Monday, May 26, 2014

A Memorial Day for All Veterans, Not Just the Military Ones

I stand across and separately from military professionals this Memorial Day with some understanding on this holiday we call “Memorial Day” – many of whom, like me, suffer from PTSD: men and women who have knowingly stepped into the institution of the United States' military and gone to war – these who have made service inside the walls of violence their very profession – and those that have been drafted or conscripted. Those have suffered and those who have died. I respect you. I respect your family and friends, who gave you and your precious time up for the service of our country.

I stand more closely with civilians with PTSD who are fighting wars in their homes and in their neighborhoods – every day, not as any profession or role, but as individuals who have been and are being bullied, oppressed, abused, assaulted, and raped. I respect you. I respect your family and friends, who gave you and your precious time up for the service of life itself.

You are also fallen soldiers. You are at the same risk as those who have served in the military.  Perhaps even more risk. More because you are unrecognized. And your war is more often a private, invisible one. There are no honorable, dignified words available in our culture to describe the phenomenon. When someone says, "I served in the Gulf War," there are knowing nods and thanks for service. When someone says, "My wife beat me," there are more often messages of disbelief, denial, and shame.

You have no uniform for this role, this position. There are no accolades, ceremonies for this rank if you perform well. There are no honorary guards to receive you and salute you as patriots. No special government facilities that offer special privileges to restore your dignity. No social clubs where you can commune and share your stories. Precious little camaraderie and kinship. And no Purple Hearts to be received waiting with your name on it or to be received by your family if you have died. There is no institution name like “the military” that has some measure of honor to define what you face and deal with.  Just a general word: violence.

For these people, people who wake up every day and try to live, and celebrate life again – those striving to make the world a better place for everyone -- still and in spite of the violence they have known and still live with. For all who have been lost to it. For all who have lost others to it. For the Veterans of Everyday, Civilian Wars in the United States and around the world, I wish you the utmost respect on this Memorial Day. Until there is a day set aside for you as broadly set aside in these United States....

I see you. And I salute you.

Labels: , , , , , ,