Monday, November 12, 2012

Beyond Honor

The Boston Globe has a great story today (Nov. 12, 2012) about Massachusetts’ programs to support veterans. Apparently, the Commonwealth has become a model in this regard. The article appears in the print version of the paper on pages B1 and B3, titled “Helping Veterans on their terms,” by James Sullivan. Online, the title is “Mass. Agency reaches out to help veterans; Innovations called model for US.”

The Massachusetts model involves serious outreach efforts, spearheaded entirely by veterans on staff. The services overlap, so they try not to have gaps for vets to fall into. The programs are very proactive. And it seems to be working in a very positive way to reach veterans where they need the services most. They find them on the streets, and homeless shelters. These folks don’t just sit in offices waiting for people to come and apply for services.

I am a peace activist myself. I wish we had never gone into Iraq or Afghanistan. But I absolutely honor the service ethos of the men and women in the military, and the sacrifices they make, and that their families make when they serve. My older brother is a vet, my nephew from my sister is in the military now. My brother works for the Veterans Administration, treating veterans’ mental problems. I try to listen and understand.

We owe veterans a huge debt, of gratitude, and honor. We also owe it to heal the wounds they return with. They often sign up as very young people, full of idealism, or at least naiveté. They are trained to kill other human beings, and put into situations of appalling brutality and violence. We should be prepared for some damage when they return, and provide the support network they need. I was so pleased to read about the Massachusetts program!

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