May 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Veterans Who Came Home

(Courtesy of SMGH) Memorial Day honors our brave military personnel who died in the performance of their duties. But we are missing a major problem with those who come home. As one veteran, a member of Heroes to Heroes said: “We train very hard on how to go to war, but we never train on how to come home!”

Too many come home with serious disfigurements, missing limbs and mental issues that affect the way they lead their daily lives. Imagine you’re in combat with explosions all around. The sights, smells, noises, fear and adrenaline surge are overwhelming, but you push through.

Except that you aren’t there at all. You’re in a shopping mall or your living room or driving a car, reliving a battle you fought years prior. It’s as real now as it was then, such that you feel like you’re in two worlds at once.

That is the terrifying and dangerous reality for veterans who experience flashbacks of varying degrees. They suffer with restlessness, can’t sleep at night, paranoid of loud noises, forgetfulness and much more.

These poor veterans are suffering with moral injury, which is defined as the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress their own moral and ethical values or code of conduct.

Examples of potentially morally injurious events include killing or harming others, when officers have to make decisions that affect the survival of others, when medics are not able to care for all who were harmed, freezing or failing to perform a duty during a dangerous or traumatic event (for example, falling asleep on patrol), failing to report an event that violates rules or ethics, engaging in or witnessing acts of disproportionate violence and feeling nothing or exhilaration while causing harm to or killing others.

These veterans come home with PTSD, depression and combat-related guilt which makes it difficult for them to hold a job and can also lead to suicide—17 veterans a day commit suicide. And the numbers are climbing every year. On any given night, there are an estimated 50,000 veterans homeless in America!

The VA Hospitals help the veterans as best as they can, but it is often difficult to get a timely appointment, or perhaps specialized care is required. The Veterans Administration has a program whereby local hospitals can partner with the VA to treat veterans. In most cases, veterans must receive approval from the VA before receiving care from a community provider to avoid being billed for the care. VA staff members generally make all eligibility determinations for community care.

Heroes to Heroes:

Heroes to Heroes Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation founded in NJ that provides spiritual healing and peer support for American Combat Veterans who have attempted suicide or are on a path to self-destruction due to moral injury. Their success rate is quite high, as these are people who know first-hand the struggles that our veterans live with every day. Listen to some of their stories or read about how Heroes to Heroes helps veterans!

Much more is needed to help these heroes who did their best to help protect us and to enable us to go on with our daily lives and learn Torah! “St. Mary’s General Hospital proudly provides excellent medical care for veterans,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison and a veteran of the U.S. Army. “Our Behavioral Health program is one of the best in NJ, and maybe the country! Together with our sister hospital St. Clare Hospital we educate new psychiatrists with our Psychiatry Residency Program. But most importantly, today we can help you with either outpatient or inpatient treatments. And our Psychiatric Medical Care Unit Team and social workers are available to help provide a smooth continuum of care for patients with special post-discharge needs. If you are a veteran and suffering with moral injury, please contact the VA staff in East Orange for approval to come to St. Mary’s General Hospital. If you need any more information, please contact me directly.”

Bless Our Veterans:

May Hashem help heal all the veterans and their families who are suffering from war wounds and the families of our fellow veterans who died in, or as a result of, combat, so that the ideals of democracy continue to grow and develop in our world. We thank you for your service and for keeping us all safe and able to live our lives and learn Torah!

My fellow veterans, I salute you and thank you for your service!

George Matyjewicz

St. Mary’s General Hospital–nationally recognized, locally preferred–among the top hospitals in America for health, quality, and patient safety! A center of excellence for maternal-child, the hospital has over 550 physicians and 1,200 employees, with every staff member committed to providing respectful, personalized, high-quality care – to satisfy patients’ needs and exceed their expectations. St. Mary’s General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has more Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country including a “Top 15 Healthcare System” by Truven Health Analytics. To learn more about how St. Mary’s General Hospital visit https://www.smh-nj.com/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StMarysGeneral.

For more information, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, Community Liaison at [email protected]

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