• Christine Mann

the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery wreath laying

This morning, I was up in Killeen at the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery for their annual wreath laying ceremony. It reminded me of a conversation I had recently.

I haven’t talked about this very much, but my father and my grandfather were both veterans. Despite that, I never really grew up in a “military family”. We never talked about it, didn’t attend veterans events, and they didn’t wear military or veteran insignia. I’ve wondered why we never participated in the way that many military families do.

I think it’s because of my uncle, who also served. He was a medic in Vietnam, responsible for trying to save the lives and limbs of his fellow service members when they were wounded in combat. He never spoke about his experience, and it was understood in our family that we should not ask about it. The trauma of the experience was too much, and we knew not to ask. My uncle was a kind and gentle soul who returned to the US and became a physician, but his experiences in wartime never left him.

That understanding in my family informs my thoughts on military policy. Our current representative brags about supporting the troops, but that equates to only one thing: money that fuels our weapons industry and the CEOs who manufacture those systems.

He never talks about the support systems that are so lacking in military communities: the shameful condition of the barracks and housing on post, the lack of solutions for veteran homelessness and suicide, adequate care for physical and psychological trauma related to service, and support systems for the families of our service members.

I am working on creating a more holistic view of what supporting the troops means. I’m in contact with a non-profit that focuses on family support systems and I will support initiatives such as No Veteran Homeless or Hungry.

We can do so much better for those who serve our country and put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf.


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