Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Two nights ago a man I knew died. He as more my elder son's friend than mine - a fellow Harley rider in the same motorcycle club as my son. But C 'alway had MY back' too: the brotherhood of riders includes moms, you see. When my son decided he'd enlist, C talked to him many times and at length about the military and even went with him for the actual signing for enlistment. He was aware of lots of little 'problems' tucked between the pages. You see, he was among the many Viet Nam Vets who knew for decades that the service done on behalf of our country during Viet Nam deployment ... would most likely be their cause of death.
Ruined spine. Shrapnel that floated throughout his body but could not be removed (I've never fully understood that...). And let's not forget the real problem: the ravages created by exposure to Agent Orange. The brain lesions were painful, and lie many others he resorted to any pharmaceutical that eased that pain during the many years when vets were given no treatment as the government feigned ignorance. My classmate and friend J experiences what C has endured, ahnd I know that his time is nearing too. But like C, J now gets help for the medicals. He also laughs at the PTSD treaments available; VA acknowledgment of the reality waited too long, he said, and he lives in a state of balancing his love of nature and animals with his anger at so much. Angry at the denials, the lies, the verbal abuse of early years. He distrusts so much and for such solid reason. Both C and J managed to hold decent jobs, own homes and live 'normal' lives if you look at mere facts. And both had what some people would condescendingly term as "attitude". Neither was/is the guy I'd want to meet on a dark alley.... because in some bizarre flashback this shortie might look like the Cong. Can YOU imagine living with pain and flashbacks? Or with someone whose life is so turned upside down?
C died and is out of pain. We mourn him.
But others like my friend J remain.
These Viet and other Vets who are simply referred to as disabled or injured too often suffer prolonged deaths and/or drastically altered quality (??) of life that to this day are ignored by the population for whom they believed they were serving all those years ago.
On Memorial Day in May each year (not the fake one, the real one!) I honor those who fell at a memorial for fallen heroes of the Viet Nam war. But only the names of those who died during or immediately following the war are engraved on that large stone.
So many others live or lived for years longer but died as the result of military action. Please notice those injured vets among us and if they are angry or seem downtrodden, do understand that after injury many were mistreated. "We" did that to them.
Here on SP we focus on healthy lifestyle. Everyone does his or her best...at least I hope so. Keeping an open mind and kind heart when facing others is surely part of it. We usually don't have an inkling of how and why they became angry or started to live in the streets.
There. I've vented. Want to do something? Find out where there is a house for Veterans or a VA Hospital in your area and donate some time, some gifts of cheer or just a few dollars. Or coats you no longer need for the ones that won't leave the streets.
My son has lost friends at war - saw several die while he had to keep doing what he did - and is now disabled from his injuries too. Wounded Warriors are many and they live among us. Plese remember that in November we thank the LIVING veterans, any person who ever served in the military. And that Memorial Day in May is for honoring military members who died serving our country. And to me, that includes the ones whose names will never make The Wall but died from the war years later.