I just got done watching an episode of Bones called “The Patriot in Purgatory”, starring David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel. It is a show on the FOX network and it was originally aired on November 12th, 2012. This is a clip from that show, http://youtu.be/ooRloIi1Yq4. It was about a homeless man that they were trying to identify, he had been found in a parking garage, believed to have been murdered. It turns out that he was a veteran from Afghanistan that had PTSD and he was at the Pentagon on September 11th. The injuries that he sustained were believed to be from being beaten to death but were in fact from saving 3 people from the rubble of the Pentagon after the plane hit. He had been there every day, yelling out the names of the soldiers that were with him in battle and were killed in an ammo dump. He thought it was the only way to get these guys the silver star, he had petitioned the Pentagon 56 times to no avail. He bled out after 10 days from a punctured lung. Once he was identified, he was given a full military funeral.
The reason I am writing this article is that I am extremely humbled in knowing that there are thousands of homeless veterans in this country and they seem to be invisible. They went to war, be it in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, they fought for us, they lost men that they loved as brothers in doing so and we can’t be bothered to help these men. I think back to my own family. My dad was in Vietnam in 1965, he was one of the lucky ones, he got to come home. My brother was in Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991. He also came home but at what price? Dad was exposed to Agent Orange/Dioxin and has health problems because of it. His best friend didn’t come home. He was killed in an accident due to carelessness. My brother has issues due to his service over there. How much is a human life worth? You can’t turn on the TV these days without hearing about the suicides of the vets coming back from Iraq/Afghanistan. Has this county gotten so jaded that these men mean nothing, that their service to this country was just for fun? We have forgotten our heros! We have forgotten that without them, we would be living a much different life. This is unfair and it is unacceptable!
We have all lost something due to war. These men and women have lost so much, their health, their lives, their sanity, their hope! This country was changed on September 11, 2001. Some lost parents, husbands, wives, their humanity, their faith in GOD, what have you. That should have been a wake up call for us, for us to take care of our own and make sure that they know how much we appreciate them and how important they are to us. Instead, we focus on our own trivial lives and continue on like these men are just window dressing. PLEASE, take some time out to thank a veteran today and to welcome him or her home. There was a number and a website at the end of the show for the Veterans Crisis Line, www.veteranscrisisline.net, the phone number is 1-800-273-8255.The VA has a program to help homeless vets, that address is www.va.gov/Homeless,www.voa.org/ If you know of a veteran that is need of help, reach out, give them a hand up. Go to the VA and see if you can volunteer, if you know of a veteran that is homeless, give him or her a blanket and steer them to where they can get help. Write or call your Senators and Congressmen and women to tell that they need to support the legislation concerning veterans and their welfare. The reason that the man in the show was homeless is because he was the only one of his unit that survived an attack on the ammo dump they were in. He couldn’t handle being indoors and his wife would find him sleeping in a park somewhere. These men and women aren’t lazy or pathetic, who among us knows what they went through and why they are homeless? There is no purple heart for PTSD and no recognition for what they have given up or lost to fight for us.
We as the children of Vietnam Veterans know better than anyone what life is like for our vets. We need to help them through whatever hardship they may be facing, they fought and died for us, what more can they do? Be thankful, so many of us have lost them for different reasons, most of which are due to Agent Orange/ Dioxin exposure. We have each other to lean on for support and for comfort, these men have fallen through the cracks and don’t have anyone. We can’t give up on them. We can’t forget what they have sacrificed for us and what they stand for. We aren’t alone, don’t let them be, you can make a difference in someone’s life today. It is time that we showed them just how much they are not forgotten. They didn’t forget us when they laid their lives on the line for all of us, not just their own families but for all of us as a nation. Don’t let their sacrifices mean nothing!
In closing, I would like to say Thank You and Welcome Home to any and all veterans that are reading this article and I would just ask that you not forget out heros! We can make a difference if we all just stick together and do something. Thank you for reading this and know that none of us are alone. We just have to take the time to see what has been invisible for too long. It is up to us as a nation to uphold all veterans, whether they are Vietnam Vets or Iraq/ Afghanistan vets. Without them, where would we be now?
Karen Y. Wengert
© Children of Vietnam Veteran Health Alliance