Chuck A. Stetson

Chuck A. Stetson
Location
Connecticut,
Birthday
October 13
Bio
she who knows knows and loves me — i am a happy man.

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Salon.com
JULY 28, 2010 11:13AM

Two Silver Stars and the Afghan War

Rate: 34 Flag

I was waiting in a Wendy’s drive-thru lane looking through my wallet. I was hoping I could afford a single with cheese; it’s near the end of the hottest July on record, and I’m trying to stretch my monthly pension check to cover the ungodly electric bill [air conditioning] that’s sure to come in the first week of August. I didn’t see him coming.

“Hey big man.”

“Huh?”

“I’ve got two silver stars,” this man says; he’s dressed in a beige t-shirt, clean jeans; he’s seemingly well groomed, but his eyes look lost — desperate.

“You a vet?”

“Yeah.”

I study the man. He looks younger than me; maybe fifteen years separate us. He’s holding on to a Wendy’s bag. “What war?” I ask.

“I’ve got two silver stars,” he says again.

“You saw combat?”

The man looks towards St. James Cemetery. “I sleep in those woods.”

“Listen,” I begin to say, knowing I have enough money for two singles with cheese. “I’ll buy you a burger … that’s all I can afford.”

“Already got me a burger, I need something to drink.”

“They’ll give you some water.”

“Come on big man.”

Before I continue the debate, the man turned his attention to the car idling behind me. “I've got two silver stars,” I heard him say.

I sensed a debate within myself. My instincts told me the man was mentally ill; my compassion seemed ashamed of me. I pulled out of the drive thru without placing an order; I was no longer hungry.

Yesterday the House of Representatives voted 308-114 to pass an almost $59 billion measure to fund the additional 30,000 troops President Obama has ordered deployed in Afghanistan. The bill includes $33.5 billion for the additional 30,000 troops in Afghanistan and other Pentagon operational expenses; $5.1 billion goes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund; $6.2 billion goes for State Department aid programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Haiti; and $13.4 billion in benefits goes for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. The United States is poised to spend over a trillion dollars for a war that’s become a quagmire — a killing field.

What does it take? How does one infuse common sense into the minds of those we elect to lead us? When will that man I encountered in a Wendy’s drive thru lane have enough to eat — receive proper treatment?

Today the weather is pleasant — cooler. I’m still worrying how I’m going to pay for my coming electric bill. I now know what war that man is a victim of.

 

 

 

 

 

lens6477231_1251041571homeless_in_black_and_white_intro_jpg   

photo from Tom Stone's photo essay: American Poverty, now renamed "American Outsiders"

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Comments

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this insanity must end.
we are like the frog in the pot of water on the stove as it gradually heats up his body keeps adapting and he doesn't realize he needs to jump out or die.
Common sense or any kind of sense has nothing to do with the momentum of the War Machine.
R
This is tough stuff, Chuck. Yes, we will always have the poor, we will always have the mentally ill but it seems like we as a country go out of our way to "produce" more of the same. When will it stop? A heartbreaking piece, Chuck.
Now go stick your head in the freezer.
Line from a Jackson Browne song: "People devote their lives to making war and we call those people sane."

I've had my doubts about Afghanistan all along but no longer. We need to get out.
At a time when they are laying off teachers and policemen along with thousands of other jobs, we fight two wars for nothing, The people hate us, they want us out, so what the hell are we doing there? It's insane!
My fear is that it's going to get worse before it gets better.... sad indeed.
Wow . . . this may well become the order of the day . . .
Maybe he'd been a ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯general ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯ down on us luck? Nah.
Always enough money for the war machine; never enough to fight and solve poverty problems. It is sick.
So very, so sadly true.
This war is Viet Nam all over again.
When is the lightbulb going to go off?
Rated with hugs
In my state, Minnesota, the governor cut the entire budget for medical care for the mentally ill homeless. Now they are hanging out at the ER when they crash. Thanks for the post, we all need reminding.
It's disgusting how we treat those who protect us...
Very poignant Chuck. It just baffles why it is still going on. Seriously, I just don't get it.
Health (body and mind) seems to take a back seat to power, faith and celebrity. A super power won't be so super when everyone is suicidal and obese.
Chuck: Great post. Keep it up. Afghanistan was never "the right war." It's hard to fathom people starving at home while we're trying to plant a "government in a box" in Afghanistan.
Those of us who remember Vietnam are having a hard time keeping a straight face. Can you spell q-u-a-g-m-i-r-e?
so sick of seeing money wasted on a war when we need it here to help our own citizens. it is insanity.
I agree. Whats the strategy? R
it does seem so senseless. i'm married to a soldier, actively serving his 22nd year....because we live near such a large base, we see that look you are referring to....sadly enough, we see it in the eyes of young men, men the same age as our oldest two....
Good job, Chuck. Bring them home and let Afghanistan chew up and spit some other country out.
Chuck, I detest war in all its forms, yet I admire the soldiers (and police officers and firefighters) who put themselves in harm's way for us all on a daily basis. Thanks for illuminating the insanity for us to examine. (R)ated.
your honesty, which is truly rare, is humbling...I am never rushing through your writing and I always relate to something
Well done, Chuck. And I agree with your message.
Yes, it must end! rated.