"Who are you?"
I swallowed my shyness and smiled at the stranger sitting beside me at the campfire. "My name is Dusti."
"I'm sorry. I might have met you before, but I've had four strokes and I don't remember faces sometimes."
"No. No, I don't think we've met before. Hi!"
He gave me his name and a bit of his history. He described how he had to relearn communication - he knew the words but he couldn't say them. "It was like being in a prison."
"My uncle went through that. It must be incredibly frustrating."
"I'm better than I was a few weeks ago. And the VA's been real good to me."
"Well, I won't go to the local one. Buffalo has a good one.". And as he talked, I thought about all the horror stories I've heard over the years, from my friend Eric who came back from Desert Storm with a sickness the VA refused to take seriously to the ongoing enraging problems ginmar has documented.
I'm not pro war. Honestly, I'm no longer certain anyone's really at their core heart pro war. But the steady reminder of how this country doesn't do its across-the-board best for those who come back from being in the armed services injured in such a bewildering variety of ways....it should be impossible. It should be the exception. And yet here I was, sitting in the darkness, glad to hear that this one veteran's experience was the apparent exception.
I have no idea how it changes.
I only know that it must.
..And I know how naive that sounds..
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