Thursday, July 27, 2006

Jason Cooper

The Progressive: War Vet's Mother
This is the story of a mother who has been flying her flag upside down as a distress sign, because our vets are in distress. They are coming home with problems both physical and mental and are not being treated appropriately. There are many stories of the VA hospitals both good and bad for the physical wounds, it is the mental scars that are far more difficult to deal with. First off these are soldiers they are not going to want to admit that they have a problem, especially not a problem that doesn't involve cool looking scars to show their friends. That's not mend as an insult to soldiers that simply saying that I think a lot of men, myself included don't want to get help for a mental problem because it is mental we think its something that can be worked out alone, and I am going to assume that soldiers feel this way to, and many of them probably feel even more included to refuse help. This particular soldier realized they had a problem but did not want to go to the VA because the last time he was there, for an injured wrist, he was turned away because they were full. This soldier was in pain, and not the kind that they give vicodin for. This young man who was about a year younger than myself saw things that I don't even want to try to imagine. There are some images that simply cannot be removed from memory. And when he got home to his friends they asked if he shot anyone. That was the wrong question. It’s difficult to try to fit in while in a strange environment but it is altogether different when one feels like an outsider while in familiar territory. To be a stranger in your own home must be a terrible feeling. This young man obviously felt that way as only 4 months after getting home in high spirits he hung himself. I cannot even begin to understand what this family is going through but I give them my deepest sympathy. I had a cousin who took his own life when I was young. It was the first time I had ever experienced death and I think of him often, despite having limited memories of him. Suicide tears at the heart of a family, they can never be quite the same after that, and when it was a soldier returning from an illegal war then it should truly tear at the heart and soul of this nation.

A big part of the article is about the upside down flag, which seems like a very fitting response to this tragedy. It is a call for help, an upside down flag is an international distress symbol and this family and this country are deeply distressed.

There is nothing I can say to this family that would feel appropriate, there is no condolences for this. All I can say is that I’m sorry.

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