They come home one by one to families, loved ones and friends or in large groups. Whether they arrive from a year long deployment as individuals or in large groups their homecoming is always drenched in unbridled joy.
But the Department of Defense estimates nearly twenty percent of all service members will bring with them a disturbing mental passenger. We met with two such veterans at the Madera County Veterans Services office.
After 3 combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan Paul Bedolla thought he was ok. At least for a while,"Before I knew it my dad recognized it. He's a Vietnam vet. He was in the infantry too and he saw the symptoms."
During the first Gulf War in 1990-91 Anthony Barne was an army cook. His unit passed through Kuwait, the burning old fields and into Iraq. He too came home changed. His wife talked of leaving him,"I started buying guns and sleeping with guns under my pillow, not feeling safe around crowds. It was really stressful for her."
Both men have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome by Veteran Administration Doctors. Paul Bedolla described what haunts him, "I had seen some friends pass away. It was pretty bad become mutilated and injured. It didn't affect me at the time. Not then."
Both men filed VA claims for financial help and assistance was denied. They didn't have the military documents to prove their PTSD "stress". Both turned to the California Veterans Services office in Madera for help. That's when Charles Hunnicut set out to help them navigate the problem.
Hunnicut works for the state of California not the Federal Government. He believes strongly in supporting those whose wounds of war are not visible, "Once a psychiatrist or psychologist has made the assessment that they have PTSD that should be the only verification that's needed."
And this week the VA signaled a change ahead to do just that. Soon veterans with diagnosed PTSD will be eligible for financial support to the degree of their disability. They need only offer proof of service in a war zone and an honorable discharge for documentation. It won't matter what job they did in the military.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki is will release further details mid-July.