Thursday, November 6, 2008

The tragedies of war

When you hear about them, older men, a few women, those who served their country in past battles, it all seems far away. Romantic to some, scary to others. The ravages of war touch some, but not many these days. 

I had the occassion to go to the Veteran's Hospital in Portland this week and have to say I think I may have audibly gasped upon walking into the waiting room. This VA center has a very active waiting area. As soon as the doors opened I was faced with a sea of walkers, oxygen tanks and men who had clearly seen better days. What was difficult for me in the moment, was difficult for them for the rest of their lives. 

Why don't they show these men when they show ads for "be all you can be." If all you want to be is aging with war wounds and potentially unknown substances poisoning you from years on foreign soil, then yes, by all means, "be all you can be." 

After processing this sea of infirmity, I pressed on to talk to the good folks who are using research and technology to help their fellow citizens deal with their ailments, medications, and ongoing healthcare issues. There is great research going on in these institutions, and my hope is that these war veterans can gain some value from it. 

I'm also going to advocate for putting VA hospitals next to recruitment centers, just to make it fair and be sure you know what you are getting into. 

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