Brothers in arms who remember those who have fallen in battle.
Or for most of us, its a lovely three day weekend spent with family and friends.
When we think of soldiers returning from battle we are shown happy reunions
Or sadly soldiers who have paid a terribly high price for old men to prove they are the biggest dog
What we dont see are those that never truly come home. Who are trapped in the hell of combat, and are left broken and battered of soul and mind.
When I was going to volunteer for the shelter in Tempe, a large number at the drop in center were homeless young vets suffering from PTSD. The government washes these soldiers out, and they're on their own. When Congress makes cuts, its never for hardware, fancy jet fighters, but for medical care for our veterans.
TH was friends with a fella who fought pirates in Somalia, he was in the lead in Iraq hunting down insurgences who had been slaughtering Kurds. And each and every time he came home, it took longer and longer for him to adjust to a normal life. We lost touch with him and his family when they were posted stateside, and we worry about him, but have no way to find him. He is very security conscious and refuses to use social media.
Third son has a very close friend who was in Afghanistan and was the leader of his battalion at the tender age of 24. After two tours he became quite ill, and after extensive medical tests discovered he had cancer. He stayed home getting treatment, while his battalion left for yet another tour. And while they were gone, several of his buddies died in combat. The friend was near suicide, sure that if had been there, they wouldn't have died. He finally recovered from his cancer, and mostly from his survivors guilt.
If we are going to continue sending the best and brightest of our men and women to war, then we need to care for them their entire lives. We need to care for them as if they were our own brothers and sisters, with loving compassion and kindness. For those who will never be able to reenter society they need to be housed, fed and cared for in warm and comfortable settings. The military is decommissioning bases, those can be used to provide homes, recreation, and medical services, an entire community for our men and women to heal and live safely and cared for.
And yes, the Aussies fought with us in Vietnam, and faced the same disdain and hate that our soldiers faced when they returned home.
If one considers the observation that the worth and dignity of a civilization is judged by the way it the treats its weakest members, we cannot help but look back in shame at our past.
By Rudolf Rickes