I don’t think it was because Veteran’s Day was approaching, but I’ve found my thoughts filled with Vets the last couple weeks.
Something got me thinking about the Vietnam War – what it must have been like to have physically survived that terrible, terrible war, then to come back to people HERE hating you, even attacking you.
I imagine that even if they miraculously survived their tour of duty without PTSD, the trauma of that homecoming probably sent more than a few soldiers the rest of the way over that edge.
I don’t really understand enough about the Vietnam War, and America during it, to understand why we were attacking the soldiers.
Especially when Vietnam wasn’t even voluntary service!
How could we have blamed victims of a Draft for their service?
I’m glad we’ve made progress since Vietnam.
At least, those of us who oppose specific wars seem now to target our frustration and anger at those who create and profit from them, rather than those who endure them from the trenches.
I don’t think we are doing near enough, but I’m glad we’ve progressed.
All of that DID get me thinking about Veteran’s Day.
About the flood of Veteran’s Day ‘thank you to our soldiers’ posts that will soon be flooding Facebook feeds, and all the tiny flags that will surely be appearing in car windows and lawn edges.
I saw several posts, when I was working on this, about all the places where Vets can eat for free tomorrow. I know there are also places where Vets get discounts year-around.
It always warms my heart when I see the little signs in store windows or at cash registers mentioning these discounts.
And it occurred to me that we really ALL need that kind of attentiveness to our Veterans the day after Veterans Day … and the day after that … and …
Just thinking about what it means to serve in the military – or to fight in a war – and making making choices that reflect that thinking.
So many military families live in near poverty.
And nearly ALL military families experience periodic, or regular, separations that cause terrible pressures on marriages, relationships, finances – you name it.
I started thinking that we need a ‘Thank you to our soldiers’ attitude every day.
Our soldiers, and their families.
When we vote, when we buy things, when we invest … making sure that we are reducing the number of people who have to go through a war, and making sure we are taking the BEST care of them when they do.
How about when we give our time? I’m sure that some military moms and dads could use help with the kids, help with the lawn… (not to mention help buying diapers and groceries).
I think stepping up and asking military family members in our community how we can help make their day, or week, a little bit easier would be a great way to extend Veterans Day all year ’round.
Some Vets, or their family members, need housing, care, emotional support, medical treatment.
Some of that we as neighbours can probably provide.
Some of it is probably beyond our means and skills.
But doing the bit we can, and supporting the rest – through our votes, our charitable giving, and a hundred other small things, will all help get it done!
What better starting point could there be for building better communities?
Start by everyone pitching in to help a mom or dad whose partner is away for months serving our country. Start by ensuring that AT LEAST our veterans of foreign wars have the healthcare and support they need. Start by making sure that military kids have support, rides to school events, enough to eat…
Even if we did nothing more to build community, THAT would be a big step in the right direction.
And I rather expect that it wouldn’t stop there!