I have a new sign that I display on my Saturday morning anti-war protests on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. It says "22 Vet's Suicides Per Day! Out Of Afghanistan, Now!"
The sign breaks my heart. These "kids" are coming home with no way to deal with normal life, so, some are committing suicide. Their "family" has become the troops they served with, and many want to go right back. We are not paying enough attention in this society to critical social problems.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is overwhelmed by the needs of the returning vets -- not only 50,000 physically wounded but also the post-traumatic stress victims who are psychologically damaged. Veterans Affairs is trying to serve more than 1.4 million vets in need.
Where are we spending our money? Unaccounted for "petty cash" on Afghan President Hamid Karzai's desk every week? Making new weapons to kill people?
Over 8,000 vets a year killing themselves -- and those are only the ones we know about. Add that to the troops still getting killed in Afghanistan. Tragic!
I don't feel like I can do enough to make a difference. The message does get out to some motorists passing me on the bridge every Saturday morning. But only between 11 and 11:30 a.m. I can do better, but only in good weather. Where are the college kids protesting? Where are the Mothers for Peace? Where are the news stories about these hideous statistics? Where are the debates in Congress?
I am the mother of every one of those incredibly courageous troops. They never could believe they would die, or be horribly wounded, in their 20s. Better believe it!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since June 2005, Estelle Margolis on most Saturday mornings has conducted a vigil on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge protesting U.S. military presense in Afghanistan.