By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2009 – The United States is just beginning to deal with the long-term implications of caring for servicemembers and their families whose lives have been changed by the wounds of war, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told those gathered for a forum on dealing with war injuries that the challenges of providing that care for troops and their families is just now beginning to be understood by the military’s top leaders. Hundreds of thousands of servicemembers have returned from eight years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan with wounds that range from minor to severely debilitating. Many have left the military and, relatively easily, moved on to college, job training and careers. Others, though, require much support to help them rebuild their lives. Education, jobs, health care, housing, financial and emotional support are only a few of their needs. The United States will face the challenge of fulfilling those needs for decades as many young, seriously injured servicemembers return to their communities, Mullen said to a few hundred people gathered at the 2009 Defense Forum Washington. “When they go home after the parade, … their dreams haven’t changed,” Mullen said. “And their struggles are represented by the requirements and the desires they have to raise their family, go to school, send their kids to school, own a home.” The chairman said the process of providing long-term care and reintegrating the servicemembers and their families into their communities will take a multifront approach by the military, other government agencies and the private sector.