As the United States continues a drawdown from combat operations, Veterans are returning to the South Plains in large numbers. However, Dave Lewis, who is the president of the Veterans Resource Coordination Groups (VRCG) in Lubbock, says many of those heroes are returning home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other deep issues.
"Most of our veterans transition without any problems, but some veterans find some challenges when they come back from combat and experience some trauma of some sort during their military service. We tend to find they have a tougher time transitioning," Lewis said.
According to Lewis, more than 40 Veterans are arrested every month in Lubbock County. The offenses can range from theft to drugs to more serious felonies. Lewis says a lot of those arrests can be a result of the trauma a Veteran may have seen in combat.
"A variety of different issues, but you can usually tie it back to combat service, mental health, self medication, drugs and alcohol," Lewis said.
The startling statistic is one that is largely ignored, and that's why Lewis believes VRGC is an important resource for the community.
"What we do is connect veterans to resources that they need. And there are a number of resource providers, there are a lot of veterans with needs and what we do is try to connect the two," Lewis said.
Wednesday, Nov. 6, the VRCG is holding their first ever South Plains Veterans Summit. The free event is a community call to action, aimed at educating Veterans and civilians about the struggles some of our returning military are facing and to come up with additional ways to help them.
"We want the community to be aware, we want the community to be helpful. These are people that need some assistance to get them back up and make them the great Americans they are capable of being," Lewis said.
The South Plains Veterans Summit begins at 8AM, Wednesday morning. For more information, visit: http://www.vrcg.org/.
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