I dodged the bullet. That was my first thought. My partner gave me a notebook when I retired from the Orange County Vet2Vet Program. She wrote on the cover, “After Action Review”. I wrote, I dodged the bullet. Sooner or later, my vet counselor kept telling me, if you do this work you will know a suicide or murder. Or drug overdoses.
Do you have any thoughts of harming yourself or others? That’s the first question in suicide prevention. Yourself or others. It’s a scary question and not easy to ask, not easy to hear the answer. The answer may be, “I want to kill the S.O.B. Then what? Do you have a plan? Do you have a gun? Would you really kill them all? Then tears explode. The finger is off the trigger. We dodged the bullet.
Sleepless nights praying for disarmament, nuclear disarmament, nuclear family disarmament. Speak to a recruiter about the theater of war. Speak to vets about After Action Review. Speak to mothers and fathers about their dead children. Speak to spouses, now widows. Speak to the fatherless, motherless children.
If you prepare for war, you will fight a war. The war you fight may not be on the battlefield you expected. It may be in your barracks where your company commander rapes you. It may be during a live fire exercise when your best buddy dies in your arms. It may be picking up body parts after an air crash.
I met an MP, a Military Policeman. He did suicide reports. Brain after brain splattered on walls. These are war stories and most do not take place in what is called the theater of war. Ask the vet in the gutter with a needle stuck in his arm. Is that theater? Or the vet who says for the 100th time, “Have we met before?” That’s not comedy. If your idea of war is a Christmas tree of medals pinned on your chest, be careful of what you wish for.
“How many AKs do you think a guy needs?” He asked me. He has three and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. That’s theater. That’s tragedy. That’s the war after the war. My work with Vet2Vet meant sitting in many living rooms, kitchens, hospital and nursing home rooms, at McDonalds and diners, gutters, too. I was also a driver: emergency rooms, psych wards, police stations, court rooms, VA clinics, Castle Point, Bronx VA, supermarkets. Walks in parks along the D&H Canal, the Hudson River and the Delaware. Sometimes many miles and years must go by before a war story can be told.
My work with Vet2Vet meant sitting in many living rooms, kitchens, hospital and nursing home rooms, at McDonalds and diners, gutters, too. I was also a driver: emergency rooms, psych wards, police stations, court rooms,