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Veterans Day - Not Just Another Holiday

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:10 pm    Post subject: Veterans Day - Not Just Another Holiday Reply with quote

Veterans Day -Not Just Another Holiday

Rodney D. Coates *

Today we begin to celebrate yet another Veterans' Day. With over 4,662 U.S. and Coalition casualties, and an estimated 186,476 Iraqi's dead, another 350,000 Americans have been wounded, and possibly a million Iraqis - this day should be more than just another holiday. As large as these numbers are, many, many more psychically wounded are walking around. These walking wounded, with no physical scars, often can go unnoticed, and are often ignored by all, even family members.

We can expect the total numbers of those who suffer from war related psychic wounds, often referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, to exceed a million. Many of these wounds may take years to surface. Many will surface, but will be misunderstood, misrepresented or just misdiagnosed.

These veterans will find their story buried on the back pages of our newspapers across this country another 'unknown' man has committed suicide. Feeling despondent, alone, and without anyone to cry too - he put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger, thus ending a life that could have been full of promise, now gone forever. What should be a story of recovery, will be just another tragedy possibly yet buried on the back pages of our papers. Other back page stories will talk about a young woman walking the streets, doing whatever she needs to do to get her fix, to forget the pain, and to make it through another day, another night, or just another escape. Yet another story will decry the young man, full of pain, who shoots his wife and kids, and then himself in a strange ritualistic act of cleansing. All of these stories, explicit in every detail, are even now being duplicated across our nation, yet the names of these Americans are either missing or blurred by the numbness associated with what some have been described as our walking wounded.

As we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day, let's ensure that it is not just another holiday. Let's take this time to reflect and pledge that we will not forget those who have continue to make the ultimate sacrifice. Those, who are neither dead, yet not quite alive, we must not forget. Many have suffered; many continue to suffer -both here and abroad. Veterans Day should be more than just another holiday - it should also be a day of healing, restoration, and reconciliation. Let us not bury another generation of veterans, civilians, combatants, and non-combatants on the back pages of our consciousness. If you value freedom and democracy, regardless of position or political persuasion -let us reach out to our veterans, and others who may be walking wounded -casualties of yet another war. Perhaps in doing, we can look to a day when there will be no reasons for another cohort to join this special club -of veterans.

Note: Rodney D. Coates, a Viet Nam Veteran, is Professor of Sociology and Gerontology at Miami University.
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