After It's Over, Understanding Veterans Day
Veterans Day is a strange time for me. It’s a day when I feel disconnected from the activities and events happening around me. With all the parades, TV programs, ceremonies and expressions of appreciation for my service, my emotions are a mixture of gratitude, ambivalence and anger.
Veterans Day is a wonderful time to educate and outreach to help vets. It is a perfect opportunity to talk about Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suicide. It is a day to highlight the 11% unemployment rate among all vets with an astounding 20% rate for Iraq and Afghan war vets. It is a day to support the tens of thousands of homeless veterans across the country. Thankfully much of this is happens every day. But that is not why we have Veterans Day.
There was a time when I appreciated Veterans Day more than I do today. I was younger and less contemplative about my experiences as a soldier and what it meant to serve in the U.S. military. To be clear, I respect the military and the women and men who serve. I know what it is like to make the sacrifices they make every day. I made them. Spending weeks in the field or working late into the night in the motor-pool. There are many tasks, large and small, which soldiers must do to be ready for the call. This readiness comes at a steep price, time taken from family and friends; time away from living.
Read the full essay with a few pictures.
Written by Michael T. McPhearson