War generates many casualties. Some, such as death and destruction, are visible to the naked eye while others fester just below the surface, in the minds and hearts of those touched by it. And it’s the subtle pains of war that are often forgotten or overlooked by the masses yet, ironically, are felt deeply in so many small towns and family circles across America and the world.
Think about this — a RAND study from 2008 estimates that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who currently have post-traumatic stress disorder (300,000) or who have suffered some form of brain damage (320,000) is roughly more than the population of Denver (610,00), our nation’s 20th largest city. Growing is the number of untreated soldiers who return home to experience severe depression, suicidal tendencies and the many hardships of a postwar life. With the help of doctors, community members, or left to their own devices, our veterans are coming to home to fight a different kind of war — one that haunts them in their sleep and stalks them during the day.
Some say war is part of human nature. We recently traveled to Ketchum, Idaho to explore how nature is helping some veterans heal the pains war creates.