About Veterans Day

 

This week we commemorate Veterans Day, and I am always torn on this day. A human being willing to die for what he or she believes should always be admired, and in the case of those who’ve fought in wars, thanked. But I can’t post trite salutations or memes about veterans. I can’t behave like a “military groupie” without thinking about how many of our young people were duped or drafted into giving up their lives or their health for wars we should not have been fighting.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of situations where war is the only option. But there are still too many where it should never have happened, that were engineered by a government or a corporation with an agenda.

When I was writing Spells & Oregano, I spoke to veterans, I researched the hospitals and mental health facilities we provide for them, and what I read and heard was so appalling, I couldn’t sleep.

And yet, too many of the “Thank you for your service” and “God bless our veterans” folk don’t want to know it, see it, read it, or hear it. I know of one woman (and she’s a lovely woman, actually) who blocked a veteran of the Iraq invasion from her Facebook page because she didn’t like what he had to say about that war. How did that young man feel, I wonder, to not have his pain validated? To have what he witnessed dismissed by someone who claims to “support the military?”

How do we go on every year for one day, celebrating veterans, and then for the rest of it, ignore the fact that we have men and women who come home so damaged or maimed that they are unable to continue in society? Veterans who are not properly cared for who languish in poorly run VA hospitals. Veterans who are addicted to pain medications. Veterans who are so psychologically destroyed that when they go back to their families, they can’t function as they did before they were deployed. And, God help us—veterans who are homeless. Those two words, “veterans” and “homeless” should not be in the same sentence. Ever. Not in the USA, at least.

So, this Veterans Day, instead of posting an emotional meme, do something else: Talk to a veteran. Listen to him or her. You might not like what they have to say, but if we truly want to improve our society, to improve the lives of our veterans we say we hold dear, we must open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts. We must put our money where our mouths are, we must listen, and we MUST learn, not from politicians, or newscasters, but from the people who were there, on the ground, fighting, wherever in the world they were fighting.

 

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