Wounded Veterans Part of Growing Amputee Population – How Can We Provide Support?

Wounded veterans contribute to the increasing global crisis of limb amputations that experts at WHO and other international organizations say are steadily rising. At this point, there are probably close to or over 2 million amputees in the United States alone, and over 32 million worldwide. Many are siting what they call an “epidemic” of amputees.

As well as earthquakes, disease and accidents, many of our younger U. S. amputees are a result of the continued war in Iraq and Afganistan. Why is that? The answer has multiple reasons. First, not as many of our soldiers are dying from their injuries. WWII saw a mortality rate of 30%. Vietnam saw a rate or 24% while the Iraq/Afganistan mortality rate has dropped to an amazing 10%. More soldiers survive, so we see a rise in complications of their original injuries – – oftentimes resulting in amputations. Secondly, IEDs present the largest contributor in this Purple Hearted population. Our better armour in both machine and clothing protects vital body parts, but not necessarily all body parts. Extremities remain at risk.

Recovery, recuperation, and rehabilitation can stress the wounded soldier, the family and the military support system itself. Once the veteran is finally ready to come home, what additional assistance will be needed? Depending on which limbs were lost, the answer could be minimal to major. If one or both legs were amputated, then house renovations may be necessary. Are the doorways large enough? Are there stairs – – leading into or out of the house, as well as inside the house? Are the bathrooms large enough? Is there room for adaptive equipment and handrails?

Even though the VA provides most necessary supplies, who pays for house renovations? Who builds & pays for a wheelchair ramp (if necessary)? Who pays for enlarging the doorways and kitchen and/or bathroom? Uncle Sam is not going to pick up those tabs. Those costs are, unfortunately, left to the family or others who wish to help. And how are the families suppose to pay for all of these needed renovations and modifications to their homes? Well, that is exactly the right question.

There are various groups out there who do try and help our wounded veterans in whichever way that they can. There is a wonderful article listed on PBS with a ton of supportive websites. It can be found at http://www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert/remembrance/wounds.html

Other groups found are:

* Freedom is Not Free – helps injured service members and their families with travel expenses, mortgage and utility bills and special beds for burn victims.

* Building Homes for Heroes – committed to supporting these extraordinary men and women, with a goal to build homes for families in dire need.

* Heroes at Home – a program Sears Holdings has created in partnership with Rebuilding Together is committed to bringing warmth, safety and accessibility to homeowners who do not have the financial or physical resources to complete home repairs and other necessary improvements.

* Homes for Troops – raises donations of money, building materials and professional labor and coordinates the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently at no cost to the veteran or their family.

* Project H.E.R.O. – to improve the lives of disabled veterans across the United States by combining the volunteer spirit and expertise of the International Code Council (ICC) and International Code Council Foundation (ICCF) with the home rehabilitation expertise of Rebuilding Together and its dedicated Veterans Services Department.

If you are interested in helping the organizations listed, please contact them to do so. If you would like to make a more personal contribution to a specific veteran or their family, you can do that too. It is possible to help support these wounded heroes and build them a residual income at the same time. That way your support will last for years to come.