Just recently I was at the Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center attending those dreaded all day appointments… While waiting patiently for my name to be called, I took a moment to look around at the heroes who filled this massive facility. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands of Veterans sitting and standing waiting patiently just like I was.
You can’t help to notice all the Veterans who proudly displayed their branch of service for which they belong to and the war for which they fought in. There were all types of Veterans, young and old, black and white who share common emotional scars and physical injuries.
As a “young buck” Veteran, I noticed that each of us in that building quietly kept to themselves. I can’t help to wonder why that is? Though, no answer is the same for all Veterans, I do think there are some good reasons why this happens. You see, when I’m in a place like the VA, surrounded by Veterans or at places that remind me of the military, I have a tendency to reflect back on my service to my country and my comrades who fought next to me through the years. There is so much military pride here that you can’t help but to think back and remember your part, your small contribution that makes you proud of the accomplishments you’ve made.
Another reason why we tend to keep to ourselves is simply because of discipline… Everyone sitting around me has a disciplined personality, molded to respond when addressed. It’s not to be rude or inconsiderate, but to be respectful to our fellow Vets and our moments of inner-peace.
Most of all, I believe the reason for this quiet calm from within these walls, is because the pain still lingers… The physical pain is predictable, but the emotional roller coaster that remains in our soul can be a beast to handle. The memory of war, the flashbacks, the loss of comrades and the poisoning of guilt that can deepen over time. But the one common struggle that I believe the majority of us share is the sinking feeling that your service is no longer needed… The majority of us Veterans did not choose to leave the service, but due to injuries, we can no longer perform our duties to standards. This fact is hard to swallow and difficult to accept.
What makes a Veteran wish they could still serve today? Is it how we were trained and the experiences we endured? Or is it the soul of a Vet that’s full of patriotism? Whatever the answer might be, these heroes have a story that the everyday American wouldn’t be able to understand. This is why most Vets will refrain from sharing their turmoil that still burns inside.
So, we continue to wait patiently for our names to be called, we sit disciplined and respectful as each of us search for our inner-peace, while proudly reflecting back on our tour of duty…