Veterans Day may only happen one day out of the year, but veterans — and their loved ones — live with the after effects of war everyday. They also deserve our thanks, attention and appreciation everyday.
Last week, POV launched a new project: Regarding War. Conceived as a place for citizens and soldiers to share stories and discuss the realities of war, Regarding War has gotten off to a thought-provoking and moving start through the posts of our first set of bloggers, who have been writing on the topic of Coming Home: Veterans Readjusting to Civilian Life.
Vietnam War veteran Arthur Varanelli wrote about dealing with — and not dealing with — PTSD:
A very experienced and learned psychiatrist once told me that the mind can compartmentalize things. What this meant to me was that I took my Vietnam battlefield experiences and put them in a box, so to speak, and tied down the lid with locks and chains. I did this in an attempt to forget the whole thing and never have to deal with it again. It did not work. Read more »
Carla Lois, the mother of an Iraq veteran, wrote about what her son faced when he came home:
Those that have been the most unhelpful have been the uninformed (sometimes mean-spirited) who try unsuccessfully to ascribe the myths and politics of the wars to the soldiers. When he began college, he learned not to mention his combat experience to the naive and mostly misinformed younger students who used the opportunity to only openly deride him and his service and disparage the Iraq mission which he still strongly supports. Read more »
Former Army Capt. and journalist Luis Carlos Montalván shares his own experiences, which are all too familiar to many veterans:
I served two combat tours in Iraq, sustained a number of wounds and injuries, dealt with divorce, and over the past two years since departing the military, like many other veterans, I’ve faced many problems with VA healthcare, disability and educational entitlements, and a myriad of problems associated with transitioning out of the war zone and into civilian life. Read more »
And Estella Post, proud military spouse, just attended a wreath-laying ceremony in France, and confronted the thousands of graves at the Meuse Argonne American Military Cemetery:
The grey skies were thick with fog and the mud squished underneath me as I wandered through row upon row of graves. Knowing each white cross was actually a person, my feet were propelled by a sense of duty to embrace the unique identity of each cross. Over 14,000 stories that ended before they had a chance to be written spread over the grounds like crumpled up drafts of an important letter.
My mind wandered: Who were you? Who loved you? What suffering felled you and were you alone when your heart beat for the last time. Can you feel that someone still cares for your mystery? Read more »
We’re thrilled to see that veterans and civilians are already chiming in with their own comments, and many of our bloggers have started a conversation with their readers. At a time when our nation is in the midst of two wars, and as President Obama comes closer to a decision about whether or not to increase troop presence in Afghanistan, conversations around war — especially the human face of war — are more important than ever. Visit Regarding War and read through the site, leave a comment or share your story. We’d love to hear from you.