Opinion

Help for returning troops

The S.C. Army National Guard deserves credit for anticipating the needs of returning soldiers and taking steps early to meet those needs.

This spring, the state will welcome home 1,800 soldiers returning from service in Afghan-istan. While the initial welcome is likely to be jubilant, the Pentagon estimates that around 44 percent of the combatants may require mental health treatment in three to six months after they return. About 14 percent of those will be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

But state National Guard officials have devised a program to alert those likely to be associated with the soldiers to signs that might indicate the need for treatment and show them ways to ease the transition to civilian life. Dubbed "The Road Home," the Guard program invites family members, employers, government leaders, health-care providers, law enforcement officials and local clergy to a series of briefings and celebrations designed to help them understand what returning soldiers will be going through.

While active duty soldiers usually return to an installation, Guard troops return to the daily lives they had before shipping out. That increases the need for help in readjusting to that role.

The nation has asked a lot of these men and women. We disrupted their normal lives, placing them in deadly situations where many have seen death and destruction and lived in a constant state of danger.

The least we can do for them now is to ease the pressures, hassles and distractions that will confront them when they return home. We can only hope that is enough.

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