“Island of Warriors” – The Untold Story of Guamanian Veterans

Guamanians serve in the U.S. military at three times the national average. Yet when they get home, they struggle to receive the healthcare they need.

When we usually talk about “America,” we’re really talking about the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. But the “Americas” also includes U.S territories like American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands (not to mention Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America).

The latest episode of America By The Numbers with Maria Hinojosa delves into the issue of veterans in Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean. Guamanians, many who are Chamorro, indigenous to the island, are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in U.S. elections. There is a Guam member in the U.S. House of Representatives, but that person is a non-voting delegate.

The episode explores the high numbers of Guamanians who serve in the U.S. military, at three times the national average. An estimated one in 8 Guamanians are veterans. They have suffered the highest casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who make it back to Guam suffer from PTSD and other issues. Yet they struggle to receive care, needing to fly to Hawaii—the closest place to receive PTSD treatment—about 4,000 miles away.

The story is really about resiliency, and those who have been forgotten by history. Do not miss this episode. “Island of Warriors” airs on WORLD Channel Thursday, October 9 at 9pm ET and on PBS this weekend (check your local listings).