On Veterans’ Day: What does it mean to honor our vets?

The platitudes and patriotism are easy. Honoring veterans with brass bands, politicians, and lots of flags takes little time, money, or energy. What’s hard is taking care of vets who are suffering the long-term effects of their service on battlefields. The physical wounds are one thing; the psychic and spiritual wounds quite another. On this Veterans’ Day, I’ve collected a few stories about veterans struggling to put their lives together after serving their country.

From David Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service, a story of one vet’s struggle with PTSD. 

Here’s a link to an earlier story on PTSD and meditation.

Recent veterans (those who have served since 2001) continue to face double-digit unemployment. The rate hasn’t changed in the last year. One important reason: the fact that the number of those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan is now around 1 million, and the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 13.2%

18 veterans die each day from suicide (Harpers Index, Feb, 2012)

About 1 million vets are on SNAP (food stamps). House Republicans honor vets by proposing to cut benefits for 170,000 of them.

I’ve previously blogged about homelessness and veterans here and here.

Mark Sandlin expresses my feelings:

If we want to truly thank our veterans, we need to give them justice when they return home, we need to remember the real cost of war and we need to grieve with their families.

In my mind, today should be more of a day of mourning than a day of celebration. I’m not advocating to turn it in to another Memorial Day as much as to be more aware of its realities. We need it to be a real reminder of the real costs of war. We must not forget. We must not forget the lives lost. We must not forget the limbs lost. We must not forget the mental stability lost. We must not forget the veterans on the streets and those who pull up chairs to empty plates. War is hell – and frequently the other side of war is a living hell.

We must not forget.

A prayer for veterans and those who serve in military service:

Merciful and Almighty God, whose Son came among us and laid down his life for us, showing us the fullness of your love for all people: we remember with prayerful and thankful hearts before you this day the veterans and active military of this country, who have given of themselves in love for the sake of peace. We pray for the living, the departed, for those still serving, and their families – with gratitude and for healing. We pray, Lord, that you would make us grateful for the peace they sought by making each of us more peaceful. So Lord, as you taught us, we pray for our enemies: that all people would come to know the unending love and joy of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (via Jonathan Melton)

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