Recently we went on a family military trip, the organization sponsoring it gathered families who had served and were now veterans, all hurt in some capacity during their service, and gave them some respite time in the great outdoors.
It. Was. Lovely.
And the biggest reason it was lovely was this: we were in our veteran community.
We don’t have that in Austin, there’s like 3 people. When it comes to the daily, daily stuff, like school and the neighborhood, it is completely non-existent. And we feel that. It is no more obvious than it was the weekend we spent there with each other, and when we drove back home I cried, deeply. The unspoken understanding we had there was gold, the easiness of interaction, the expectations, the camaraderie,…so comforting. Quickly we were ripped out of the indulgence of it all while our daughter had a medical emergency, we scrapped basking in the glow to survive the next crisis, once again. Today I had the opportunity to revisit the trip due to a phone interview the organization arranged to gauge how the experience was for us. I quickly remembered how comfortable we were there. Now that the interview is over, I realize how important that was, especially for my husband.
There, he was able to see his accomplishments. They were very obvious. All the work he does do, on himself and for his family, shined. The second we got back into our town, somehow that went away. It has everything to do with his in-laws past treatment of him as we realized what was going on with PTSD and TBI, the shaming people do, the way our neighborhood responded to our situation, the lack of veterans in the area to identify with, his entire family being far away and completely oblivious to anything going, his family not knowing how to respond once they did learn of his health and ignoring him, the lack of services for him in 2004 when he got out, people's inability to understand and be helpful in business transactions, the VA refusing his claim the first time and hardly giving him what he needs now, the sparse availability of advocacy for veterans in our area, etc etc. It just is not a “military friendly” place to be. I have managed to find a supportive community, though not military related, that I adore and feel comfort in. But, he is not experiencing the same type of comfort because he wants people who understand war. He feels supported by it to a point, but regular men don't understand the combat experience he craves them to. He must feel so very lonely, I realize, as I put this in text. I can see the difference in him when he is around veterans and when he is not. He needs it. He needs it to be easy to find and immerse into. We need it, the kids need it. We did not come from nothing, we all served, we were all affected, people need to truly understand that.