Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Homeless veterans

Do you know that World War II veterans by the thousands suffered from "shell shock," or what we now call post traumatic stress disorder?

Even though they were fighting for a worthy cause, believed they were on the side of right and had God in their corner .. many simply could not handle the fact that they killed people. Legally.

Many were hospitalized without any fanfare or publicity. Others left to fend for themselves.

While most soldiers, hopefully, are not forever left emotionally or psychologically crippled by their memories or knowledge of killing people - men, women and children - legally, too many are.

Over the years, the problem of caring for soldiers who have been wounded by their experiences has grown exponentially. In too many instances, soldiers are discouraged from receiving help for mental issues; in others, they are afraid to reach out for assistance.

Families whose veterans have come home forever changed - and not for the better - can give you first hand accounts of the acclimation difficulties they have encountered.

Many of the veterans we see homeless, lost, addicted and scorned by many "good" citizens are, in fact, left over from having served their country in ways most of us would never consider. It's too nasty. And there are the mistakes they made .. along with the memories .. the memories.

Memories not just of their actions, but the misery they have witnessed happening to their friends, comrades, innocent civilians and even the enemy.

This is part of the American collateral damage not cared for or about after they have followed the orders for which they were underpaid and in all too many cases, misled into what can only be considered horrific circumstances.

America's own evaluation of the situation in Iraq has recently been evaluated as the result of "arrogance" and "stupidity" on behalf of those sending our troops into harm's way.

Vets are coming home without limbs, faces, and in too many cases a job, a family or their right mind.

Since I am treated at a Veteran's Administration hospital (I am an Air Force vet), I can tell you that I have seen noticeably many more amputees there than ever. The one thing these maimed veterans do seem to have: a great attitude. You go, guys and girls!

But there are others who are trying like hell - and unsuccessfully - to put their minds back together. The psychiatric clinic waiting room is full and we hear that there are more budget cuts on the way.

If it's true that we create our own reality, I wonder if these lost vets even have any idea of what they are capable of creating, considering that their experiences may have made them feel blocked from creating -- or recreating -- anything other than their horrifying past.

I try to at least say hi and chat, because they seem to enjoy a few minutes of my time and I figure there but for fortune go you and I ...


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