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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’

I can’t imagine the pain and stress of a service member’s funeral. The hurt, confusion and anger of losing a loved one on top of dealing with paper work and red tape would drive anyone to emotional extremes.

And it does. Fights between family members over how and where service members should be laid to rest have prompted lawmakers to start crafting legislation to quell the feuds.

Turns out state law — not DoD paperwork — is the determining factor in who claims the body. In one case, that meant an absent father got preference over the single mother who raised a fallen soldier, even though the soldier had designated his mother as his emergency contact. The father decided to bury the son in a state he’d never even been to. The mother was understandably devastated.

In Georgia, the new law requires the state to be true to the service member selected on DoD forms. Several other states are following.

We can’t legislate civility among fractious families. But if new laws can guarantee a service member’s final wishes are respected, surely that can be of some comfort to grieving families.

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Thanks to chats and texts, abbreviations now abound in our common speech. This is nothing new for members of the military community; they speak their own subset of English that raises ? from most of the outside world. But a couple of  military-related truncations are now part of the popular consciousness, thanks to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

TBI is the signature injury among service members. PTSD was first diagnosed back in the 1990s but is now so common, it no longer merits spelling out.  The VA estimates 20 percent of service members from the front suffer from it; other estimates are as high as one third.

So is it appropriate to add those four letters to a DL?  ICYMI, lawmakers down in GA seem to think so. They passed legislation that would allow current and former service members to request it be added as a medical condition on their driver’s licenses.

It’s a move that’s military family and veteran support groups are voicing concerns about. Kim Scofi, chapter president of OH Georgia, developed a survey on the topic; click here to share your thoughts.

The military is notoriously self-reliant and reluctant to ask for help, especially when it comes to mental health issues. I know the folks in Georgia who came up with and passed this law did it in the spirit of helping veterans. But IRL,  I can’t imagine service members and veterans suffering from PTSD will voluntarily label themselves on a document that gets passed around as often and as publicly as a driver’s license. I worry that by singling out stressed soldiers, by making an issue of a condition that manifests differently in everyone, we are still too focused on the problem, even exacerbating it.  But that’s JMHO.

We need to put our energy, expertise and funds toward a solution to the pain these families are in, and we need to do it ASAP.

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