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It Is No Small Thing, Vietnam Vet

by Melissa Martin  
11/04/2011 / Mens Issues


Gabe was searching for something he had lost in the Vietnamhis dignity. Gabe, a Vietnam vet, traveled to and from homeless shelters in the United States, but not in cars, airplanes, or buses. He walked. Being tired of VA hospitals, support groups, a hodge-podge of medication from psychiatrists, and assistance from well-meaning social workers, Gabe went in search of something he had lost and could not find.

But, the voices in his head and heart took up permanent residence. The chilling screams of the children could not be drowned out with cheap Mad Dog wine and PCP- laced marijuana. Guilt's appetite was unrelenting. Consumed with self-hatred, he existed in perennial purgatory, believing that even God had forsaken him. He didn't know an orphanage was located next to the enemy's ammunition building.

Yes, he needed rehab, medication, treatment, food, housing, and an address for his SSDI check, but he craved something he had losthis dignity. A special nonprofit program embraced him with a philosophy not based on mental illness or pity but founded on self-respect and relationship. Volunteers listened to his stories and gave warmth, friendship, and a job. He saw his worth reflected back in the face of others. In due time, he gave forgiveness to himself.

The crux of the story follows. There is healing in helping clients to find their dignity and it is no small thing.

Melissa writes about the God and human connection and condition.

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