We are all pretty familiar with bell curves; a graph that is normally broken down into three sections, low, average and high. Normally, the average section makes up about 80% of the graph with the other two sections having about 10% respectfully.
Recently I was having a conversation where this idea of the "80%'ers" came up. What I mean by that is this: There are a ton of service organizations out there. Some are doing some great things. Some are out there flapping in the breeze while others are just starting that. In this conversation I was having, we began wondering which group a lot of these organizations target. We figured out if you put the Veteran population of any area into a bell chart, break them up into "severally wounded", "wounded but working" and "not wounded" (I'm sure we could use better terms but you get the point); the "wounded but working" section would be that 80% "average" section. However, we figured out that a majority of the bigger service organizations - the ones you see on TV and hear about all time - are really only catering to the severally wounded, 10% population of the overall population.
Now, please understand, I'm not saying that our brothers and sisters-in-arms that were severally wounded in defense of this nation do not deserve it. I feel they deserve it and then a lot more. However, what about the 80%'ers? I can't even begin to count the number of times I've gone somewhere to speak and been greeted with "I pictured you missing a (insert body part)" or some other comment. Granted; in general, the majority of the population doesn't have a true understanding of what sort of wounds go unseen. Wounds like PTSD and TBI are ever-increasing. Walk into a room and ask all the Veterans in that room to raise their hands if they carry a PTSD diagnosis. You'll notice that most, if not all, raise their hands. When you talk to Joe Q Taxpayer, when he/she thinks of wounded military members, our missing body parts come to mind.
I work very hard every day to remind those around me that not every wounded Veteran sticks out, nor are we in need of "free soup and socks". Veterans, regardless of the injuries he or she may have to live with, are not helpless. Many of our brothers and sisters-in-arms are once told they will never walk again and end up showing the doctors that not walking is not an option. They find a way. Those of us with unseen injuries learn to adjust our methods to work within the new way our brains are weird. We are not looking for freebies. Sure, it is nice to get something once and awhile but don't baby us. Don't treat us like broken goods. I think that those of us, the 80%'ers, have a huge struggle with this. Sometimes we need help, but we do not need freebies. Still the question remains, where do we fit in?
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