Monday, November 12, 2007

For Our Veterans...

  • President Bush observed Veteran's Day this way, in Texas.

  • "In their sorrow, these families need to know — and families all across our nation of the fallen — need to know that your loved ones served a cause that is good and just and noble," Bush said. "And as their commander in chief, I make you this promise: Their sacrifice will not be in vain."

    Don't do 'em any favors, President Bush. [There's more to this speech, too, and its context -- more on that, tomorrow, on a more appropriate day.]

  • Here's how our country is honoring too many of our veterans -- with homelessness; cast adrift, sans family, a meaningful support system or... well, home.

  • This is how many loved ones do take care of their beloved vets -- consider their sacrifices, too, and the earthshaking changes to all the lives touched by the consequences of serving our country in times of war.

  • Because, you see, despite our cultural fantasies, political smokescreens and delusions about war, its reality is horrific beyond human comprehension. Nobel Prize-winning novelist John Steinbeck wrote about the reality -- cited here, in this Veteran's Day newspaper editorial, worth reading in full:

  • Steinbeck wrote, "In all kinds of combat the whole body is battered by emotion," he wrote. "The ductless glands pour their fluids into the system to make it able to stand up to the great demand on it. Fear and ferocity are products of the same fluid. Fatigue toxins poison the system. Hunger followed by wolfed food distorts the metabolic pattern already distorted by the adrenaline and fatigue. The body and the mind so disturbed are really ill and fevered. But in addition to all these ills, which come from the inside of man and are given him so he can temporarily withstand pressures beyond his ordinary ability, there is the further stress of explosion.

    This is how you feel after a few days of constant firing. Your skin feels thick and insensitive. There is a salty taste in your mouth. A hard, painful knot is in your stomach where the food is undigested. Your eyes do not pick up much detail and the sharp outlines of objects are slightly blurred. Everything looks a little unreal.

    During this time a kind man is capable of great cruelties and a timid man of great bravery, and nearly all men have resistance to stresses beyond their ordinary ability. ... Some men cannot protect themselves this way and they break..."

  • But this is how many of our veterans would prefer to be honored, for at least a moment today (according to my Army veteran brother-in-law James Szeredy); take a few minutes and visit this link.

  • "I don't like our soldiers being in Iraq, they probably don't like being there either; however, they are our 'Today's Veterans'," Jim wrote in his email. "They must be honored. So, please visit this web site. Let the photos touch your heart. Let's pray they won't be there much longer. P.S. I felt the same way about Vietnam - but I went."

  • Please honor one WW2 veteran, and one of our great living American cartoonists, with a visit to this site, including a USS Stevens checklist -- and consider a commission of art from Sam Glanzman.
  • You both 'win,' if you do so.

    However you do it, observe Veteran's Day.

    Finally, a repeat of information posted (in another context) last week, for the coming weeks:

    In an unusual (to say the least) conjunction of post-Garry Trudeau's visit to The Center for Cartoon Studies happenstance and pre-Christmas Bissette family emails, this arrived in my email:

    When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:
    A Recovering American soldier
    c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
    6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
    Washington , D.C. 20307-5001
    If you approve of the idea, please pass it on to your e-mail list.

    Since this recent email circulating among the Bissette clan -- remember, I do come from a military family -- may also be passing among others of you out there, the followup below is timely. I mention Trudeau, too, because his CCS visit involved discussion of Garry's ongoing work with our military (which I'll get into later this week) and support of various veterans support groups, hospices, systems and charities.

    See, there's a hitch (pun intended): the American Legion Auxiliary sent cards last Christmas to vets at Walter Reed, and the cards were returned as "undeliverable."

    The following information from Walter Reed Army Medical Center should clarify matters, and offer those of you who care a few viable alternatives:

    Mail to Wounded and Recovering Soldiers

    Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to remind those individuals who want to show their appreciation through mail to include packages and letters, addressed to "Any Wounded Soldier" that Walter Reed will not be accepting these packages in support of the decision by then Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001. This decision was made to ensure the safety and well being of patients and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense.

    In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is no longer accepting "Any Service Member" or "Any Wounded Service Member" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.

    Instead of sending an "Any Wounded Soldier" letter or package to Walter Reed, please consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families listed on
  • the "America Supports You" website.

  • Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded service members and their families include:
  • USO Cares,
  • To Our Soldiers,
  • and the Red Cross.

  • For individuals without computer access, your local military installation, the local National Guard or military reserve unit in your area may offer the best alternative to show your support to our returning troops and their families. Walter Reed Army Medical Center will continue to receive process and deliver all mail that is addressed to a specific individual.

    As Walter Reed continues to enhance the medical care and processes for our returning service members, it must also keep our patients and staff members safe while following Department of Defense policy. The outpouring of encouragement from the general public, corporate America and civic groups throughout the past year has been incredible. Our Warriors in Transition are amazed at the thanks and support they receive from their countrymen.

    There ya go, act accordingly, and hope this helps.

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