Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Veteran's Day

In the past several days I've been asked many times how I would or did spend Veteran's Day by folks who know that I'm a veteran. I think my response stunned, or at least surprised them. I haven't celebrated Veteran's day for many years now and I have my reasons.

Now, before you start honking and coughing that I'm anti-Veteran, hold on. I'm not anti-Veteran. In fact, I'm very pro-Veteran. In fact, I think every day should be Veteran's Day and that's the basis for my decision these past many years not to personally celebrate Veteran's Day.

Veteran's have one of the highest rates of any groups in our society of homelessness. There is something fundamentally wrong with anyone who has served his/her country coming back home and ending up homeless. Setting aside one day a year to celebrate the service of our Veteran's hasn't solved this problem.

The number of military personnel who are coming home from the current war with psychological problems, some even committing suicide, is staggering. PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is popularly associated with the Viet Nam War but it is a disorder that knows no such division as one war or another. In fact, I was diagnosed with PTSD during my service but not fundamentally because of anything that I experienced in the military but because I grew up in an intensely violent and dysfunctional environment. More on that another time. However, I make this point to highlight to everyone that anyone with PTSD needs a support system, especially when trying to reintergrate with society after returning home from a war zone.

These challenges confronting Veterans are not because other Veteran's have let it happen. Veteran's of all the wars and conflicts are some of the most generous people on the planet. They're quick to help and support each other but this problem really needs our entire society to tackle it and not just once a year.

When we as a society, as a country participate in vaulting our military personnel into a war, we need to keep in mind that when they return from that war we need to be as strong and brave as they were in going. We need to be there for them for the long haul and not just once a year.

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