Had the note below from an old Army buddy today:
“If you view HBO’s ‘Wartorn’ anytime in the next few weeks and would like to help the more than 700 thousand new veterans suffering from PTSD, may I suggest a contribution to Soldier’s Heart. I also know a gift at Christmas in the name of a loved one would be greatly appreciated as well.
“The Soldier’s Heart statement:
” ‘Soldier’s Heart addresses the emotional, spiritual and moral needs of veterans, their families and communities using a unique and comprehensive model of healing. Our goal is to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD by developing a new and honorable warrior identity. We also promote, train and guide community-based efforts to heal the effects of war.’
“Soldier’s Heart, 500 Federal St., Suite 303, Troy, NY 12180, 518-274-0501 Ext 10
“I have worked with this amazing organization for several years now and can tell you their programs are successful. Please help them continue their efforts. Ask your friends and family to help.
“If you want more information, please go to their website at: http://www.soldiersheart.net.
“It takes more than words, a button or a bumper sticker to Support the Troops. Thanks for considering support for this well-deserved organization.”
My buddy ended his note with this quote: “Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation. If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war. And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.” —Thich Nhat Han
My buddy’s name is Hugh S. He doesn’t want his last name used. We served together in a helicopter gunship platoon in Vietnam in 1967-68. Hugh was wounded twice the year he flew with me. Then he went back for a second tour. He has never been able to remember the last nine months of his second 12-month tour. That’s PTSD.
Hugh has dedicated his life to helping other veterans with PTSD, which doesn’t surprise me. Hugh’s nickname in Vietnam was Sugarbear because of his size and sweet nature. He’s 6’3” and as a kid in Vietnam he weighed 230 pounds. As an adult, he’s one of those guys who has had to work at keeping his weight below 300. The thing is, Sugarbear’s heart has always weighed about ten times more than that.
Hugh has another animal nickname—matocante, which is Sioux Indian. It means Bear Heart. A couple of Sioux kids from South Dakota nicknamed him that after he persuaded them to sober up and helped put them through college.
Anyway, because the U.S. government is failing so utterly at helping its combat veterans deal with the trauma of their experience, Hugh is concerned that a perfect storm of PTSD now threatens America. Sugarbear isn’t about to stand by and let that happen. Matocante thinks 700 thousand traumatized veterans could make a pretty bright candle. What do you think?
Here’s a poem Sugarbear wrote that he recently read to some 500 attendees of the International Peace and War Summit at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Message from the Dead
I marched in straight lines…wore uniforms fine.
I died for this country’s cause.
Years later I see…that it just wasn’t me
who knew there were policy flaws.
When you’re dead…there’s a dread
that the lesson is lost… on those who never did fight.
And as I lie in the ground…with my pals all around
I realize that I’m probably right.
Politicians take a stand over some foreign land…hell, there will
always be young ones to fight it.
But bring those souls here…..let them come near.
We’ll tell the truth…we won’t hide it.