Friday, November 8, 2013

in honor of veterans day...

Deep thoughts on this Veterans Day:

I read this as follows: The patriotic posts and free cups of coffee and red, white and blue pancakes at IHOP are all well and good, and surely appreciated, but what are you going to do for these veterans tomorrow, and the next day, and this winter when they're sleeping on a park bench in the freezing cold, and next year, after they've waited 6 months for a doctor's appointment only to find out it's too late?

HUD estimates that there are approximately 50,000 homeless veterans on any given night (which is actually a 33% decrease since 2010).

Veterans have poor access to health care, both mental and physical. Veterans are dying while waiting for obscene amounts of time to see their doctors. Veterans are committing suicide at staggering rates every single day.

So, tomorrow, when the Rah Rah, Amer'ca - Fuck Yeah memes are no longer apropos, let's ask what we can do next. Here's a list of "7 Charities That Actually Help Veterans Beyond Veteran's Day."

And today? Watch this video (again).

To the haters - no, a haircut and a suit aren't going to solve all of the problems. Not even close. But to echo the sage sentiments of Macklemore & Lewis, it's a damn good place to start. When I was in college there was a woman who came down to the boardwalk in Mission Bay once a month and gave free haircuts to homeless people. I loved to sit and talk, waiting for that moment when she held up a mirror so they could see the end result. they would just light up from the inside. Say what you will about addressing the "real" problems, but a haircut and some clean new duds can really change your outlook - both how you feel about yourself, and how you are perceived by others, which, like it or not, informs each and every one of our identities, at least in part.

On a lighter note, I will share a couple of stories from my favorite veterans -

One of my grandpas was in the army. He was wounded in combat and they had to amputate his leg just below the knee. He wrote home to tell his family of the injury, saying "I was shot in the chin and they had to amputate." Everyone froke out imagining that grandpa was going to come home with only half his face, so they were thrilled to learn that it was just an unfortunate spelling error, and he would be coming home one shin short, but with his handsome face fully intact :)

Another grandpa was in the navy. They once went to Saudi Arabia, and the officers shared a meal with some diplomats - a sheikh and his men. as a gesture of goodwill, the sheikh gave the admiral several gifts, including a traditional middle eastern headdress and robe. They later brought the group on board to check out the flight operations on the aircraft carrier. The admiral told his assistant to keep an eye on the sheikh, and make sure he got off after the tour. Once the sheikh was safely back on land and the ship had set out, the admiral's assistant had one of the cooks dress up in the gifted middle eastern garb and sent him out wandering around on the deck. The joke worked and the commander of the ship totally lost his mind thinking they'd basically kidnapped a Saudi sheikh.

My third grandpa was a super secret spy so I'm sure we don't know the best stories, but my brother reminded me of a couple today:

Once, step-gramps used pregnant step-grams for his "cover" as happy husband and wife. They had to go into a bar (she was 8 months pregnant!) and take pictures of an enemy target having a meeting. He had a very small camera, but it made an audible click every time he took a picture. I'm happy to report they got out undetected! But if you knew these characters, this mental image would have you in stitches.

Another time, step-gramps and his colleagues were being taught French, but they sucked at it, so they would make up phrases like "faire car marmalade," which translated to "traffic marmalade" in French, but "traffic jam" to the hilarious American spies :)


That's all I got.


I made a donation to help veterans in need this Veteran's Day.
You can too. Click here.

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