Alex is VetSpeak.org contributor who testified at VVAW WSI, Detroit, 1971, and joined us at WS: Iraq & Afghanistan to observe and to write about the event from a Past Winter Soldier perspective, and to serve on our front gate security group at the site, the George Meany College of Labor, in Silver Springs, Maryland, with his wife Cathy at his side, and in the company of 10 other VetSpeak contributors and supporters who also attended.
Friday, 14.3.08 noon
I'm silent as an hoot owl on the roost in this ample auditorium with some 500+ other diverse citizens... young, old and not many in between... angry, freaked out... aging vets and peaceniks... my people... I feel more comfortable here than anywhere... no one passive, everyone silent and respectful.
We're listening to the
A couple is talking about their son... what they say reminds me of one of our foster daughters... not easy stuff to listen to... but riveting.
Nightmares. The son I knew fell apart. Panic attacks. Unable to focus. Balance is compromised. A tree picked from behind the house. PTSD. "Come in to see a therapist as soon as possible. He did. Six employees to get him down and hold him there." Hanging, suffocation or overdose. Should take away the knives and that hose. Or one of these, but outside the house. Three phone calls.
Why should I take the call? Why should I listen? How is it possible not to listen? A mother's words demand involuntarily commitment.
A song now makes sense... this testimony has become unquestionably powerful, so in some ways I'm just as glad the words are not coming thru... how much longer can I sit here... should be back by the gate soon to check out people who might be trying to disrupt these hearings.
I'm just as glad the lights are bright, and for the people who read from prepared texts to track an untimely death. Many deaths... mostly Iraqi, just like we did the Vietnamese... Haji... Gook...
This way hidden wounds can be seen. A suicide will not happen here now. Just grief. A woman leaves weeping. A sister, a mother? Why aren't we all weeping and storming the White House to bring that jerk to justice?
We find ourselves forced into ourselves, alone. But we are not left behind, just sickened... silent... weak... the frail spirit exhausted by this disease of death.
Even this hard chair feels good on my sore butt. It is something real and physical, it is mine and alive. I will not kill myself.
No pain could equal the lone tree and the names of so many more. We are not the only family, the only Gold War Family.
No funds, no staff, no support, so he is ignored. Each story worse than the last.
Even one from Missouri to end things... home from the war a few weeks... nothing helping... no doc can reach him... rampaged in the house last night so the sheriff had to come out... he's he jail now... they are going to charge him... that's all they know to do... keep him in jail... charge him... he's gone crazy.
It's over... time to go back and try to talk to my fellow vets about the past when we were young and crazy with our own senseless war. It still rots within so many souls... so many families... the sacrifice of youth for almost nothing.