Monday, March 24, 2008

After Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier. I really need to blog about it in depth. To blog about everything that happened, everything it meant, the ups and the downs, the wild whirlwind it was. (I can afford to get lyrical, now that I'm publicly out as being female. You can all live with it.)

But I can't just yet. It really was too intense. I know a lot of people elsewhere in the blogosphere are laughing at the thought that mental health folk might be needed. I know a lot of people are talking negatively about the VVAW providing security and in some cases mental health assistance.

But mentally strong as I would consider myself to be, the pace of Winter Soldier and the emotional, mental, and physical requirements inherent in it nearly broke me down. And a very kind VVAW gentleman, whose name I wish I could remember, helped me up. It really helped to have the older vets explaining that they had lived with these things for years, and some of them had found solutions to them.

When you put a whole bunch of people with PTSD together and throw them into a stressful situation that forces a lot of reliving things people would prefer to forget, it's pretty tough. Someone elsewhere commented on the fact that the audiences for the panels were not mainly OIF/OEF vets. This is true-primarily because the OIF/OEF vets had the majority of recent experience with combat and conflict and simply could not sit through the testimony about it comfortably . You take someone with PTSD and offer them a chance to sit through a two hour presentation guaranteed to trigger it, let alone many of them, many of them will say, "Thank you, but no thank you." It's simply self-survival. I don't know a single IVAW member who sat through every panel. This reason is and was a major factor. People were pretty hyped up just having to talk about things.

For me personally, it was also a very different experience: appearing publicly meant that you are, quite simply, public. There's no way to avoid it. All of us were interviewed six ways from Sunday, including by quite a persistent conservative gentleman, who seemed actually disappointed that I loved my country and was quite willing to swear to anything I said under oath, and had already filed sworn statements on some of my intended subject matter. Denis, I think you may have given him unrealistic expectations.

On the subject of interviews: I really can't speak many of the languages that I was apparently interviewed by and translated into. So I will have to rely on the Babelfish translation of one or two of the interviews, when I state the following corrections:

First, and most important, I do not "prefer" to speak English. I speak English. I prefer to speak English only in the sense that I prefer to speak rather than remain silent. This is much in the same sense that I prefer to eat food rather than starve, and wear clothing rather than run around naked. I do not have any other languages fluently. While I speak bits and pieces of Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Korean, Spanish, and German, if I am required to do anything rather than curse, ask for the bathroom, or talk like a three year old, I must use English, because it is the only language I have the ability to do it in.

Secondly, my family also did not 'flee the revolution in 1979'. In 1979, my father and mother, who are both native-born Americans, born in Brooklyn, New York, which I understand can occasionally seem like another country to those of you not fond of NYC, were probably eating pizza in their Brooklyn apartment. Their parents were in fact immigrants. However, it was over fifty years ago.

If any of this is inaccurate and I am maligning the paper which published this, I blame Babelfish. Or perhaps, my decision to speak in my 'preferred' English. Otherwise, there could be a great article on how I love Taco Bell, I feel so-so, I do not love the war, and it is very cold outside. Perhaps there would have even been time for a fascinating detour into the exciting world of where precisely the library is, and how my house would be their house.


Scott said...

I knew you were female. Do I get a cookie and/or trophy? :)

I put together a Netvibes universe with IVAW related feeds from around the web, like YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Technorati, active bloggers, etc. What do you think about the idea? Is it useful or convenient? Any suggested additions, like another active blog?

ILO said...

It sure as hell was intense. Just showing up there took more out of me than showing up for Iraq did. I also spent more time at WS reflecting on what I had done in Iraq than I did while I was in Iraq. It turns out that I needed to do that, and my testimony (sorry, folks, I wasn't on one of the panels) wasn't even about anything I had done personally.

That was a powerful event. It's a pity that nobody heard about it unless they were already peace movement types. Still, the videos are getting around and eventually people will catch on.

Earl said...

Looking for the posts that follow, thanks for bringing what you have. I wonder how many wars have brought veterans home that can't talk about it - all of them is my bet.

Thus Spake Ortner said...

Whatever you non-english speaking brooklynite.

Unlike you I am a proud american and a proud citizen of Red Sox Nation.

(And before anyone jumps me, I am joking, so relax.)

streetsweeper95B said...

Yes ma'am...some of us knew you are a woman. A damn good one at that. I wish you all the luck in the world. Continue helping your fellow soldier & give the VA pure hell.

Just remember it is our Congress that let us down, not our brave men & women. If you ever get in a nine line bind & need a helping hand holler.

You know where to find me. I'll glady come on like the 7th Cav Reg plus.... ;)

Take care,Sergeant. May God Bless you & yours. You did FINE, woman.

Army Sergeant said...

Thank you, streetsweeper. I appreciate that.

I will always help out a fellow servicemember or former servicemember in need, no matter what their political affiliation. That stuff doesn't really matter. What matters is that we are brothers (and yes, sisters) forever.

Our Congress did and has let us down, and that's on both sides of the house. Unfortunately, it's not politically convenient for them to prioritize our soldiers unless they're stumping for themselves. That's why you see no attention to the VA, because it /is/ a nonpartisan issue. Or should be.

Hopefully all of us can keep holding their feet to the fire.

Did you watch/see the VA panel, by the way? Some of it was heartbreaking. There's also someone from the pro-war side I'd like to give some props to on that note, but I won't unless he publicly outs himself.

streetsweeper95B said...

Your welcome. No, I did not see the VA panel...I was working outside of WS2....out on the grassy knoll, to speak. know where to find me if you should need help.

Be careful straddling a barbwire fence. Man or woman it hurts like all get out when you get cut...down there.