In the last decade, 2.3 million U.S. veterans have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or both.
Far too often, they come home with scars, some physical. Even without an injury, all have emotional scars.
Veterans of foreign wars will tell you the government needs to do a better job of that. "Stormy" says wounded warriors should be treated better.
"I almost gave my life numerous times for this," said Evan Storms, who almost died serving in the Army for six years.
"I've actually been blown up eight times, by either an RPG, which is a rocket-propelled grenade, or the mines or IEDs or some kind of explosive," Storms said.
The last time Storms was blown up in September of 2011, he was on patrol in the Horn of Panjwai in Afghanistan's Kandahar Provice. For the man his Army buddies called "Stormy," t would be his final mission.
"We got hit with a pretty big IED," he recalled. "I was the lead vehicle, sitting up on top of the truck, scanning, you know, looking for the bad guys there. "They blew us up. We didn't see it coming or nothing like that, and it was bad enough that all of us in that truck came home."
Storms' back, neck and leg injuries left in physically disabled, and facing months, if not years, of doctor visits and re-hab. The emotional scars of war will perhaps take even longer to heal.
Team Red White and Blue
The Wounded Warrior Project
The Military Warriors Support Foundation
Department of Veterans Affairs
West Tennessee Veterans Home
Stormy suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The intensity of his military experience has left him in a constant state of "high alert." So much so, the Army trained an alert dog, Koda, to be Stormy's constant companion.
"She picks up when I start getting anxious," he said. "When I'm in a store and I get would up, she picks up my mood change, fluctuations, and she'll either calm me down, or she'll go on the alert - 'hey, there's somebody approaching me from the back.' She helps me keep that under control."
Stormy has no regrets about his service and sacrifice, but he wishes the government would take better care of wounded warriors like him.
"I was coming out of the military they were like, you need to get surgery, wait until you get out and the VA will take care of it," Storms said. "So now I'm out and I'm with the VA. I've had MRIs done, I've had CAT scans done, and all the procedures done. Where's my doctor? Who's the guy that I'm going to go to do surgery on my back? What's going on? Am I going to live in pain for the next month?"
Stormy says he wishes the government was more like a private group called the Military Warriors Support Foundation, which awards homes to Purple Heart recipients. The foundation awarded Stormy and his family a house in February.
Military golf event awards wounded vet a new home
Purple Heart hero receives new home
"I think we talked to them on Thursday and by Monday, they said that we'd been awarded a home," Storms said. "It was just that fast. They gave us the house. This is my house. I love it. I couldn't be more thankful, you know?"
A bonified American hero who bleeds red, white, and blue, and knows the battle his comrades will face once they return from the war theater.
"We still got guys deployed, we still got guys not coming home," Storms said. "It stays up constantly keep the light on it all night."
After months of uncertainty, it looks like the VA is going to come through for Stormy on his back surgery. He met with his doctor Monday morning, and the back surgery will be done sooner, rather than later.
He has a third daughter on the way and says all he wants to do have a pain free life and see his girls grow up.
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