I'll admit it right up front. I am a public radio news junkie. I listen to podcasts from KUOW (Seattle), KPLU (Tacoma), Spokane Public Radio, and Northwest Public Radio (Tri-Cities/Pullman), as well as some programs from WBUR (Boston) and - of course - NPR.org.
That is how I heard about Bill Surwillo's story. He is a combat veteran with the Stryker Brigade out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He has been diagnosed with the PTSD and has been unfairly discharged by the Army, and lost his GI Bill benefits. I was moved by this story - so much so that I actually wrote to my Senators (Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell), my Representative (Doc Hastings), and even Governor Chris Gregoire. I rarely do this - though there are many times I think of doing it.
I guess this moved me because I have veterans in my family. I have a cousin who is an active Marine who was deployed to Iraq at the start of the war. His stepfather has a Purple Heart and served as a Marine in VietNam. A friend of mine served as a nurse in Bosnia. And, finally, my grandfather and his brothers all served in WWII. In fact, one of my great-uncles served in the Pacific theater and never talked about what he saw in the Islands and was affected by it for the rest of his life. Many of these people have taken the opportunity of the GI Bill. My great-uncle even became a scientist.
I guess that is why this story affects me. This poor man who has given so much to his country and lost friends and colleagues in Afghanistan and he has returned with an affliction that will most probably lasted his entire life. The impact on his quality of life is incalculable. The military owes him for that.