Memorial Day is a day to remember those brave men and women who fought in the military. Typically we think of it as a day to honor those that died directly because of their service, but I prefer to think of it as a day to honor all those that serve(d), alive or dead.
How they died does not matter to me. Veterans are sometimes unable to get access to good medical services, leaving them to die from diseases or conditions that may be “unrelated” to combat, but is in every way related to combat. For instance, every day 18 soldiers and Veterans commit suicide. That is 18 a day. Most of these served in the Middle East.
Hepatitis C occurs at a fairly high rate in the veteran population, especially those who served in the Vietnam-era. Approximately 187,065 (2.6%) Veterans are infected with hepatitis C. Many of the Vietnam-era veterans are entering into the years where liver damage may reveal itself. According to a 2010 publication by the Department of Veterans Affairs, “Between 2000 and 2008, the annual number of all cause deaths recorded for Veterans with chronic HCV rose from 1,259 (1,129 per 100,000 in VHA care) to 5,967 (4,049 per 100,000 in VHA care), respectively.” (State of Care for Veterans with Chronic Hepatitis C)
Hepatitis Awareness Month officially ends on May 31st. Our obligation to our veterans never ends. Spread the word.