“The killing is necessary, I know, but still the doing of it is very bad for a man and I think that, after all this is over and we have won the war, there must be a penance of some kind for the cleansing of us all.”
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars come to a close and a new generation of veterans comes home, America will again be confronted with the costs of war. The last painful decade has seen a staggering amount of loss and—equally significant—of killing. Our veterans bear the physiological and physical burdens of combat, from amputations to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to sorrow for lives taken or friends lost. All too often, they bear this alone. This moral and spiritual weight must be shared by the civilians who asked our men and women to fight.
The agony suffered by many of our veterans is vivid testimony: 22 veterans commit suicide every day and addiction, unemployment, and homelessness rates are sky high. The Department of Veterans Affairs and other dedicated organizations work tirelessly to assist our returning soldiers, but we have to do more.
The nation requires concrete ways to address the psychic wounds of war. We need a nationwide day of solemn ceremonies acknowledging the costs in lives, trauma, lost limbs, broken families; a renewed commitment to address post-traumatic stress and the other social and health issues of veterans; a discussion about non-military national service for young non-military Americans; and systematic interaction between combat veterans and civilians, particularly other young people, in which combat veterans honestly share the story and impact of their combat experience.
Introduced by Congressmen Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Walter Jones (R-NC), H.R. 1492 aims to create a commission that would address these issues. This website will tell you more about the bill and its supporters, but also about the need. A new generation of veterans is counting on us to welcome them home, hear their stories, and help them heal. They are too important to let slip through the cracks.