SAN DIEGO, CA- Camp Pendelton is a bit quieter these days. Absent is the inherent tension in the hustle to deploy for war. What is noticeable on the base are the increasing number of men and women who have returned from the battlefield, many with missing limbs and other injuries. Yet, what is often unseen, but felt deeply by many of these soldiers, are the psychological scars they bear. For many of them, life after the battlefield is a daily struggle to cope with isolation, depression, and fear. Fortunately, some find solace and a new sense of purpose through programs like the "Wounded Warrior Games," a sports competition that aims to rehabilitate wounded troops through camaraderie and focus in team spots. Still, many more veterans are suffering, and as more return home, the military is struggling to take care of 2.4 million of them. These are some the their stories.
In his book, "The War Comes Home," investigative journalist Aaron Glantz describes the federal government's failure to provide adequate resources for disabled veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, examining the struggles they face, medical attention that they need, and efforts by families and non-profit groups to help them.
In December 2011 President Obama officially ended the military mission in Iraq. And while the President has said that American troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2014, there are now 2.4 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. By comparison, there are 3 million Vietnam veterans. In addition to the tens of thousands of civilians who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war cost the lives of nearly 4,500 American service members, and wounded more than 32,200 men and women in America's military; a number that continues to grow. Glantz says that many wounded vets have faced — or are still facing — long waits for their disability and other benefits to begin; 900,000 veterans are waiting for benefits and that the number will surpass one million "very soon." Glantz notes that, on average, veterans are waiting 273 days to receive post-war care.