Prairie Doc Perspective: ‘A Date That Will Live in Infamy’

Major Anderson, RN

December 7, 1941 is a “date that will live in infamy” as stated by President Theodore Roosevelt in his famous speech after the events of the Pearl Harbor bombing.  That event led to the United States involvement in World War II.  President Roosevelt’s speech was a call to arms and a declaration of war against this act of aggression by a foreign nation.  He never wanted us to forget what happened.  President Roosevelt concluded his speech by saying “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.”  
Over eighty years later, President Roosevelt’s words still have impact and meaning.  There will always be threats to our country, both foreign and domestic.  There have always been those who have stood up to stand against these threats and defended their country.  Those who have served risk their health and safety for the greater good.  The men and women of the United States Armed Forces know that they may be called upon to give the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  
We must never forget those who suffered as Prisoners of War and the unknown fates of those who are still Missing in Action.  Once back on the home front after the tours of duty are done and enlistments are complete, the service member will become a veteran, although transitioning back to civilian life can be challenging for some.
Many veterans will carry with them some physical, mental, or emotional toll from their service.  Whether it is hearing loss or PTSD, there are service connected injuries that need to be cared for.  Some are very easy to spot, like a missing limb or a scar from shrapnel injury.  Others are harder to see, such as survivor guilt, substance abuse, and chronic pain which can be hidden.   According to a 2022 VA study the top five causes of death for veterans in order from greatest the least were accidents, suicide, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and homicide.
As health care workers, it is our duty to care for these service men and women.  We need to make sure that their physical and emotional health is cared for. That they have access to the resources earned through their service to their country.  If we all work together we can ensure that no one is left behind.  Our goal should be that veteran health care is not ignored.  As President Roosevelt said, we need to have confidence in our armed forces and the unbounding determination of the people of this country.  Together we can all make sure that those who served will never be forgotten.  
(Major Anderson, RN is a nurse at the Brookings Health System in Brookings, South Dakota.)