On Sunday, November 10, our local paper ran an op-ed entitled, “Vets are killing themselves. Why aren’t we outraged?” It discusses the struggles that our veterans are dealing with every day. He cites a fact released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs this year. According to this department, at least 60,000 military veterans have taken their own lives by suicide. You cannot read this statistic without being struck by the tragedy and suffering that must have led to this end.
I’m old enough to remember the Vietnam War. While the war was going on our soldiers were vilified by many of our own citizens. These were young men who never got a chance to decide whether we would wage war on Vietnam. They were drafted and sent far from home to be shot at, killed and wounded, all for a war that they never wanted. Many came home, broken and scarred. But unfortunately, things at home couldn’t have been any worse. They were referred to as pigs and murderers. I still cringe when I remember how they were treated. I have a friend who served in Vietnam. He tells me how they had urine and pigs’ blood thrown on them when they came back. We still bear the scars of that conflict.
The situation is a little different today, although the wars last a lot longer. We are currently involved in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Lybia. I’m no expert on the subject, but it seems that if you take a man or woman, teach them to kill, send them to a strange land, where they may very well see things that no one should ever have to see. Then what? Many of our returning veterans come back with physical and/or mental wounds. We have taught them to kill, but do we teach them how to live with that nightmare? I’m not casting blame. I don’t know.
We Googled “How to Help Veterans” and found an article by Parade Magazine with some terrific ideas. Here is where to find it. https://parade.com/297092/linzlowe/7-ways-to-help-veterans-soldiers-and-their-families . I found another article, https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/88348/11-honorable-ways-you-can-help-veterans. When my dad was alive, he and some of his buddies went to the local VA hospital and discovered that the patients did not have bedside phones. They were retired telephone workers, so they retrieved some cast-off equipment, and every Tuesday went to the hospital to install and maintain the telephone equipment. My son and I did a search for highly-rated agencies that help veterans and decided to donate to the Gary Sinise Foundation https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/.
Just one caveat. Please research whatever charity you are considering. I discovered some charities that were less than honorable.
“My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.” President Jimmy Carter