Five years ago today I received a phone call that would turn my world upside down. The words I heard are etched into my memory:
“Mrs. Williams, this is Dr. Perlman from the University of Minnesota Hospital. I just completed an ultrasound of your father’s abdomen and we found 4 masses in his liver that are indicative of neoplasms.” I asked if he could provide more details. “Where there are not tumors, there is cirrhotic scar tissue. Your father has liver cancer.”
He died five days later.
My father was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, having completed two tours in Vietnam. He was a pilot and flew the A4 Skyhawk from the USS Ticonderoga and the USS Bonhomme Richard.
My father also suffered from PTSD. He used alcohol to cope with what he saw and what he did, and it killed him.
According to studies completed by RAND Corporation:
- •Approximately 18.5 percent of U.S. service members who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, and more than 30 percent of Vietnam service members, currently have post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Nearly 25 percent of service members with PTSD also have a Substance Use Disorder.
- Roughly half of those who need treatment for these conditions seek it, but only slightly more than half who receive treatment get minimally adequate care.
These men and women stepped up and sacrificed to protect our country. I want to improve access to high-quality care (using evidence based methods) and ensure that every veteran has easy access to this care when they need it!