Monday, November 11 2013 @ 10:06 AM PST
Contributed by: WatchCat
There's a "Veteran Transformation" video that's gone viral. In it, a veteran who has had years of homelessness and substance abuse gets a haircut, hair color, shave, new clothes etc. It's great to see the transformation. (Watch his expressions as the process goes on...the look on his face when he's getting the hair color is classic.)
A lot of people said, "it's impossible to watch this without crying." Well, I did. Maybe it was the day, or maybe just the expectation. Or maybe...
My time working at the VA hospital taught me a lot about who veterans are. Each conflict put its unique stamp on the men and women involved, from the nature of the fight all the way to the nature of the homecoming. "Invisible wounds" show in the hair, the beards, the demeanor.
I applaud what the organization that sponsored the makeover was trying to achieve. They did a good bit of healing there for that man.
But if society needs to give makeovers in order to see the hero, we don't really understand our veterans. We don't identify with them enough.
Yes, some of them look like my brother, who can wash his hair with a bar of soap.
Some look like my friend who looks like he belongs in GQ.
Or my sort-of-uncle former PJ who now looks more like Santa.
Or my grandfather, frail in the nursing home.
Or my other grandfather, aging but wiry and active.
Or the guy in the shelter with festering sores and sad eyes.
Or the man in the video.
Or the girl in the Master's program with curly brown hair and a victory over addiction.
Or my petite friend who has two kids.
I want to thank all of them, not just for their service, but because they continue to enrich my life. Some bear terrible wounds, some came out stronger than they went in, and many are somewhere in the middle. There's no archetype of the veteran. But if we pay attention, we'll likely find them in unexpected places.
THANK YOU to all who have served.
(And if you're not a veteran, find one and pay for their coffee or meal or whatever. Giving back a little is the best feeling in the world.)