First, I want to say thank you
to the veterans of the United States Military who
have given so much for freedom around the world. God
bless you all. And I also don't want to forget to
tell all my Marine Corps brethren happy birthday!
May the Corps live forever.
I also want to recognize those people and
organizations who work so hard for our kids in the
military. Those who give their all to bring a little
love and comfort to a Soldier's life. You also serve
and I honor your patriotism.
I was recently reminded that
the aftermath of war and its toll on the individual Soldier
carries on for an entire
generation after a conflict.
I had to opportunity to sit with many lonely veterans at a
VA hospital. I listened to the stories, good and bad, about
their treatment at the VA; war stories they would probably
tell no one else; when and where they received their wounds;
or when and where they were so mentally wounded that they
What impacted me the most was when night fell and the
homeless veterans came out of the hospital. They seemed to
instinctively want to be with others of their “kind” and
they congregated with us “smokers,” sitting around the
fringe of the group listening and sometimes contributing a
word or two.
They would sometimes bum a cigarette or ask for food but for
the most part they were respectful of the other veterans.
Some seemed mentally challenged; they would talk to them
selves if no one would listen. Some would stare off into
space like they were completely oblivious of their
surroundings or were somewhere far away in space AND time
reliving something most people will never know.
Some present would treat them with distain explaining that
they had made their own life choices and for the most part
this is the way they WANTED to live. Others reacted to the
homeless by ignoring them while yet a third group would
occasionally talk with them or give them a small “donation.”
As the night wore on most would drift away into the darkness
while the hard core would wait until the police asked them
to leave. I wondered where they went.
Finally all the hospitalized veterans became so fatigued
that even the allure of comradeship was not enough to keep
them there and they slowly made their way back to their
It was a stark reminder of the aftermath of war.
We have all done a good job helping others. But we have a
long way to go.
May God bless our military and its veterans.