Sunday, November 11, 2007

Armistice Day and The Road Ahead

Today is Armistice Day-- the day World War I ended, 89 years ago, on November 11, 1918. Some thoughts:

A few days ago, I was walking through downtown Evanston, from work to catch the el home, and I saw a young couple, a man and a woman, walking together. They were both in their mid-twenties or so and attractive. Then I noticed that the guy had a prosthetic leg, the newer kind that looks very unlike a real leg, but actually function much, much better than the old protheses. It dawned on me that this guy was, in all liklihood, a veteran of this godawful war in Iraq.

I was reminded of this Friday, when my friend Paul, who was the art teacher at the school I used to work with, forwarded me an email that he knew would piss me off as much it did him: it was a picture of George W. Bush giving a horribly burned American soldier a t-shirt, with the caption: "Sorry son, we ran out of all the shirts that said 'I had all my flesh melted off in Iraq for your pointless war and all I got was this stinkin' t-shirt'" I decided not to put that particular picture on my blog (my kids read my blog), but you can see that one, as well as the one that I did put at the top of this post, and others at the web address that follows. Be forewarned-- the images are rough. And it's infuriating to see George W. Bush cheerleading as he looks upon the damage he's caused.

With this war, I feel a strange sense of guilt; though I vehemently opposed it, and see now that every reason I had for opposing it was correct, I feel like I should have or could have done more to prevent it. I know that this is silly-- the right wing military-industrial juggernaut that brought this war on was going to get its way no matter what I personally did. I became determined to make sure to do whatever I can to make sure these men and women get the medical care-- both physical and psychological-- that they'll need for the coming years. There'll be people needing help for more than a half century, long after this war's become paragraph of a chapter buried in high school history textbooks. It's my belief that vets are entitled to excellent lifetime medical care, partiularly if they've been injured, and college. That's not happening for all of them, particularly the reservists who were mobilized.

I fished around and found a couple of organizations that seem on the up and up. One is the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA. They're at:

According to their Wikipedia entry, they were formed by Paul Rieckhoff, who was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was a reservist living in Manhattan when the planes struck the towers, and returned to active duty to try to do something about the bastards who were responsible. He was instead sent to Iraq.

Another is the Iraq War Veterans Organization, or IWVO. They're at:

They seem to focus on making sure vets get the benefits they're entitled to and to raising awareness about the problem of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in vets (an issue my own family deals with because of my brother).

If you're enjoying a day off of work tomorrow, remember who's paid the price for this and every war. And if you have a few spare bucks, maybe stop by one of those websites.


'Bubbles' said...

Thanks for this post, JY. When we lived in Connecticut there was a parade. I remember my mom giving me a wonderful lecture before we left for our day of parade and picnic in small New England America. Basically, she said, "Don't have too much fun, unless you are willing to remember why this day exists at all."

I'm so thankful. I'll always remember her heartfelt remarks. She had a brother that fought in WWII, a husband in Korea, and a son drafted in the Vietnam nightmare. She didn't lose one of them, and I know she recognized the blessing that was.

That day at the parade while my friends were cheering their own kids in the parade, because of my mom's influence, I looked at as many of the old men from the vet organizations in the eye and smiled and really, really tried to convey my thanks.

I remember seeing genuine appreciation for my recognition. (or maybe they were just old pervs that liked a cute "young" girl giving them attention) Just kidding!

Anyway, nice post. I worry about our Iraq vets so much. I really do.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Infuriating is definitely the right word here. Man, what I wouldn't give to send W. to the front line for hopes of changing his perspective.

Tenacious S said...

Johnny, I'll tell you what's totally infuriating to me. Over the last decade or so they have closed Veteran's hospitals at an alarming rate. When we lived in California our next door neighbor, an elderly gentleman (90+ years old WWII vet), needed healthcare. Up until that point, he had been able to go to the VA in San Francisco, which was close to his home and was easily accessible for him. They closed it. This turned his half hour trip to a nearly two hour trip. Keep in mind, this is someone in a metropolitan area. In my mind, these people should be able to go to any hospital they wish for all treatment with the same level of benefits. It's sick.

Skylers Dad said...

W continues to try and shave off funds from health care for these vets who need benefits, all trying to get more money to throw into that cesspool of a war.

It just sickens me more and more...

Natalie said...

A fantastic post. Veterans have gotten the short end of the stick in countless wars. While i don't expect this one to be any different i am sadly not surprised. I agree that not only should they be taken care of for life but also have access to the best care possible.