Over the next several weeks, I am publishing a series which concentrates on veterans and the struggles they face after returning home from deployment. I am intending this to be a learning experience for not just the reader, but also for myself. Researching for this series has already taken a few unexpected turns and it may take a while to get all of it written. The people in the series who are telling their individual stories need the time and patience to do so on their own terms. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.
Over the summer, I had the honor of attending a couple of events sponsored by the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). The chapters from the Muncie/Winchester area had members from East central Indiana and West Central Ohio. I was treated very well by some very nice people.
Both events were put together by volunteers, veterans and their wives, who had put a lot of time and work into planning and execution. They had a motorcycle ride, food, live entertainment, activities and vendors, like me, set up for visitors. The weather for both events was beautiful and was staged outside. They would have been absolutely amazing days for families and patrons of all ages.
One of the most moving experiences of both events was the Honor Guard. Each branch of the Military was represented by a horse and rider carrying its flag, a rider carrying the Stars and Stripes and a rider less horse representing those who have fallen, MIAs and POWs. A veteran’s event doesn’t begin until the National Anthem has been played. You have never experienced what our nation’s flag and anthem represent until you have experienced it with a group of veterans. The patriotism is palpable and contagious.
The problem was, very few people even showed up. According to the organizers, there were promises from many people they would be in attendance. It was very disappointing nobody bothered to comes. However, those who were in attendance were veterans. That’s pretty much how it is, veterans supporting veterans. The disappointment of the day was realizing the average person on the street probably talks about how sad it is our vets are being ignored by our government and treated badly by the VA but don’t stop to realize giving money to a national organization is the very least they can do to help. For me, it was a wakeup call. I give to the DAV, Fisher House Foundation and occasionally to other organizations that support our veterans and have always felt it was more than enough. How very heartbreaking and eye-opening it was for me to find out it is so very little.
I was fortunate enough to meet and ultimately get to know one of the principal organizers and his wonderful wife. Their journey will be told in a future installment of this series. The focus will be n PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as told to me by a few veterans who have come to know each other and are support anchors for all. I’ve heard a small portion of their individual stories and have a better understanding of the struggles they have faced since leaving the military.
Writing this series is intended to bring to light the personal struggles our young men and women are going through and encourage the public to become pro-active by seeking out events sponsored by our veterans and support their efforts by attending and participating.
One thing veterans will not do is ask for a hand out. They work hard to take care of themselves and each other. The least we really can do, for those who have done so much for us, are support their efforts by just showing up. All I did was say I wanted to help by getting their stories out, and of course, they said absolutely, they want people to hear.
This has turned into a work from the heart. I can only pray God gives me the wisdom and the words to do justice to these veterans and the people who work to help them every day.