Responses to 'Home and Healing'
- One reader (please feel free to share your name in a comment to this post) wrote the following: "Pray too for their families left behind -- the ones who don't understand why Mommy or Daddy or spouse isn't acting the same as before.
Many of their stories are heartbreaking. I work with these soldiers and their families every day and have a tremendous respect for their courage and resilience ...and for all working tirelessly to try to help them back to health -- esp the orthopedists, the physical therapists, the nurses and of course, the behavior health folks... ".
- Vietnam vet Denny Banister sent in an account of his own experience and we are honored to share his essay with all of you. Thank you, Denny, for your service and for this piece. We civilians are in serious need of consciousness raising on these issues.
Scars on their Souls
Like many veterans, I belong to the American Legion post in my hometown. Most American Legion posts are similar. We have fish fries on Friday nights, Bingo on Wednesdays, barbecues in the summer, country music on the jukebox, and there's a faint odor of stale beer, cigarettes and popcorn in the hospitality room.
When Legionnaires remove their trinket-covered American Legion caps, there's a lot of gray hair to be seen - if there's any hair to be seen at all. America's wartime veterans are aging rapidly. We are playing taps far too much these days for our comrades from World War II. Like our World War II veterans, Korean War vets are decreasing in numbers. Now the Vietnam era vets are beginning to retire - we know we're next for taps.
Give most vets half-a-chance and they will share their military experiences with other vets. Give some vets half-a-chance and they will share their military experiences with everyone.
But there are a few vets who don't share their military experiences with anyone.
Some of them sit quietly in a corner or at the end of the bar, not really talking to anyone. Others might mingle and socialize - until the subject turns to war memories. Then they quietly withdraw.
One of my dearest friends served in Vietnam. I served during the war, but he served in the war - there's a big difference. I have a lot of good memories about my military experiences, memories I like to remember. He has a lot of memories about his military experiences he would like to forget. As close as we are, he has never shared them with me.
Everyone who fought for their country in every war was wounded in some way or another - physically, spiritually or emotionally. Some wounds are much more serious than others, and they don't always come from bullets.
I have seen the scars from the entry wounds on my friend's abdomen and the scars from the exit wounds on his back. As painful as these wounds must have been, the most painful wounds he suffered in Vietnam left scars on his soul. Try as he might, he cannot drink them away.
Legion posts and VFW posts are not elegant country clubs where prospects need pull, position and power to become members. Wealth is not an eligibility requirement. But for many of our veterans, the price for membership was terribly high.
Regardless of which era they come from, which war they served during or in, or which uniform they wore - our veterans deserve our heartfelt thanks.
- Carol Peacock wrote "Thank you for this posting. Welcome Back Veterans is a great resource; they fund the program I direct: Home Again: Veterans and Families Initiative.
Check out some of our wonderful OIF/OEF vets who are working to help and heal other vets: http://homeagainveterans.blogspot.com/ "
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In our Baptismal Covenant we promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to proclaim by word and example the Good News. While recent natural disasters elsewhere have drawn much of our attention, intention and treasure, some of us may be called to serve in our own communities. Outreach may only be an arms length away! 'For those with ears, let them hear' the stories of our veterans, however much they wish to share with us. Special equipment is not needed for this powerful, significant ministry: neither your opinion nor your commentary is relevant. Use both ears; use the entire heart.