Archive for November, 2007

War Piece
November 13, 2007

I’m not good at ignoring people on the street. It’s an urban skill I’ve never mastered. If approached by a homeless person, my impulse is to shell out. I never have, of course. It’s been drilled into me that to do so, is akin to feeding a feral cat or listening to a telemarketer. It only encourages the behavior.
But then there are the news reports. One in four homeless people is a veteran. “Support The Troops” only goes so far, I guess. That guy I just waved off, may have put his body on the line to protect my comfortable lifestyle. Now, who in this world can he turn to? I feel like I owe him something more than a pained grimace and directions to Father Joe’s.
I’ve never served in the military, so I’ll have to feel my way through this, but here goes: I think if I were a veteran, I would be furious. It’s bad enough that military men and women are being asked to fight a war that demands no sacrifice on the home front. No discernible inconvenience dampens our civilian lives, except perhaps the vague concern that our tax breaks may be delayed, or that Holiday spending could be a bit down this year. Only those serving, and their families of course, suffer the agonies of war.
And then they come home. And, as in Vietnam, in numbers, again, that can only be estimated, they are ill with physical and mental disorders that demand log-term caring attention. But the evidence on the street suggests they are not getting it.
So I’ll call up my Representative, and say it’s a “national disgrace”. But what do I say to the homeless veteran with his hand extended? . “I…uh, appreciate your service, that’s it!,…appreciate your service.”