The Old Bloody Shirt

Billmon at Whiskey Bar writes with eloquence on Vietnam, veterans and politics. Key excerpt:

Of course, the vets themselves are still out there — most of them doing fine (or as fine as the any of the rest of us), but some of them mouldering away in VA hospitals or nursing homes, or struggling through the remaining years of ruined lives. I have a dear friend who recently took a job as a VA social worker, working mostly with Vietnam vets. The last time we had dinner together he told me some of his stories: About the guy who’s been crying himself to sleep at night, every night, for the past 35 years; the one who’s driven everyone around him away — wife, kids, friends, neighbors — and who sits in front of the TV drinking himself into oblivion; the one who finally managed to kill himself. Third time was the charm.

But the saddest story, I think, was the guy who can’t talk about anything else but the war, and who wishes more than anything else he could go back, because that time and that place were the only ones in his life where he felt like he belonged.

After awhile my friend and I just sat at the table and looked at each other. I said something about all those poor kids in Iraq who are heading for the same blasted future, and then we sat and looked at each other some more — both of us too angry to speak.