The Need to Hold On
[Re: Newscity, “Set in Granite,” Sept. 4-10] The City Council's plan to construct a war memorial to honor those New Mexicans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan is worth consideration.
I agree with Councilors Don Harris and Sally Mayer that politics should be left out, and I agree that veterans deserve every bit of honor we can muster.
As a veteran, we see it as political when you add the “why” of a thing. For many of us, the why is unimportant; the only important issue for us is from the ground—it's you and the one next to you coming back with as may body parts as you left home with.
The “why” might help one from the outside understand, but from our (veterans') point of view, it's all too clear. So if you do this memorial, I must say to add the “why” of it is more for you than for me. As mentioned above, it affects me not, and if it's for me, then any shared mention other than your thoughts for us takes away from us who serve and is not about veterans. If it's for some other purpose, then leave us out. Don't make another false claim to us or for me at the expense of veterans again. ... Haven't we been used enough already? And for those who gave their last measure of service, they deserve better, don't you think?
“When I'm having a hard time going on, it's the thought that I would be doing our lost veterans a disservice if I did not do all I could to live ... ”
I also agree with Mr. Powell (Veterans for Peace) and Mr. Anderson (Stop the War Machine) when they offer that we might also, in our honoring of veterans, respond a little to the needs of the living who sacrifice for country and service. For many veterans, the sacrifice is an ongoing process, short in the making of it and long in the enduring of it.
As a strategy in honoring veterans, veterans who have served ask if we might offer a suggestion: When we served, we gave more attention to those still living so that we might better serve each other, and for those gone we acted with respect to that loss. We thought it best to remember those who were lost to slow or stop as many other losses as we could. We thought it a worthwhile endeavor. For me, when I'm having a hard time going on, it's the thought that I would be doing our lost veterans a disservice if I did not do all I could to live, because if the shoe was on the other foot, that is what would be expected of them. But many times, help is needed.
In Albuquerque, we believe there to be in excess of 5,000 people experiencing homelessness; about one-third we think are veterans, many more in and around are unaccounted for. New veterans enter homelessness in every return of our Iraq, Afghanistan veterans.
$300,000 would go a long way in providing housing, offsite clinics, mental health care options, job training, education opportunities and support of a GI rights hotline.
For those who say the VA already provides these services, remember there is not enough to go around; reinforcements are needed on all fronts in access to care.
As you think of what to put on memorials of honor, remember, for many veterans the sacrifice continues. The “why” for many veterans is not as important as the need to hold on.