flanges-valves”Goodbye,” he said, as he kissed her. “I’ll count the minutes until we meet again.” He was a romantic and gentle guy, and he didn’t mind showing it to the blue-eyed girl with the pregnant belly who clung to him with tears on her cheeks. He was a young man with stars of patriotism in his eyes and laughter in his soul. It was 2,102,400 minutes and seven thousand miles before he came home again. There was no romance left in his heart and only visions of buddies crying for their mothers, as they bled into the dark jungle soil, to sear the inside of his head.
He spent eighteen months on the front lines, six months in a P.O.W. camp and two years in the V.A. hospital. He had to learn how to walk again and how not to wake up screaming on hot summer nights. He went home to a wife he could barely remember, and a child that had grown up looking at photos of the man he used to be.
Thirty years, eight thousand days on the road and five thousand meals at the mission later, he walked in our door. “Just a cup of coffee,” he says on a rainy afternoon. He sits with downcast eyes, the “fatigues” he wears only a little less grey and worn than he. But they keep him in contact with the only thing he can relate to anymore, and in touch with the time when his life started to go wrong.
He sits and talks, after a time…he tells of the wife and son who finally went away after the fifth job he lost. The mother who died down in Georgia and he didnt have the bus fare for the funeral, his only friend, a lab mix who was run down on the highway when he was too drunk to keep her leashed. Too many losses, too much pain for a man who put it all on the line for his country, and came away with nothing.
The staff and volunteers at ICC open their doors and hearts every day to the men who are our sons, husbands, and fathers who went through hell and never quite found their way back. So many of our clients are veterans who were never the same again after fighting the wars that most of us barely remember. We owe them the respect to listen, to judge not, and to try to make their road a little easier. For the millions who have been able to go on with their lives there are a million who haven’t. Stuck in a time warp of desperation, they camp off the bike paths and bridges of life waiting for someone to care.
That’s why your help is so important. Every cup of coffee drunk, every blanket given, every food box provided is one more opportunity to touch a shattered life and intervene. ICC offers a jobs program, shelter assistance through our transitional housing projects, toiletries, clothing and hope for a better tomorrow. What is the price of a man’s soul? How do we count the cost of a life destroyed? How can we say “Thank You” to all of our veterans in ways that matter most?
If you have been one of the fortunate, please help us lend a hand to those who haven’t made it.
If you have lost a loved one, what better way to remember a bright and shining soul than to help those left behind. Your contribution is a memorial to all our brave young men and women.