Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Tale of Two Veterans....

This is a tale of two veterans. They never fought together, they never served together. In fact they served in two different countries. Those countries, however, are fairly intermingled economically although one of them doesn't like to admit it.

The first veteran served in the US Army from 2005-2008. His tour of duty ended abruptly and early thanks to a medical discharge engineered primarily by a certain person in his leadership. Veteran 1 never wanted to leave the service, he was mostly happy with it and he loved his job. It was something he was good at, and the pay was at least enough to live off of. But Veteran 1 got hurt, and his leadership would not allow him to get the help he needed to become an operational solder again. After fighting discharge recommendations for three months, he gave up and the process for him to leave began. Even though he had been officially pronounced to be unfit for duty at this point, his leadership still refused to allow him to get the proper medical treatment to recover. The situation worsened by the week as Veteran 1 pulled every trick he could think of to put pressure on the leadership to comply with treatment plans. He complained to senior leadership, he reported the offending leader to a number of authorities. Nothing worked. The leader even tried to have him thrown in jail one morning for refusing to discuss the details of his medical issues with him. Veteran 1 explained that he was not required to release those details and that the leader wasn't legaly entitled to know them. So the leader told Veteran 1 that he would be thrown in the post detention facility if he failed to comply. Veteran 1 refused to back down, calling the bluff, and was eventually dismissed and sent back to the doctors. Veteran 1 was discharged six months after the recommendation was handed to his command. The doctors had told the command that the process should have taken no longer then three weeks.

When Veteran 1 left the service he had no money and no home. He lived on other people's couches and floors for several weeks while working under the table as a general construction laborer. His pride pushed aside, he gathered together the funds he could and went to his parent's house. Veteran 1 currently works an underpaid job at a Fortune 500 company that has a brutal reputation and a history of violence. This is where Veteran 1 met Veteran 2.

The details on Veteran 2 are sketchy. He was in the Mexican Army for six years. He wouldn't say why he came to the US and perhaps he doesn't know. He speaks a fair amount of English and Veteran 1 speaks almost no Spanish. There conversations are awkward and strange. Sometimes five or ten minutes go by while neither says a word. At the company it is Veteran 1's job to monitor Veteran 2 while he cleans. Both of the veterans think this policy is racist. Both have remarked as such to each other as they walk around the building. Veteran 1 considers Veteran 2 a friend, but Veteran 2 talks to Veteran 1 as he imagines a black man would have spoken to a white man in the 1840's. With a tone and phrasing of inferiority. This bothers Veteran 1 because he considers Veteran 2 his equal. They also seem to have a lot in common. They were forgotten by the countries they swore to defend and wound up with shitty jobs after the fact.

We are one people. We are one struggle. We all fight the same fight in the end. It doesn't matter what country your from, or what your faith is, or what you used to fight for. In the end it's all just one big battle for freedom, justice, and dignity. At the workplace of Veteran 1 and 2 the battle has long been considered lost. But it will be fought again. It will be won. One day.

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