Other Voices: Support troops with actions, not words
In times of war, combat troops needing to regroup and recover were moved to a place of relative safety. Current- ly, the term “Stand Down” refers to a grassroots local event organized to provide support to veterans at home. This is not a Veterans Administration event – it’s our chance, as John Q. Public, to give back for all that these guys have sacrificed so we can live in peace here at home.
I just got done working at the Yuba-Sutter Stand Down and was left speechless at the tragedy of veterans who have lost pieces of themselves in service to their country, only to return home and live on the streets.
There was George, a Korean War vet, small in stature, wiry, but with a glint of humor in his eye. Ask him how he’s doing and he doesn’t mention being homeless, he just tells you that he’s been here for 26 years … what concerned me most was that it didn’t occur to him to get out of the direct sunlight or to drink enough water. This man does not belong on the street. He is as likely to die of heat prostration as anything else.
Another vet was a Vietnam War era. He said he was camped out over the hill. He wanted to know if, with my expertise in muscular function, I could say if the neuropathy (nerve damage) in his legs might have been caused by being pushed beyond his limits 30 years ago. There’s no question that may be the cause, but proving it? Not likely. These words were hard to speak out loud. He would like to spearhead a movement to change how boot camp training is done. Boot camp trains for absolute obedience. This is fine if the governing body takes absolute responsibility for the outcome. But vets returning from active duty are required to be responsible for themselves. We need to help them make this transition.
The Nevada County Stand Down is slated for Oct. 3, 4 and 5 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Businesses interested in supporting our troops in the re-entry process can set up vendor booths at the event. Individuals that want to help can volunteer their time, or can donate food, clothing or services in the form of gift certif- icates.
What is especially needed, in my view, as a health care professional, is help changing the focus from survival in emergency circumstances to learning about health and how to cultivate it. I would reach out to the organic farmers in our community for donations, so that we are not feeding these people canned fruit, but rather, that we honor them with the very best produce the county has to offer. This, to me, would support our troops in a more literal way than just putting a sticker on the back of a car. They read our level of support by our actions, not by our words.
For more information on making the Nevada County Stand Down an event that honors our troops with physical support, not just symbolism, contact the Nevada County Veterans Services Office at 273-3396.
Gabrielle Pullen, FELDENKRAIS Practitioner, Instructor iRest P.T.S.D.
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