Veterans. Many are old, having fought and survived wars long over. Too many more are young. They come home damaged, missing one or more body parts, blinded, burned, emotionally scarred. They'd not have survived in wars past because the medical technology was not yet available. But now it is and home they come.
Forget the jobs that aren't here or the services we owe them that are so lacking. They come home to families, wives and children. What about those wives? Their goodbye embraces were with whole, physically and mentally sound young men. Their welcome home embraces are to often broken bodies and minds. Yet they are there. Waiting with open arms and strong shoulders and fragile emotions.
It's a sad statistic that the divorce rate for Iraq and Afghan vets is up some 42%. I'd wager it isn't for the lack of trying to make those marriages work. The wives have been home bearing the responsibility of raising the family, managing a household and maintaining some semblance of normalcy while the husbands are 1000s of miles away in a strange land fighting for a sometimes questionable reason. How can anyone, no matter the training, be prepared for what they must do and what they witness happening not only to themselves but their comrades? How could they not come back scarred? It's the price of surviving a war. Everyone is scarred. The families as well as the soldiers.
Yes, those families have their own battles to fight. The wrenching fear of what might happen then the question of how they will cope when the worst does happen. It takes a courage unto itself. I salute them. It takes a huge amount of love and devotion to focus on the man inside the wounded bodies. They do though, you can see it in a touch or a look or even a moment of reflection. It played out dozens of times as their stories were told time and again this Veterans Day weekend.
I'd like to think their sacrifices have been made for a grateful country. They have if it's those of us who sit here free and safe and warm because of them. I cannot help but wonder, however, about the contempt of the government when records are lost, diagnoses nitpicked and basic needs denied.
I cannot help but wonder when it is rumored that the next Secretary of Defense is likely to be a man who has nothing but contempt for the military. Senator John Kerry.
If it comes to pass it should be proof positive as to whether or not this administration has the backs of those serving overseas, be it military or civilian posts. Benghazi raised the question. John Kerry as Secretary of Defense would answer it.
Our military and their families who face not only the horror of war in real time but also the horror that can be the aftermath, deserve better. Don't we all?