One of the teachers at my school brought in a Iraq veteran to speak in his urban studies class yesterday and it was an utterly moving experience.
The gentleman was Latino and grew up in south central LA. He spoke of about joining the army as a way to cut costs going to school and what a mistake it had been.
He said the GI bill hasn't provided him with any money, but what it has provided for him is a shrapnel scar on the side of his stomach, a severe case of PTSD and a general feeling of dissatisfaction about the war. He also spoke of some serious racism and an instance in which he had to kill a Iraqi man and his 6 year old son.
I was so moved and proud that he was able to speak at our school and that so many of my students had a chance to hear from someone similar to them. He was a huge advocate against recruiting and against them joining the military. There are a few kids whose opinions were changed.
It brought up some serious feelings within me about the war and those involved. My first dealt with my anti-war activity:
I have, over the last few years, demonstrated some serious anti-war sentiment, in the form of demonstrations, art, poetry, teaching, and discussion.
It made me realize that I was valid in believing the things I do, but--I don't really know what it's like to be a part of this terrible war. I don't have any idea what it is like to fight for the US army or deal with PTSD, so who am I to argue against it?
I still feel like its important, but I don't want to alienate people like this man who spoke today, because I have no f---ing idea what they are going through. I am sick of this war and I truly believe that every person who comes back will have to deal with ptsd in some way shape or form. So we will once again see a nation that is not directly affected by war, but is populated by young men and women who are dealing with serious mental health issues. I also feel that by not doing anything, I am contributing to the problem, so i guess I am at a quandary. Please, Tell me what you think.
Its so frustrating and so real.