This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.” These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl. Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.
Every few months, I accompany my husband to the Veterans’ Administration Eye Clinic in Little Rock. As a middle-aged couple, we certainly did not expect the catalog of health issues that have besieged my husband. Sitting in a waiting room which is always overcrowded with mostly veterans of the Vietnam War, I see a generation of men with eyepatches, diabetic retinopathy, and varying degrees of blindness all compounded by walkers, wheelchairs or canes. I am overcome by the similarities among these men.
These were our young men, fighting a war for which there is still no reason for people who showed no appreciation. Our soldiers weren’t treated properly when they returned home and they are not treated properly now.
We wait for hours for assembly line care provided by overworked and overscheduled professionals. And then, we drive home for 3 hours because the Veterans Administration 20 miles from us does not provide this particular service.
I often see social media comments on how much we appreciate our vets. I must say it is relatively easy to tell a vet how grateful we are—even easier to offer a discount on food or a hotel room. What is not easy is to look squarely at the residual damage of war. These are not our handsome young males anymore. They are scarred and battered on our behalf. To say they served their country seems to fall short based on the size of the sacrifice. The men in that waiting room yesterday are still sacrificing –they’ve already given much.
I think of an entire new generation of men and women in the Iraqi war and the Afghanistan war who will come home with afflictions unique and unidentified and wonder when we will learn to find solutions to disagreement that don’t require killing one another.
Every few months, as I sit in that waiting room, I have an opportunity to think about new ways we can make a difference for these men. There is so much to be done, but as always, if we each just try to touch those we meet, we can change this world one deed at a time. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for VA waiting rooms and the wonderful men who inhabit them.
Following is a poem I wrote several years ago as a memorial to our veterans. It is engraved on a monument in Veterans’ Park, Rogers, AR:
The grasses here once ruffled
Underfoot of some young man
Who loved the rich, green fertile fields
Which stretch across this land.
He loved the freedom he possessed
And knew it was his own.
For, in the Light of Liberty,
He called our country home.
There came a day when he was asked
To heed our nation’s call.
Unswerving in his loyalty,
He answered with his all.
Thousands more were just like him—
They’ve served our country well,
Men and women, side by side,
Marching into Hell.
They’ve guarded our most precious gifts
And kept us safe through time
And sacrificed so much of life
To make our freedom shine.
The words we carved here aren’t enough
To say how much we feel
For all the veterans who’ve served us
And walked our rich, green fields.
© Carlene Welch, 2012
Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.