What’s Up Wednesday: The Unknown Soldier

Hey guys. This week has been a particularly weird one. I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done this past week. I made a little progress with Daughters of the Flame, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. As for my other projects, I’ve got nothing.

First, there’s the website fiasco. I tried to send a friend my website, only to find out that it had been taken down by my host. When I logged in to the site, it popped up a message saying that my site was in violation, and then listed a bunch of things that it “could be” but gave no specifics. It’s been almost a week and I still haven’t heard from them, nor have I ever received the e-mail they said they would be sending with more details. I couldn’t even access my control panel to try and assess and fix any problems. After hours of wasted time, I finally did what I should have done from the get go. I changed to a much more reputable, albeit pricier, host. I guess you get what you pay for.

So needless to say, I haven’t gotten a ton of writing done. What I have been doing is a lot of thinking.

Last Wednesday night at work, I had a run in with a guy in his late twenties/early thirties. I’ll spare you the details but things got a little heated. I said something I shouldn’t have, although I didn’t think it was a big deal until he went off the deep end and began screaming and slamming his fists on our counter. At this point, I probably should have called the police, but as it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t.

After his freakout, he broke down in tears and went outside to have a cigarette. I went out hoping I could talk him down. As it turns out, he was a combat veteran and our confrontation had triggered his PTSD. Over the next few hours, he told me about some of the horrific things he’d seen and done while deployed. He told me about having to grab a kid by the hair to drag him away from a teddy bear on the side of the road because it had a bomb in it. He told me about the children he couldn’t get to in time. He told me many other things that I won’t post here because I’m not sure all of my readers can stomach it.

He then told me about the hell he’d been through since returning home. He told me how the V.A. has given him no real help. He’s tried to get counseling for his PTSD, but they just give him more drugs. He told me that he hasn’t been able to hold down a job and is essentially homeless with a baby on the way. He told me how he’s now addicted to both the prescription drugs that the V.A. keeps giving him and illegal ones that he’s progressed to. The whole time he was telling me all this, he was drinking heavily from a bottle of vodka stashed in his pocket.

Then we came to the worst part of his story. He told me that on an almost weekly basis, he gets a call telling him yet another one of his comrades who made it home had survived all of that, but hadn’t been able to survive being home. He then told me that the week prior, he also had tried to kill himself by downing a bunch of morphine pills and hanging himself. Luckily a friend caught him and rushed him to the hospital. He had his stomach pumped and the next day, the V.A. sent him on his way with another handful of prescriptions.

Now, I don’t tell you all this to make you feel sorry for him. Nor am I trying to exploit his hardships for my personal gain. I’m telling you this because I fully believe that we, as a country, need to start doing better for our combat veterans. First and foremost, all returning soldiers should be entitled to as much psychological counselling as they need. If they need it for the rest of their lives, then so be it.

Bases should also have a separate barracks for vets who find themselves homeless. If it needs to be fenced off from the rest of the base, then so be it. But no soldier should have to live on the street.

Finally, there have got to be enough jobs within the military for veterans who can’t find work otherwise.

These are just my views on the matter. I admit that I don’t have all the answers, but this attitude from politicians that seems to say, “We got what we needed from you, now on your way.” has got to stop. Yes, doing these things won’t be cheap,  but we need to consider the continuing care of our soldiers part of the cost of war. It’s bad enough that these men, even the ones who do “make it”, just aren’t the same people as the ones who left. We owe it to them for giving up their youth.

And as Forrest Gump said, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

I’ll see you on Friday with another piece of flash fiction.

Until then, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

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