Can We Talk?

Devon Portney

On my way to school every day, I pass a man standing on the corner at Neponset Circle. He holds a piece of cardboard that says: ‘Homeless vet, 3 kids, please help.’

It always makes me sad when I see homeless people trying to collect money. It makes me angry when I see veterans doing it. This is not to say that all homeless people don’t deserve help, but what happened to taking care of the men that took care of us?

Whether you agree with the Vietnam War, the war in Iraq, or any other war, you can’t deny that veterans deserve the utmost respect and gratitude. They have put their lives on the line to defend this country (or so they’ve been told, but that’s another discussion for another day).

The atrocities that men are witness to and often a part of can scar them for life. Some servicemen can never get their lives back; they are forever tormented by the horrors of war. Many can’t deal with the stress and can’t hold on to jobs. Often they turn to alcohol and or drugs, which depletes their money, health, and of course, employment.

In the Vietnam War, almost 60,000 American men lost their lives. After the war, over 100,000 men died from alcohol or drug abuse, or outright suicide.

The government spends millions of dollars preparing men to go off to war, and keeping them at war, but where is the post war effort? Where is the government help for men (or their families) once they’ve sacrificed their minds, limbs, and lives?

It almost seems that soldiers are considered things, not people. Even the term GI (Government Issue) suggests expendable property rather than a meaningful life.

To all men and women now serving in the military, in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere: Remember who you are and where you came from. Get help readjusting, talk to someone who specializes in post traumatic stress disorder, or who works with veterans. If you are fortunate enough to come home, don’t let the rest of your life be disrupted.

Remember, when you consider the men who so willingly sent you off to fight: it is far more courageous to march off to war, then to

wage it.