Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –A Minnesota mom worries her soldier son is not getting the help he needs for the stress of war. She wants that to change — before it’s too late.
“It just gets so hard. I just get so anxious myself wanting the best for him,” said Sue Dack.
Sue’s son, Jesse, was a sergeant and spent a year in Iraq. He saw combat, though he doesn’t talk about it much.
Sue says he doesn’t need to. His story is told through his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“As a mother, you just want your son to have the best life, but, I don’t know, this post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s kind of like he left part of his soul over there. It really is. Because when he came back, he was just totally different,” said Sue.
Jesse was diagnosed when he returned home a few years ago. He had anxiety, depression, trouble concentrating and, at times, he would become angry.
“When he has to go into a restaurant, he has to sit with his back towards the wall so he can see everything,” said Sue.
Jesse started to drink just to fall asleep. So, in February, he contacted the St. Cloud VA Medical Center seeking help, but was told he’d have to wait three weeks to get in. And that’s not unusual for some veterans seeking help a second time.
“It makes me mad because they put their lives on the line over there and when they come back, some of them don’t have a life like they used to. Not enough is being done to help them,” said Sue.
In 2006, 900,000 veterans nation-wide sought mental health assistance. Five years later, that number increased to 1.2 million. VA’s across the country have increased staff by 62 percent and they say they could use more.
Jesse ended up waiting about a week, but for his girlfriend, Questa Jibben, it felt much longer. She says what’s most frustrating is that Jesse has a lot of potential.
“These are our vets, you know? They are doing their job, so we need to do our job to make sure they are getting what they need,” said Jibben.
Sen. Al Franken released the following statement about mental health assistance for veterans: “As more and more soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan, we have to ensure that the VA, the Veterans Administration, has the resources it needs to address all of their physical and psychological needs.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar released a similar statement: “There wasn’t a line when our men and women in uniform signed up to serve our country, and there shouldn’t be a waiting line when they come home and need our support.”
Jesse was a highly decorated soldier, winning the top award in his company of about 90 men.