Coming Back Home a Battle for War Vets

May  29, 2014

      For many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest battle is coming back home. That was the theme this afternoon at a preview and panel discussion for the documentary, "Coming Back with Wes Moore." The three-part public television series takes a close look at the lives of veterans as they transition from the front lines to cities across the country.  

      One member of the panel was Amy Hess, a retired army major. The DeKalb native says although she served in Saudi Arabia for four months, it took her years to realize she had post tramautic stress disorder.

      "The first impacting memories would be coming off the plane and seeing the color green after being in the dessert for so long or smelling the fresh air and the most important things after stepping off that plane are someone to walk beside me." Hess says there are 2.5 million soldiers with a unique story, and it's important for the community to understand and engage them. 

      One person working on community engagement in the Quad Cities is Teri Johnson. She is the new military liaison at Unity Point Trinity, and her goal is to make sure local veterans know what resources are available to them.  Johnson lost her son Jason in Iraq in 2009, and has another son who served in Afghanistan. 

      "I think it comforts us to be able to get together and to share. Some of us tend to think of the war as a bigger, larger picture that doesn't really touch us here, but there are many families here that have sons and daughters serving and that have lost sons and daughters to the war."

      Johnson says nearly 35 families in the Quad Cities area have lost a son or daughter in the wars. And she hopes the documentary will enlighten people about the barriers everyone faces, including troops, their families, and their communities. 

      The final episode of "Coming Back with Wes Moore" will air on WQPT, Quad Cities PBS, next Wednesday, June 4th. There whole series will re-air on June 7th, from 2 to 5 pm. 


(Photo, from left to right: Amy Hess, Mitch Chapman, Dr. Sam Moreno, and Teri Johnson.)