The Invictus Games were created by Prince Harry of Wales, who gathered his inspiration from viewing the Warriors games held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia from June 19 – 28, 2015.
While the Invictus Games were a chance for wounded warriors from 14 different nations to participate in competition, there was another reason for the collection of high ranking officials and delegates. From former President George W. Bush, to the Prince of Jordan, to leaders of charitable donations, such as host Ken Fisher, chairman of the Fisher House. They all gathering at a Symposium on May 9th for the Invisible Wounds Symposium hosted by the George Bush Institute.
Through testimony she recognized that the invisible wounds are not treated the same way as physical wounds.
President Bush used his wits and charm to turn a serious conversation into something that could become more relatable while throwing jokes at Prince Harry for his dashing good looks.
“I miss saluting the vets”, he said, “I have great respect for them”.
He emphasized that the games will show the world that these wounds aren’t something that is prevalent to just US and UK military, but that it affects all military service members around the world.
Prince Harry pointed out his story of his tours in Afghanistan and how it changed his view of what is care and what is not.
To paraphrase the prince:
You need family support, good friends and teammates. People hurt get care nonstop, but the ones that survived the blasts had to continue with their daily job and their mission. They look at wounded vets and say “he’s wounded and he needs help, there is nothing wrong with me, I don’t need help.”
The first step has to be that admitting that you have a problem, telling those involved you need help. For a lot of veterans, it’s not part of your DNA. A veteran, through training and sacrifice believes they are invincible.
President Bush was reluctant to speak about the D in PTSD, which stands for Disorder.
“We don’t view it as a disorder, we view it as an injury”. the President emotionally stated, “If I have an injury, I can get it fixed. But if I have a disorder, people will look at me differently”.
The symposium then was changed from conversation to explanation from some of the leading researchers from the Bush Institute. Several key members explained what they found during their research of combat veterans since they began in 2007.
Step two is what needs to be addressed the most. Too many veterans are being misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Many of our civilian doctors don’t know how to care for a veteran or they don’t have the equipment to properly diagnose and treat these invisible wounds.
While suicide is a global epidemic, among the veteran population it is an even more serious problem. One that affects caregivers, the families and the future children of veterans immensely. It is incredibly hard on the families because they are the ones dealing with this problem every day.
Some 648 competitors gathered for closing ceremony, but they are just a small representation of all the wounded warriors across the globe.
In America itself, over 2.8 million Americans have deployed to both theatres since 9/11. Many more will be coming down the pipeline for America’s longest standing war, the war against terror. But so many more fight an invisible war where 15% deployed meet the criteria for PTSD. Other lingering debilitations have been discovered such as Cardiovascular diseases, depression, early on set dementia, decreased work productivity, substance use, relationship problems, homelessness, and the eventual catastrophe of suicide.
If not treated early with intervention, there is a strong chance that our next generation will have behavioral disorders like the fathers and mothers that raise them with PTSD and TBI.
The Invictus games might have closed, but they did so with a bang. Next year Toronto, Canada will host the games, and you can expect for the nations competing to grow in number, as well as the knowledge of the games.
He was right that these games were more than just medals. For a Marine veteran with PTSD and TBI like myself, I had no idea I could even participate. The Warrior Games are the first step towards a chance at Invictus. Like others that were shown that there is something out there for us veterans I have been motivated to get classified and make an attempt for a spot in the games.
Invictus means unconquered, and while many wounded vets felt defeated, it was a solemn reminder to the world that were still here.
See you in Toronto.
For more information about invisible wounds visit www.bushcenter.org/invisiblewounds
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