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Last Out & Honoring our Promise
Two positive steps towards healing hidden wounds
So TAT followers, today I will bring you a post that is a deviation from the usual. I would be very grateful if you would read it carefully, because it’s near and dear to me. I will do my best to stay focused on this highly emotional issue.
This weekend, I traveled to DC for a couple of reasons. First, to meet with some members of our Narrative Strategies team and work on a way forward for 2023. The second reason was to support a Narrative Strategies team member in his final DC performance of the play, Last Out , Elegy of a Green Beret, sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation. The lead and driving force behind this remarkable production, is a friend, colleague and Green Beret, Scott Mann.
As with Scott’s closing words after the performance, this production is for Veterans, their families but most importantly, for the American people who need to know the depth of emotion we experience after countless deployments to combat zones and the extraordinary burden of those at home who must learn to adapt to them. I have often said that those on the homefront bear the hardest burdens and nearly as often, the deepest scars. Scott, cast and crew, along with the directing genius of Carl Bury, bring this into focus, powerfully.
Here’s an admission I don’t often talk about, especially publicly, I’m one of those who suffers from PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). For most Veterans, the stigma of reaching out for help is often, a “bridge too far.” While in uniform, we see reaching out, as career ending. So, we stay silent and the cancer grows. In in my case, like so many others it raises its ugly head later, recurrently and just when we should be enjoying life. My wife, a saint, saved me from self-destructing… more than once. Scott’s leadership and willingness to “lead from the front,” inspired me to reenter the therapy I needed. It gave me the opportunity to once again, be the husband Mrs. C deserved. I say opportunity because I am not sure that we are ever quite free of this insidiously devastating issue. There is still work ahead but knowing that there are folks like Scott, his cast and crew and the Gary Sinise Foundation out there leading us down a better path, is life-changing. Leading and speaking out publicly is who Scott is. He is leading by example.
I am offering this insight into my story, because those of us who have sought help, have a duty to our military brothers, sisters and families to demonstrate that it’s okay and necessary to seek help. Today’s post is not about me, it’s about healing a nation’s warriors and those that love and support them. If we send our warriors to war, they go for all of us. When we take an oath, we must honor it.
One of those oaths was that the US support our Afghan brothers and sisters that served alongside us ”in-country.” Countless still remain at risk from a vicious horde of 9th century, extremists that claim to run the country. In other words, the Taliban. This statement is NOT political. It’s a simple statement of fact. It wasn’t the new administration, it’s all of the administrations plus the new one that failed. This includes politicians, Cabinet appointees, military leaders and the high-priced western experts that doomed us from the beginning. Everywhere in the world doesn’t operate the way we do in the west. Without an understanding of the people in combat zones, there’s no way to win a war with an insurgency.
The men and women that risked all to support our efforts, deserve better. They deserve the SIV, Special Immigrant Visa that they were promised. They deserve this for their families too. They deserve to be treated like the heros they are. They suffer from PTSD and far worse for themselves and their families. There will always be extremists as there will always be evil. Part of the healing of US Veterans and their families is to know that those who served alongside us are not excluded. We must, honor our promises to all who were in harm's way, in service to our nation, at home and abroad.
Doing right is keeping our word to those who bore the fight and those who bore the burdens of that fight, on the home-front. We must also include those who Afghans who fought and bled, shoulder to shoulder with us.I would like to propose an avenue for honoring all who are deserving. Instead of “thank you for your service” please write your congressmen/ women and demand that they do right, by all who are deserving, US and otherwise.
The year after I received my draft card, towards the end of the Vietnam war, the US dropped the draft and went to an all-volunteer military force. Military service since is more often than not, a family tradition. It is in my family to be sure. If the pool of military service-members remains stagnant, it’s the duty of citizens who don’t serve to ensure that the nation’s values remain intact. This includes, honoring our promise to combatants and families, US and otherwise.
I’ll add here at the end, that Scott and a remarkable group of Veterans took a great risk to save as many of our Afghan partners as possible during our withdrawal. You may recall, “Operation Pineapple Express.” This is ongoing and needs everyone’s support. Please, let’s all support Last Out and Operation Pineapple Express. It’s the least we can do and it will be an opportunity for Congress to stop behaving like partisans and do something honorable together. Doing right by all is one of the steps in healing hidden wounds for everyone, military related or not. I recall painfully how long it took for Vietnam vets to be honored and acknowledged. Many passed without ever knowing and many still are due their well-deserved honor. Let’s not permit this travesty of honor to occur again.
Finally, as I close this out, beginning next week in Chicago, Last Out begins touring their production. Please keep an eye on their website for dates and times. If you’re in a city that is not on the list, please advocate for your local leaders to include performances so that more can experience this production. It’s not only a step towards healing those hidden wounds but uniting the nation over something that accentuates our values, not walks all over them. War cannot be just for a few. We must all bear part of the nation’s obligations, in one way or another. That’s why the name of our nation is, The UNITED States.
P. S. Bring tissues or a handkerchief to the performance. You will need them. I know that I did.