By Mark Wachtler
May 26, 2014. (ONN) Perhaps it’s fate that the decades-long corruption at the Veterans Administration is in the headlines again, just in time for Memorial Day. While Americans typically use this day to remember our nation’s soldiers who’ve fallen in war, we’d like to remember those soldiers who’ve fallen because of war. Here’s a never-reported statistic readers may want to ponder - 6,717 US soldiers died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. 82,805 US veterans have killed themselves in the same time period.
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The below poems were originally published here at Whiteout Press in 2012. One is written by Chris Kyte and brought to our attention by a group of veteran wives called Battling Bare. The other is the poem-pledge of the spouses, children and loved ones of those that have returned from war, not quite whole. It was written by Ash Wise, founder of Battling Bare and the wife of a tormented veteran.
The first poem, written by Chris Kyte, was for a friend and veteran named Irey. As the author explained in an interview about the poem, “Most importantly, I wanted Irey to know that someone cared - someone knew what he did. Someone tried to understand his anguish. Someone respected him, cared for him and admired him for his strength, courage and bravery. There are too many Ireys out there - struggling to cope with life after they did jobs that most of us would never do - could never do and that is just not okay for these Soldiers to be suffering like this.”
The second poem, written by Ash Wise, was composed after she and her vet husband sought treatment from the VA. She relays the story about how they were both treated like criminals. They were forcibly separated and her husband was even arrested and charged with a crime. Wise explained, “The last thing a soldier needs is to be separated from his wife. Guys kill themselves because they think they are such a burden to their families.” Ash Wise founded Battling Bare and penned the poem which has taken on the title, ‘Broken by Battle’.
By Chris Kyte
When there were none left to stand along the wall
When none were left who refused to fall
When mortal wounds of blood had dried
When the strength of man had all but died
Merely drawn of flesh and bone
There you stood, strong as stone
When hope could not be found in sight
When shadows over ran the light
When the world seemed dark and full of fear
When we felt abandoned and none were near
And we were left to crawl alone
You were there, strong as stone
When life was large and harsh assuming
When rage was hot and all consuming
When other truths would trip or stumble
When other values fail and crumble
And faith was a patchwork poorly sewn
Still you stood, strong as stone
When you were weary but honor bound
When you were scared but held your ground
When you were hurt but did not turn back
When you’d had enough but took up the slack
Rest assured it will be known
You are a soldier, strong as stone
By Ash Wise
Broken by battle,
Wounded by war,
My love is forever -
To you this I swore.
I will -
Quiet your silent screams,
Help heal your shattered soul,
Until once again,
You are whole
*From Whiteout Press - We’d love to include a link to the Battling Bare website, but it’s been down for over a year now. We pray everything’s okay with our good friends there.
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