VETERANS CORNER: Those we used to depend on, now need our help

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

This has become a very difficult year for everyone but especially for our vets, as they age during these times of trouble and strife. Attitudes are going, without question, as our politicians are so divided it is scaring the heck out of everyone and pitting one group against another. Our southern border is being overrun and the homicide rate is the highest it has ever been. Some politicians are facing these obstacles head on while others are shying away from the fray.

Many very normal people are very, very fearful with domestic and world threat. I have aligned myself with veterans for many years, and I must say I haven’t seen this much PTSD in our vets than I do now. As we age those who use to be strong, energetic men and woman serving in our armed forces, protecting us all, have been reduced to today’s elderly with many in nursing homes viewing the USA with teary eyes. That which once was sweet, safe and home has become worrisome and coated with copious amounts of anxiety.

However, you don’t have to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or any other form of stress disorder to feel this way in today’s environment. In any case, the weak now among us are the ones we use to depend on for our safety and freedom. It’s always been understood that we would be there for them when the time came. What does it take for us to realize all the danger we are not only placing our beloved veterans in, but the children as well. We need to stop fighting over who did what or what history might say about us and look around. There are superior negative forces outside that are biding there time to pounce at our weakest moment.

As a humanitarian I travel all over the world and hear and see many things. Some of what is being said is not very nice. We are feeling too safe in our arrogance. In a visit to a local veterans nursing home, not too long ago, I saw some things that broke my heart. There were four of us together this day and as we walked around we saw one man laying on the floor saying, “help, help.” I cornered a C.N.A. and asked if she was going to assist this elderly veteran? Her reply was, “oh that’s John, he does this all the time just to get attention.” She approached him and looked down and said, “If you keep this up I will take you to your room!” (Punishment?) That didn’t set well with any of us. Then we passed a woman sitting in a chair crying. We were told she does that all the time. She just wants attention. Perhaps I am missing something but this didn’t seem right to me. My wife went over and touched her hand and asked if she was OK. She looked up and smiled and stopped crying. We visited with her for a while. She was fine when we continued on.

PTSD can come from many things but in all cases it is so very sad. We all need to be aware when someone is reaching out. Depression is not necessarily a part of aging although some of us have difficulty as the body becomes more and more limited. It can be very difficult for some who remember the day vividly. No one takes aging without some sort of a fight. In any case, depression, or PTSD, can begin at any age. We don’t necessarily come from the battlefield with it. It can start later in dreams, memories or from snapshots in time. This often occurs when an individual finds they have time on their hands and they have never been able to fill empty spaces. Examples: golf, music and other hobbies they acquired over time. It’s not uncommon to see an 85-year-old on the golf course. It’s even more wonderful if the wife/husband has the same longevity and does these things together. Others are not as lucky unless they have a support group which helps fill in the voids.

Advocating for a vet is a very rewarding thing to do. They have a need and you have something to contribute to their well being. When you deal with an open heart and do your due diligence to understand, you could be that vets redemption on this side of heaven. Every aging veteran with no significant other or support group are the ones at serious risk. It doesn’t take much at all to be an advocate. Veterans need a voice and companionship. It’s all a matter of attitude and the desire to fill your life by consuming the holes (voids) which lie with others. Also, it can leave you with a wonderful feeling.

The joy of giving ones time to another can become a life saving bond. I know it makes me feel great to aid another with something I possess. Some church groups are aware of this and do outreach. Often times the veteran doesn’t know how to ask for help. Being alone and feeling disenfranchised is a very lonely place to be. The Veterans Administration has access to many programs which can help heal and fulfill the veteran’s woes. It’s just a matter of the person in need arriving at the correct place at the correct time.

Yes, things are tough right now so that would make this a perfect time to lend a helping hand. The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255 if you find a veteran in distress. Don’t pass by. Remember, it is not what you take with you, it’s what you have left behind. God Bless and God Bless America!


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