The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

November 12, 2007 by susan
HOmeless vet

Leftymn writes:

And so began the Armistice for the War to end all Wars…World War I, November 11, 1919. To most living Americans, this day is simply Veteran’s Day. Today, most banks will be closed, and you may not receive mail. We will remember the men and women who served in the military, engaged in fighting the wars this country’s government required them to fight. Read on.

Veteran’s Day. We will see “Saving Private Ryan” replayed on one of the cable channels. Well-deserved honor will be bestowed upon the few remaining veterans of WWII – the good war. We will remember those long since gone, whose names are listed on memorials in Washington DC and in countless county seats and state capitols across this country.

No less deserving of honor and respect are our most recent veterans – those who answered the call to serve in our military and have been placed in harm’s way in a war that was ill-conceived and which the majority of our citizens wish was over and, in fact, had never been started.

Yes, we’ll see stirring, flag-waving tributes on TV as the political leadership of this nation honors all our veterans.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, veterans make up 11% of our population, but they make up 26% of the homeless population. The Washington Post reported that, on any given night in 2006, more than 195,000 military veterans were homeless. The Veterans Administration says that 45% of homeless vets suffer from mental illness and PTSD. Homeless shelters report that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are already trickling into shelters. It took almost ten years for Vietnam veterans to start showing up among the homeless.

According to many sources, it’s likely that the trauma to Iraq and Afghanistan vets who’ve been pushed into extended tours of duty and multiple, intense deployments will be much worse than that from Vietnam. Foreclosures are rising and the economy is likely on a path to recession, making it even more likely that we’ll see a tremendous uptick in vets on our streets sooner than later.

As you remember veterans this week, consider contributing (or contribute more generously) to a foodshelf or to local homeless shelters. That’s one true way we can help support our troops.

Posted in

Comments

ms. barbara (not verified) | November 12, 2007 - 9:28am

I think it's a terrific idea to honor the women and men who died defending our country. I even think it's a terrific idea to honor the women and men who died defending George Bush's twisted agenda. Patriots all.

What has been gnawing at my gut over the past several many years (how many? too many!) is how to honor the living veterans. Those already physically and/or mentally maimed and shipped home. For many, "home" is on the streets and under bridges, as LeftyMN notes. What the hell are we doing to our vets??

Take time to read this Daily Kos post. It underscores LeftyMN's comments and gives us food for thought. Like we need more of it? Yeah, we do.

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B (not verified) | November 12, 2007 - 4:20pm

One only has to look a bit further and notice that the Vietnam Wall honors the veterans who died in the line of service in Vietnam. Those who came home and subsequently passed, had been overlooked for years. A stone memorial has now been placed by the Vietnam Wall to remember those who died from the after affects of Agent Orange, Post Traumatice Stress Disorder, and the multitude of other illnesses that ravaged the war. The memorial does not take away the tomatoes, eggs, garbage, and/or words that were thrown at our soldiers as they re-entered the United States after their service to this very county. The Vietnam Wall is a moving tribute to those who gave their lives. It's our turn to move and remember, not only those who died, but those who continue to live beyond the war.

Every name on the Wall has a family attached to it. Reach out and touch, remember, and pray for them too.

Greatly appreciated.
God Bless this great nation of ours.
Barb
A Widow of the Vietnam War

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Anonymous (not verified) | November 12, 2007 - 9:26pm

Sorry to interrupt this dialogue, BUT you need to know there's another really interesting dialogue ongoing at The Rake online. Please excuse unintentional rudeness.

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susan | November 13, 2007 - 1:30pm

Love the Rake. It's so good that I, um, sometimes wonder if there's any reason for the clothesline to chug along. Other than we like our little cadre of readers. I suspect you were a bit tongue in cheek on the "unintentional rudeness" thing, but I hear you.
One question on the comment previous to yours. The treatment of Vietnam vets. Did anyone every see this first hand? Or has this taken on urban legend status? I lived in Madison, WI during part of the war, the bastion of anti-war sentiment. I never, ever, saw a returning vet treated badly. I remember a U of W basketball game where vets were asked to stand and we all applauded. And we were war protesters. But there was a draft, fer pete's sake, and our hearts ached for those sent off, and we never felt anything but sadness for our classmates and brothers who got called up.
Whenever I've asked someone who refers to this horrible treatment of Viet vets if they saw it first hand, they can't recall any incident. I've even asked Viet vets if they have a specific memory of bad treatment, and they admit they don't.
I wonder about this. I sometimes wax on about how tough my father was to live with, and the many ways he shaped me. But when my sister challenges me to name specific things he said or did, there aren't really all that many. There was perhaps a tone of disapproval, and from that I have created a memory log that's not totally born up by the facts.
Perhaps the same is true of the Viet vets. They perceived a nation's disapproval of the war -- the lies, the leaders -- and so came home to a sense of shame and failure. And surely there were moments when some jerks did stupid, despicable things, and so the one fed the other, and the myth was born and became the Word: All vets were treated horribly when they returned home. Also, we'd never had vets return home from a failure. So I think even those who supported the war, like my father in law, didn't know what to make of these who "couldn't get the job done." I sensed more disapproval of Viet vets from him than I did from my colleagues.
Just a thought. If someone saw or heard a specifici incident first hand, I'd love to hear more about it.

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