Sunday, May 24, 2009

This is my annual Memorial Day post. I've added some additional comments at the end.

Memorial Day 2009

In memory of those who served selflessly and gave all.

In memory of and to honor our female soldiers. They supposedly don't serve in combat roles. But our Defense Department lies. Many mothers, sisters and daughters have fallen in Iraq. Many who have returned home, are suffering not only the physical and mental scars of war, but are treated as wimps and whiners by their own V.A.

To honor soldiers who have faced the ugliness of war, cried for their lost comrades, and come home to horrible treatment at Walter Reed when they should receive the very best America has to offer. May we rise up in protest and give them the health care they need and deserve!

And to my brave soldier, my partner, my life. Her time in Iraq cost her much. But she wore the uniform with pride and served in spite of terrible conditions and a lying President. She will always be my hero.

Today, as you meet people through your journey, thank a soldier. Thank them for their selfless service. Thank them for being brave. Thank them for our freedom. Because without their willingness to sacrifice, there would be no America.

Comments for 2009:

We've been at this over five years now. We've lost almost 5000 young (and older) men and women, not to mention the over 40,000 who came back injured. The sad thing is that the government didn't include everyone in those figures. They're fudged to keep us unaware of the actual cost of this war. Now, I won't get started on my feelings about the war. If you've read my posts at all, you know full well how I feel. And, besides, if I do start who knows when the tirade will end!

Suffice it to say, there is a cost...a great cost...for the wars we are now in. When I walk the halls of the VA with Patti, there are dark eyes staring out from under "I LOVE AMERICA" hats. They are hollow. Men and women making their way through halls that so many others have walked before them. They are physically injured: limbs missing, burns, brain injuries. But there are those who are the unseen and unheralded: those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Soldiers who return with PTSD are just as disabled, if not in many cases more so, than their physically injured comrades. Yet, you can't see it. And it certainly doesn't get a Purple Heart (even though I think it should). The cost to the American soldier suffering with PTSD is myriad: lost jobs, lost marriages, isolation, fear, nightmares and flashbacks. Something as simple as a book falling off a shelf can cause a soldier to jump, grab for a weapon and dive under the nearest object.

Marriages are affected as the soldier cannot communicate and no one understands except the one who shared their experience. Emotionally shut down, all relationships are torn apart at the seams. Some spouses who try to share a bed with their soldier find themselves bruised and battered in the morning after being unintentionally struck by their soldier fighting in their sleep.

Take all of this and add the element of Don't Ask Don't Tell. The gay or lesbian soldier is truly, truly alone. They cannot talk of any issues that come up at home for fear of outing themselves and losing their careers. They cannot join in the banter of other soldiers, for fear of being found out. There is no possibility of having a frank conversation during those occasional calls home. All the lines are monitored. Add injury, combat stress, and PTSD to that equation and you have a powder keg of possibilities.

What I'm trying to get across is that there is more to be learned from these wars. We cannot come to this holiday year after year and say a quick, "Thanks" and move on. It's just not enough for what our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and coasties have done for us. It's not enough for the huge sacrifies they make day in and day out.

So, please just take a moment to honor those who have fallen. And then go the one step further of thanking the veterans you know. They'll probably say they were just doing their job and point to those who have fallen. But in their hearts, they will feel the respect of one person who truly appreciates their love of country and sacrifices made.

It is only because of these brave men and women that we are able to live in this country today.

God Bless America
God Bless the Whole World

So may it ever be.