with the US Army, Tom was left with post-traumatic stress disorder, memory loss, and problems controlling his impulses and his anger. April has since quit her job to act as his full-time caretaker.
We also meet Rosie Babin, whose son Alan took a bullet through his abdomen in 2003 that robbed him of 90% of his stomach and a piece of his pancreas. The injuries forced a stroke that left him with permanent brain damage. The military sought to put Alan–who has only recently regained some speech–in a nursing home, but Rosie fought to get him into a rehab center and now cares for him at home.
Many of these caretakers have quit other jobs to care for their loved ones and are dealing with problems like depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Yet despite the sacrifices they–and, of course, their veteran–have already made, the compensation offered to such caretakers tops out at just over $1,800 per month, or $21,600 per year. This is better than nothing, but for many families, it is not nearly enough to compensate for the lost income or depleted savings caused by the injuries sustained on the front lines.
It is heartening to see that the mainstream media is taking notice of the problems faced by veterans with disabilities and their families. These individuals have given up a lot for their country. They deserved to be remembered, and they deserved to be cared for without sending their families to the poor house.