This is the third post in TheNation.com’s #TalkPoverty series—an effort to push a deeper conversation about poverty into the mainstream political debate. The series profiles people working on poverty-related issues, and lays out the questions they want President Obama and Governor Romney to answer.
In 1967, five years before Jessica Bartholow was born, her father returned home from the Vietnam War a broken man. Although Richard Bartholow had survived a battle lasting several days right next to a network of underground tunnels, the experience severely traumatized him. An Army psychiatrist prescribed lithium shortly before he was discharged.
When he arrived back in the United States, military personnel simply dropped Richard off at the Oakland Commissary.
“There was no consideration for what that would mean for him or his family,” Bartholow told me. “There was no screening, or assistance in transitioning soldiers back to civilian life. There was no understanding that post-traumatic stress disorder can be passed on for generations—that it travels with the family and community.”