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Their Wounds May Not be Visible — Veterans Day 2019

Veteran’s day is a time to remember and say thank you. Current and former members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have given in some cases literally everything to protect our country and our freedoms. These heroes ask very little. A simple acknowledgement will usually suffice.

It’s appropriate that the November issue of Parking Today (In the mail) should be edited and written by veterans who are also members of the parking industry. We are honored that they took the time and interest to share their experiences with us.

I was surprised to find, buried in his bio, that my friend Bob Harkins was a two time silver star winner and also received two purple hearts during his nearly three decades of service in the US Army. Bob has always been reserved when discussing his awards in the military, so I felt it time to bring his candle out from under the basket. The cover photo of Bob taken a couple of decades ago reminds us that in truth, the military is for the young.

In wartime, entire generations of young men and women go to fight. And many don’t return. Those who do often wish they could keep some memories and erase others. PTSD is not new. From Wikipedia:

Comedian George Carlin criticized the euphemism treadmill which led to progressive change of the way PTSD was referred to over the course of the 20th century, from “shell shock” in the First World War to the “battle fatigue” in the Second World War, to “operational exhaustion” in the Korean War, to the current “post-traumatic stress disorder”, coined during the Vietnam War, which “added a hyphen” and which, he commented, “completely burie[s] [the pain] under jargon“. He also stated that the name given to the condition has had a direct effect on the way veteran soldiers with PTSD were treated and perceived by civilian populations over time.

Writers throughout the ages have noted how those who go into battle return “changed.” It is impossible not to be affected by seeing people you loved destroyed before your eyes. The military builds lasting friendships quickly, battle can destroy them just as fast.

On Veteran’s day we must think about the missing members of families as well as the missing limbs. Modern medicine has saved many lives that would otherwise have been lost in battle, but the result often makes for a long road of recovery.

When we think of the world wars, Korea or Vietnam, we think of the draft. Today’s veterans are volunteers. They go of their own free will. Remember that when you thank them for their service. And remember too, their wounds may not be visible.

JVH

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