I was watching the television and heard Jon Stewart talking about being apart of the big songfest in Washington, DC to honor our vets. He said something that struck a cord with me because I have lived it's truth. He said...and I am just paraphrasing....
We are great at making veterans, but not so great at taking care of them.
He could not have been more right. It has been said that old men make wars and young men fight them. I have seen the after affects of war within my own household, both as a young child and as a mother and mother in law.
When my father returned from his fifth tour in Vietnam, my brothers and I were cautioned about waking up my father from within a particular distance. He woke suddenly and was likely to see you as an enemy before he realized you were his child. I remember hearing my mother's voice calling to my father in the middle of the night and finding her standing in the kitchen dressed in her robe and looking out into the back yard. My father was out there walking around unaware that he was in a backyard in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His mind was still fighting a war on a distant land. He never spoke about his time there as an pilot where he flew both jets with bombs to deploy and helicopters to go into a hot zone and rescue his fellow warriors.
And then I was a mother who watched her son sent to war. He volunteered to become a Marine at 17 years old. An indecent age to swear allegiance to a country that is willing to use your young soul to fight a war. He was sent three times to that war zone and every time he came home I saw less of the boy I had given birth to and raised, and more of a man losing himself in the violence he had to see and participate in.
He was a veteran now at 23 years old and once on American soil, we could find no one to help him. Just brown bags of drugs handed to him in an effort to dull the images of war. No one really knew how to help him or the thousands of men and women just like him. We have consistently begged for the Veterans Administration to help....but have been shocked at the apathy and disinterest of those we have seen.
To paraphrase Jon Stewart again...We are great at making veterans, but not so great at taking care of them.
They don't need the songs of musicians that will fade with the morning light. But the money spent on putting together an event, like the one on tonight, would be better spent funding programs that work in connecting with out vets and helping them become the men and women they were meant to be.