One war souvenir with blue eyes…

The guy sitting in the underground path to the Manulife Center, just after our lovely lunch, had obviously been in a horrifying accident – perhaps something like an  “IED”* in Afghanistan, I imagined; or a car accident that involved a fire.

Entirely covered in burn scars, he was missing much in the way of body parts including nose and fingertips, but you could see his beautiful blue eyes.   He was actually wearing what looked like army fatigues, but I didn’t have the heart to ask.

I guess he in turn didn’t have the heart to speak forcefully to the people passing by  – though it was painfully obvious why he was there anyway.  One by one, they walked by, looking straight ahead.   I stopped long enough to awkwardly search in my pockets, found a few toonies** and gave them to him.  I guess he knows about his gorgeous eyes, because he opened them wide and looked up at me.  “How’re you doing today?” he asked.  I said “Not bad for an old lady” (my tiresome stupid joke), “how are you?”  He said he had a cold, and paid me a compliment.  I smiled and walked on.

But  a feeling of heartbreak welled up, along with my usual sense of injustice, anger at the people who just walked by (do they think he’s getting rich?), analytical thoughts along the lines of, “There oughta be….” and “How can they….?”  I feel I owe him so much more than a few loonies and a story.  And then my inner voice shoots back, “It’s not about you!”

And it’s not about not walking on by.   It’s more about not accepting how we create ‘young sacrifices’ like him, and then let them fend for themselves.  Is that any way to thank a nice young man?

He might have been in his thirties.

This entry was posted in accountability, anti-war, compassion, consequences, injustice, war and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to One war souvenir with blue eyes…

  1. War breaks people. But then there are also a few people willing to help those broken people rebuild a life. That doesn’t mean a return to the way it was but a way to cope one day at a time.

    • Yes, one day at a time of course, and ‘staying in the here and now’, etc. But I’ll bet he’s the one who has to take care of his own coping/emotional/psychological needs; as a society I believe we owe our fellow humans more than that. It takes a pretty smart insightful person to be able to (figuratively) heal his own wounds. You’d likely know something about that I imagine…

      • The VA in the US does offer counseling support for veterans with PTSD. In the VA counseling center where I go for my medical care there are also flyers with info for private, non-profit veteran groups that offer support too. In fact, the VA told me that the private sector, group based support is considered better because every veteran in that group has PTSD and they supported each other to learn how to cope.

        And once it is determined that the PTSD is related to military service, the counseling is free and so is the private non-profit group counseling.

        The problem is that some vets—for whatever reason—will not take advantage of this free help where one may learn to cope with living with PTSD.

        Scientific studied using state of the art brain scans have proved that PTSD is permanent. It doesn’t heal and go away. And the longer PTSD is allowed to go without learning coping skills, the more damage it causes to the brain making the person suffering from the PTSD worse and more dangerous to others in addition to himself.

        But we are a free country. No one can force a vet to seek this help. That is the biggest problem.

      • Is it possible the form their PTSD has taken makes it difficult or impossible for them to seek the help…. I wonder if they’ve been asked. Maybe some are in no condition to ask for much at all…

  2. mixedupmeme says:

    I just watched a program that was telling the problems of getting help for veterans. It takes a year or more to process papers etc. And by that time it is too late. Unbelievable. 😦

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