Three C’s help veterans reacclimate
Three C’s can guide Americans to better treatment of the nation’s veterans, says a West Point graduate and the maker of a film, “Veteran Nation,” which explores the experiences of veterans returning home.
Every successful society, said James Carafano of the conservative Washington, D.C.-based think-tank The Heritage Foundation, has found ways to welcome its warriors back into daily life, but there is no single way of acknowledging and accepting them back.
“There is no rule book. There is no right way to do it. This is our responsibility to figure out this stuff,” Carafano said Friday before a screening of the movie.
Still, there are some consistent themes. Carafano distilled them into three major components: contact, comradeship and community.
Contacting veterans who have returned home, it turns out, is the most difficult.
Many of the 22 million veterans, for instance, are members of the National Guard, and they frequently disperse to their homes and families rather than remain in a central location, such as an Army base.
They don’t fit any particular mold, either, he said. The largest group of homeless veterans, for example, is women with children, Carafano said,
The wide dispersion of veterans makes the second “C” — comradeship — more difficult, he said. Getting veterans together allows them to share experiences in what might seem like bull sessions and aimless talk, but which actually form the basis for group therapy, Carafano said.
Finding and bringing together veterans are important steps, he said, but not ones that can be done with ease.
“It’s not a question of giving more money” to the Department of Veterans Affairs, he said.
Communities of one sort or another have to form around the needs of veterans. One is Bozeman, Mont., home to Warriors and Quiet Waters, a program in which wounded veterans are taught to fly fish.
The website for “Veteran Nation,” servingourvets.org, supplies the film and suggestions about ways to be of service to veterans.
A 25-year military veteran, Carafano said he frequently brushed off people who would approach him while he was in uniform with thanks for his service and that he now regrets doing so.
That’s because he has grown to recognize that the recognition benefits the giver, perhaps more than the recipient, he said.
Still, recognition must be paid to those who serve, he said, because, “Every generation of veterans is the greatest generation.”