Yesterday was my day to work with homeless youth in San Francisco. Over the past year since I’ve been working for them, I’ve been struck each time a former soldier comes through. I’m talking about young men who are 19 or 20 or 21 and have returned from Iraq with Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder, and now they are homeless. I notice them because they always have service dogs to help them with their panic attacks and other aspects of PTSD. I notice them, of course,Â because I’m a pacifist and, well,Â it doesn’t surprise me one little bit that war has damaged them. Many people, not just pacifists, argue that war damagesÂ everybody it touches, to lesser and greater extents, no matter if you believe or knowÂ you’re fighting on the “right” side. And these young men don’t seem to carry that assurance, even if they one time did.
Yesterday, I met a young man who has gone AWOL. I didn’t catch his entire story, though I wanted to hear more about it. It sounded like he had been to either Iraq or Afghanistan but that was the part I missed. I did hear thatÂ his brother was killed and two friends were killed in Iraq, and he was unwilling to be shipped back. So he deserted and he was on his way to Canada. It saddens me to no end to see a young man’s life end this way:Â hunted by the military now, but scared so shitless that being hunted by the army and living illegally in CanadaÂ is better than going back to Iraq. IÂ saw one of those young men in Vancouver last Christmas–an Iraq war veteran, begging for money on the street. I know people have knee-jerk reactions to this subject and I’m not actually trying toÂ force a particularÂ opinion about the war here when I say it’s sad.Â A young person’s destroyed life–destoyed hopes, destroyed dreams–a young person who lives withÂ this kind ofÂ fear every day: this is something that should be sad to anybody, no matter their position on the war.Â Â
I’ve been unable to post as regularly as I’d like to lately. While I’m taking classes at Stanford this quarter, it’s kept me busier than I like, and it’s not possible to post regularly. But the end is in sight–only five weeks away. In the meantime, I’ve also posted another couple of blogs at Catalyst’s blog.