Thursday, January 27, 2005

“We’re gonna flood the VA”

I met a man who just came back from Iraq and Afghanistan. I met him for the first time two nights ago. He is a reservist in the Navy, rated as an equipment operator in the SEABEES. He is also the Command Master Chief for his unit, so he was the senior enlisted man in his unit, and therefore the one responsible for the morale and welfare of the enlisted men in a very direct way. What was striking were his few comments about what he had had to do, and some of the things that have happened as a result. His unit was assigned to some “digs.” What this entailed was being guided to a place and then digging to see what they could find. They were searching for the mass graves. His unit found one. While I didn’t hear a number, it was plenty of people who hade been killed, as he spoke briefly about how about 40 of the people had been shot in the temple, yet the others must have been buried alive, as there wasn’t evidence of any similar type of wounding to the other remains. He then, not in a complaining manner, matter of factly discussed going to some appointments, which most certainly were some type of group therapy sessions for those who had been assigned to recover the bodies. He had some spare time before making it all the way back to the States, and commented about going to the base hospital as much as possible for “appointments.” Then he remarked the military medical system here can’t handle the demand for counseling, and he has been told to go to the VA. He has once and saw about 100 people in line before him for all sorts of appointments. When we wrapped up this part of the discussion, he said: “We’re going to flood the VA.” I’d ask that you pray for the peace these men and women will need to get on with life, after having to have been a part of details to help heal another nation in the aftermath of so much evil. And, if you get the chance, lobby for making sure the services take care of them at the professional level.

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