Veterans Day and Suicide etc.

Today, 20 military veterans will commit suicide.  I heard that on NPR’s Morning Edition.  Our country’s treatment of, or failure to care for, veterans is a long-standing shame.

I’m a veteran though I don’t think of myself that way.  I was in the army for 21 months in the late 1950’s when there seemed to be no war, though the U.S. was active in Viet Nam and dropped paratroops on Lebanon when an election didn’t go our way. My weapon was a typewriter and my battlefield was  the compound of the Corporal Missile (training) Battery in Oklahoma. I drew the veteran benefit for courses I took when I got out.

Who’s a real veteran?  My nephew Jeffrey Nugent who served in Iraq and our new Senator Tammy Duckworth who lost her legs there. My brother John who graduated from the Naval Academy and transferred to the Marines.  And my friend Larry who served in Viet Nam.   And a lot of those people sleeping in a park or on the warm grates of city sidewalks, asking for change on street corners, talking to themselves in public libraries.  Or sitting in jail cells with no hope.

What’s being done for all those suffering as a result of military service? Not enough..

Mental Health Concerns
  • Postraumtic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Traumatic events, such as military combat, assault, disasters or sexual assault can have long-lasting negative effects such as trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, being jumpy and alcohol and drug abuse. …
  • Depression. …
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

RJN

 

 

 

 

Kindness of Strangers

Image result for quotation kindness of strangers

Recerntly at O”Hare airport,  a young man helped me climb several steps into the van going to the parking lot and 10 minutes later helped me off.  I’m glad I had a chance to tell him that, since I’ve had trouble walking, I’ve become surer of how good people are.

Carrying my cane, I’ve had people give me their seats on the EL  (finally realized it was wrong to refuse ), stand back so I could enter an elevator, and other such courtesies.  I’ve dropped my cane several times, and someone was there immediately to pick it up for me.

A few months ago, we were at a small reception at the Adler Planetarium when I stumbled and fell.  Two men were on me immediately, one looking strangely into my eyes.  He must have felt my discomfort with that, said  “I’m a physician.”  I found I was in the middle of a semi-circle of about 30 people–first entertainment of the evening.

The guys helped me get into a chair, then made sure I got into the lecture room safely.

I think it is  wonderful that people want to help, but a helper must do only what the needful person wants.  Injured or handicapped people still need their autonomy.  

There’s a story about a young man who walked toward a busy intersecton and saw a frail old woman standing at the curb.  He swooped her up and carried her across the street, evading a bus.  On the other side, he put her down and said, ” Is there anything else I can do for you?”  She said, “Yes, take me back to the place where I was waiting for the bus”.

Disabled people expect reasonable consideration.  I worked briefly at a food store when I was in high school.  One day I saw a one-legged man start through the front door on crutches. A woman in a hurry pushed past him, jostling him aside.  Some minutes later, as she was bending over the potato bin,  the man struck her   butt with a crutch.  She neither exclaimed nor complained.

I enjoy remembering a scene from a movie  in which an old man carrying a bag of popcorn across a street toward a park is frightened by a young man in a convertible who honks at him and nearly runs him over.  The old man turns onto a sidewalk, sharing his popcorn with a flock of pigeons.  The young man parks farther down the street.  When the old man reaches the convertible, he dumps his popcorn in the front and back seats of the car.  I hope everyone knows what the young man will find when he returns.

 

 

Horseback Riding Therapy

Susan volunteers at Partners for Progress which provides riding therapy for special needs kids, guided by physical and occupational therapists. Besides assisting on rides, she grooms and and exercises horses.  Now she has resumed riding herself. This picture is from a show in which clients performed.      RJN                 pfp show

Shannon is the rider,  She has no use of her legs and some other challenges, but she won first place in this class.  Sara, a volunteer is leading.  Dustin is staff at PFP, the director’s son.  I am the other side walker.  They loaned me a PFP show shirt, however was a man’s XXL, I have miles of it tucked in my jeans.  Ty is a horse new to the barn on loan.   Susan