Wednesday, July 12, 2006

One Vet at a Time....

I'm going to cut to the chase here folks....

PTSD is real.It's not something you can"understand"unless you've lived through it either.Not to take away from other causes for PTSD,those triggering events that create it,but the one that stems from War can be especially heinous and long lasting.I personally believe there should be a separate official catagory for PTSD caused from being in a war zone,perhaps someday astute doctors will recognize that(if they haven't already,I'm admittedly woefully behind when it comes to mental health research).You can't lump all PTSD cases into one catagory because the people who are suffering need different things(beyond the basics,which I'll get to in a minute)in order to reclaim a normal life again.

Being around death and shit blowing up and bullets whizzing by your head on a daily or minute to minute basis IS NOT NORMAL.Having to kill people isn't normal,nor is expecting to be killed at any moment.To expect service people to come home and just be fine and dandy is idiotic.Same goes for the people who live in the country where the war is,though that is not where my thoughts lie,not just now(but I DO think about that,alot).

Some vets will return home and end up ok.Having a family and community who love you helps.Having a home to come home to ain't too shabby either.Being able to find work that gives you some dignity,having friendships helps,none of this is really brain science.This is not to say returning military personnel won't have problems if they have a support system,but it sure the hell can make a HUGE difference.Problem is many do not,and that my fellow Americans is just plain ass WRONG.Kiss my ass if you don't agree.There's NO EXCUSE at all for any veteran to be homeless,hungry and alone,without proper mental and physical health care,without some means of employment.And they ARE out there,by the hundreds if not thousands.That has to stop.It BOTHERS me,and it pisses me off that more people aren't bothered by it.In fact,many are blissfully unaware.Enough of that,it's time we grow the fuck up about this.

To add to the hell of war,soldiers and Marines come home to a country that's barely aware there IS a war(though it seems we're coming around some,now that it's getting out more regularly how bad it is),let alone understand in the slightest what sacrifice is.We have way too many spoiled brats in this country who find even the smallest inconvenience to be worth having a fit over.Not to mention all the misinformation,political conniving,corruption and infighting.Coming home to this has to be a punch in the gut to some of our troops,I don't see how it wouldn't at least be somewhat insulting at times.

In the interest of being a Problem Solver,I'm tossing out two ideas,that might positvely impact some PTSD cases resulting from the current mess in mess o' potamia.I think they're worthy of consideration,but I have NO CLUE how to implement either one.So,Dear Reader,I leave the idea to you.If you have the connections who have the resources and smarts(which I do not have on stuff like this)for the love of God,please pass this on,I grant blanket permission.

Idea #1:
What if there was a way to match up homeless veterans with "foster families"? Obviously there needs to be a screening process on both sides,some sort of matchup system,and then perhaps transportation cost provided for a homeless vet that needs to get to where their foster family is if they happen to be far away.From there,the families provide food,clothing and shelter,along with helping in a job/schooling search and provide overall day to day support for a specified time(leave it to the concerned parties,but have a minimum commitment pre-set) to get the vet on their feet again.There may even be some parents who have lost a kid in Iraq or Afghanistan who would be willing to"adopt"a homeless vet in honor of their son or daughter who died.(though that is alot to ask,and a delicate thing.But still,for some matchups,that could be a blessing for both parties)

Of course this means making sure foster families are prepped in advance and ready to provide the structures that are needed.For example,if the employment prospects suck where you are,you might want to consider that before you volunteer.Or if you don't have the room in your home to accomodate another person so they have personal privacy,you shouldn't take this on.And so on and on.

Idea#2:
I love family farms.Anyone who knows me even a little knows that about me.My dream is to own about 80 acres(at least)with a clean water source,a house,and a few outbuildings.I'd grow veggies,flowers,herbs,raise organic beef and chicken(and eggs,maybe even milk eventually),and live my life a happy woman with her own tractor(vroom,puttputt,vroom).It's expensive though,to get started and to maintain a farm.It's also a lot of work,but the end results are satisfying.

Anyhow,if I could get my mitts on some farmland,with a home and outbuildings,I'd turn it into a full fledged running farm run and staffed by homeless vets who live and work on the farm,with people to show them the ropes.This would take a very kind and wealthy benefactor to see it through it's infancy,but eventually,with a sensible business plan and proper funding,the enterprise could become almost totally self sustaining,and partially self contained.

Working with the land and caring for animals can be quite theraputic to a wounded soul. Farms can be busy places,there's always something to do,but that lifestyle tends to be less chaotic.When people spend time working outdoors they tend to fall into a healthier life rhythm.Life has a purpose that's easier to see when you're working close to the land.That's not new agey nonsense,ask a multigenerational farming family,if you can find one these days.

Even a vet in a wheelchair or with a prosthetic limb can do stuff on a farm.There are many ways to accomodate a disabled person(raised beds for flowers and herbs and smaller veggie plants for example)to include them in a project such as this.There's plenty of work on a farm to go around.

Volunteer and/or paid professional mental health providers need to be worked into this plan somehow,maybe similar to a home care visiting nurse type deal along with any VA services that are available in a particular place.

So there you have it.

These ideas are not fleshed out to their full potential,hell for all I know programs like these exist already.I'm not an expert on much of anything,let alone taking on a task of such magnitude by myself.Bat the idea around on your own if you're so inclined,pass it around if you wish,or just tell me I'm a nut(or very naive).Whatever.I just think having a home and a way to take care of yourself out of isolation and with people who have been there/done that can go along way.Everyone needs a family,a sense of purpose,a soft place to land,even big tough military types,especially if they've been in combat.Just because I can't figure out how to do it doesn't mean I should keep it to myself.I'll let the winds carry it where they will.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Born on the Fourth of July

This blog is two years old on Tuesday and it's a damn shame we're still doing it. A damn shame we still find material (a lot of it) every day to vent about. By golly, if you would have told me, on the Fourth of July 2004, that Bush and his henchmen would still be in power, that the Congress would still be a rubber stamp for those same fascists, that we'd still be fighting a war in Iraq, I'd have said you're crazy. Two years ago, I figured at this point I'd have an occasional rant about the Dems making some bonehead move or another, but never still be trying to fight these crooked, inept, morally-bankrupt Republicans.

I thought 2004 would have been a year of awareness. Damn, we pushed for it. We were all young pups and all so damned sure we would get Bush out that November. Shakes and Jane Hamsher were just starting out back then, regular commenters here and then making us proud by reaching the heights they have. 42, Glen, Froggy (DBK), the CultureGhost, the Old White Lady, Travis, Pam, Cleek, John Howard, and my neighbor, Blondie; we were all finding our feet barely two years ago, a period of time that seems more like twenty. I met Rook, Patrick, and Eponymous then too, and Michael Hawkins through Pauly.

There were some bigs back then, Atrios and Kos, skippy, Orcinus, and of course the great South Knox Bubba (now blogging here under his real name) without whom I doubt the Brain would have existed. I met my good pal Gordon there, and yes I consider him a dear friend though we've never met face to face, my partner on two blogs for the better part of the last two years, and without whom this blog would never be where it is. I'd gladly share a foxhole, a ride, or a walk into Hell and back (or whatever else) with ya, man.

Speaking of blog partners, I'm honored to have the folks blogging here that I do. Nina and the Angry Old Broad have done so much to lend the female perspective to the rantings of a couple pissed off vets; Knox Rover (another SKB alumnus) and BaltimoreLenore as well during their brief tenures, and hopefully they'll take the floor again in the future, thank you all for your contributions.

And speaking of pissed off vets, I am honored to have met so many of them. Lurch, Jo Fish, Jeff Huber, CAFKIA, Farnsworth, The Chief, Chuck, Bob Geiger, Bulldog, all people who've served their country (serious patriots, folks) and chosen to stand up against the winds of war that have ravaged this nation for the last three years. We were all portrayed as traitors by the wingnuts until you people began to open your eyes. Let me tell ya, folks, these are people who know the true meaning of honor and 'supporting the troops' and I'm eternally grateful we're on the same team.

We've found some great new friends along the way too. Badtux, Elise, The Farmer, Lambert, His Highness, Granny, Christine, Sizemore, Creature, Michael Stickings, Scout Prime, Thersites, the Guerilla Women, RJ Eskow, Ed, the Chemist, Jay, John, Seth, and a whole host of others; folks from all walks of life dedcating their expertise toward our goal of freeing America, the country we all love so deeply, from the grip of a despot.

There are many who are no longer blogging, folks like M and T (and Harry Hound) from the Adgita Diaries whom we love so much (and I'm so grateful they continue to comment here) and Jeff from Jeffthinks, whom we hope would drop by and let us know he's okay. We miss you all.

And then there are the commenters, many bloggers themselves, who keep the discussion lively, informative, and give this place the sense of a small community. Thank you so much.

And the readers, many of whom inhabit the Halls of Power, thanks for stopping by and, hopefully, taking away a little of our perspective. Most of all, I just hope you think about what's going on out there realistically. Remember, we can rant and rave all we want, but it's all of you making your voices heard in November at the voting booths, and all the time by contacting your elected representatives and telling them how you feel, who will ultimately bring about change.

In all, it's been an amazing two years. I never thought anyone would listen to a mechanic from Long Island vent on the Internet, let alone 250 - 300 of you every day. Though I am a bit saddened there's a need, thanks to our 'traditional media' who have dropped the ball so badly, for what we do here, and in Left Blogtopia (y!sctp!*) in general, I can say it has been an outstanding experience. Thank you all for allowing me, and the staff here, to share in it.

My one hope is that at this time next year we will be talking about a Democratic Congress trying to straighten out the mess King George has made of this once-great nation.

*yes! skippy coined that phrase!