Thank You, From a Would-Be Hippy by Pip Helix (Davin’s Den)

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This Veterans Day has me thinking about the men and women sacrificing everything to serve and protect our country, and for this, I want to say thank you.  Davin’s Den has friends and fans in the military, so some may think that this is pandering, but I am sincere in my gratitude to those people for doing a job that, frankly, I don’t think that I would be capable of.

Putting politics aside just for today, I think that some of my more liberal friends would be surprised to know that I am as supportive of our military as I am, but it’s not the bigwigs of the military complex that I am supporting, but the troops themselves, and their long-suffering families.  Every time I see one of those Youtube videos of a member of the military surprising their family by coming home and showing up at their kid’s play or ballgame, I admit, I tear up.  It really brings home how much time they have to spend away from their loved ones and the comforts of home.  I feel a little twinge of guilt realizing that I am sitting cozily on the couch, watching the commercial about the deliriously happy dog leaping all over his mistress when she gets home from service.  I can’t imagine spending months, years away from my husband, my family and friends and my cats.  Oh my god, I missed my cats when I went away for a long weekend recently!  Thank the heavens my friend I was visiting had cats to keep me occupied, or there might have been a pet store trip necessary.  I’m exaggerating (a little), but the idea of being away for the stretches of time military people routinely must do is unbearable.

Once, when I was little, my Dad brought me to Hackensack, New Jersey, where the S.S. Ling submarine was docked. (Are submarines “docked”?)  Anyway, we went down into the sub, and it gave me a little bit of an idea of what conditions might have been like in the submarine in which my father served was like.  Very short, cold showers, tiny bunks, being underwater for days at a time, trapped in a tin can with a bunch of muscle-bound, sweaty men…  Hold on, I’m getting distracted from my point.  The point was that it was my first indication of the deprivation of modern comforts are like for the military, not even to mention the fear and trauma they suffer. 

Having grown up too late to experience the ‘60’s counterculture first hand, but long ago enough to have looked back longingly at the music, art and social changes, I had the rose-colored glasses on about what hippies were about and thought the anti-war movement was something I’d missed out on.  Whether it was or not, I’ll skip over right now, because the part of that era I am ashamed of is the way that veterans were treated during that time period.  It is horrifying that our returning men, already traumatized by what they had experienced in a confusing war in jungles half-way around the world, were attacked and treated as criminals on their return home.  When you see how many homeless men are veterans of Vietnam, you can see the damage we inflicted on our own, insult added to injury, and I am embarrassed for the hippies who thought they were in the right.  They were fighting the wrong people.

Today, hearing about the difficulty that troops have in getting the correct gear to protect themselves on the front lines, and the miserable excuse for aftercare that we have to offer our wounded and traumatized veterans, I am angry that our government seems to always find the money for a war, but never finds it for social programs, including the ones benefiting our veterans and the soldiers’ families. Our veterans should receive the best care, and V.A. Hospitals should be the envy of the world.

I don’t think that anyone can possibly know how hard being a serviceperson is until they are in the thick of it, and even mentally preparing themselves for the hardships cannot possibly match the actuality.  Still, these brave people serve our country, putting their lives on the line for us every day, and sacrifice more that we will ever understand.  So, even from someone too young to be an actual hippy, yet too liberal to agree with a lot of our government’s military choices, I bow to the men and women of our armed services, current and past, and humbly thank you.   

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