Attendance at the Highway of Heroes is dwindling. The public is tired of a war it doesn’t support. It’s tired of bringing home sons and daughters in hearses for what the public perceives as a lost cause. This has nothing to do with the soldier being honoured. Each person on each bridge remembered him. Some prayed.
When I awoke this morning, I realized I had a chance to take this tribute to another level and make it an opportunity to introduce our veterans’ issues to the public. I ran off 1,000 flyers — the information distributed is now posted on a special page set up for public access on Homecoming Vets.
On Bowmanville‘s Waverley bridge, Cabinet Minister Bev Oda and I came face-to-face. She was handing out Maple Leaf flags to wave as the procession passed beneath. I had emailed the same questions to her a 1 a.m. in the morning, but she now had the flyer in hand as well. Someone asked me what it was about so I spoke to the people gathered on the bridges and explained that this flyer was not a political handout. (If it had been, few would have agreed to take it.) Even the police supervisor allowed his officers to accept the handout to read later. I called it a BACKGROUNDER meant to educate the public on veterans’ issues. That they needed to think about what happens to those who come home apart from the fallen soldiers we salute on the Highway of Heroes.
Many on the bridges — I spoke to three crossing Newcastle, Wilmot Creek and Bowmanville — admitted they too had wondered what happens to the living as they have saluted the fallen and welcomed my handout. There is big gap in the public’s education, and I can only reach my own area. Many shop and restaurant keepers in Newcastle have agreed to display my BACKGROUNDER with the following graphic posted above the display to attract their customers’ attention.
Tomorrow I am going to our Bowmanville shops and restaurants to set up similar displays with the handouts. I’ve also sent the same BACKGROUNDER to three local newspapers as well as emailed each political candidate. As I’ve already commented on Facebook, the first to respond was the NDP candidate, Tammy Schoep, who explained that she was going to have to research her answers because she didn’t understand some of the terms. Here is her message:
I have read your message and your questions. I have to be honest that I do not know what half of the terms mean and in order to answer the questions fully I will need time to research it. I do know that the definition of a “Veteran” …at the end of your message brought tears to my eyes. I wear a red shirt on Fridays to support our troops, and I honestly feel that the support for our troops and their families that is needed most is when the they come home, no matter how they come home. I feel that if the Government is prepared to send our Troops anywhere on any mission then they better be prepared to treat them and their families with the utmost respect and dignity when they return home.
Thank you so much for your message I will get back to you as soon as I can.
When I was handing out the BACKGROUNDER I also explained that I do not represent a specific organization with an agenda but have set up the Homecoming Vets blog as a “safe place” for vets to air their concerns. From the beginning my mission has been to make the public aware of what our vets are dealing with, how they have (in my mind) been betrayed by the very country they have been serving. So far I have gathered some helpful resources listed in the blogroll for vets and their families to access services that might help their needs. I will continue to do this as I become aware of such programs or associations.
When the election is over, some vets and I intend to set up a confidential chat forum on Homecoming Vets for those suffering from PTSD. In the States, vets have found that sharing their experiences with other “wounded warriors” has helped them heal.
Research now proves that those who suffer from PTSD no longer have to feel that they are somehow mentally weaker than those who have escaped this terrible punishment. In laymen’s terms, the human body was designed to withstand short spurts of adrenalin rush for emergency purposes, but in war or other stressful situations, indiviuals exposed to continual adrenalin rushes risk breaking down the body’s capacity to tolerate the abnormal levels. You can think of it like a biological rubber band. It can only stretch so far but it has a breaking point. When the “rubber band” breaks, the brain turns on itself in the same way as the body can turn on its own immune system. Signals meant to save are reversed. Instead of turning off the triggers, it repeats them at random. Now that science understands the mechanism, it’s trying to find the switch to turn off the “alarm.” Who knows how long that will take, but in the meantime, it is important to find ways to help each other.
So, today has been a good day. If any of you want to follow a similar approach in your riding, go to the BACKGROUNDER PAGE FOR THE PUBLIC and print the information for your own handouts.
Marching forward in faith,