June 5, 2009

To Buckle Under the Burden

A friend of mine sent this message to me on Facebook. It expounds an enlightenment on how our veterans fare from war and healing.
I'm setting up at VA last night and fixing to head back this morning. My best friends dad is in there very sick. I look into all these old soldiers and wonder why do we have to fight in war...put scars on our men that will never go away. I feel that the mental thing you all have went through is worse then any psychical trauma. I know your more religious then me so can you put (him) in your prayers. He is ready to meet his maker, but his kids and I are not.
I am sorry to hear about your friends dad. I love you my friend and hope that you and your friend find Gods loving embrace as you journey through the ritual of passing. Know the scars that we bare in our hearts and on our bodies were endured as a service to you, our community and nation. Your veteran is a testament to the resiliency of a people who give freely and embrace higher ideals with valor and an inner reserve that only God can fill.

The whole US should walk through their nearest VA and see what war does to the body, mind and soul. I go to the VA regularly and see the newest veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I often see them in wheel chairs, in the waiting rooms or walking around with the scars of war visible or not from traumatic brain injury (TBI), amputations, PTSD, depression, and feeling that familiar tenseness in their bodies and mind.

One particular veteran I saw had no hair due to excessive scarring on his head that radically altered his appearance. He had a leg amputated which I had overlooked due to his healed head wounds. He was not interacting with anyone, just sitting in his wheelchair and looking off into space. His parents were there with him, he could not have been older than 21 or 22. I wondered what kind of life does this man have? Does he interact at all with his loved ones, and how does he do so?

Instantly I felt an immense sense of grief and almost buckled under the burden that he and his family carry. I only imagined the worst probably because of a bias that I carry in rememberance of our modern veterans. This rage I feel is in direct conflict with the pride I feel in me and our veterans; a cold raw anger and resentment of our government that has shattered our minds and bodies. I sense the pain of our modern disabled veterans and have thoughts that diminish my experiences or think that it should shrink my suffering. I love them and feel a kinship, a closeness that I have never experienced before, a connection to someone I have never met but know all to well.

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