Veterans Face High Risk of Death, Injury After Returning Home

On December 15, 2011, the United States formally ended the war in Iraq. Lasting nine years, nearly 4,500 soldiers have been killed and thousands others injured in the war efforts. With the end of the conflict in Iraq, it would seem soldiers are nearly home free. Yet, statistics show upon their safe return to the United States, military personnel will face a high risk of being seriously injured or killed in car accidents.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, in the first years home from the war, more military personnel are killed in traffic accidents than by another other cause, including suicide. Ronald Medford of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSB) cited his concern over the danger during a recent speech. "It troubles me to tell you that once you get them home safely, they are coming home to risk of death and injury on our roadways."

Many accidents are caused by aggressive and reckless driving behaviors of soldiers, such as speeding, crossing lanes, using drugs or alcohol, not wearing seatbelts and not wearing helmets. However, there are other risk factors for the veterans:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Blackouts
  • Medication
  • Anxiety

To reduce the risk of injury or death to soldiers and others on the roadways, the Department of Veterans Affairs has partnered with the Department of Transportation and the Department of defense. Together, the departments have launched the Veterans' Safe Driving Initiative led by Richard Petty the initiative chairman, NASCAR legend and driving school operator.

Involving two components, an awareness campaign and a research plan, the initiative is intended to help veterans drive safe and stay safe. As part of the awareness campaign, veterans centers, counseling agencies, community clinics and benefits office reach out to veterans who have left the war efforts. With intentional effort, these organizations work to educate veterans about the risks they face at home and to remind them to take safety measures when driving.

"Our returning combat veterans have already put themselves in harm's way to protect our lives," said David Kelley, former acting administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). "Their increased risks on our roadways are too high of a price for us to be paying. We gladly offer up our expertise and resources to help our veterans make a safe transition home."

We should all be grateful to our nation's veterans for their contribution to our country. Veterans that are bearing the psychological scars from their service should be supported and encouraged to get the help that they need. While their pain may be enduring, it does not give veterans or any person the right to endanger other lives by driving recklessly. North Carolina reckless driving accident lawyers work hard to advocate on behalf of people injured in car accidents.

Tail-gaiting, speeding, racing, running red lights, passing on the shoulder, drunk driving and driving too fast for conditions are all examples of aggressive and reckless driving. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you should speak with a North Carolina personal injury attorney who has a strong record of fighting for clients' rights.