Going beyond putting yellow ribbon magnets on our vehicles, sending cookies and care packages, beyond “Thank you for your service”…

Some of the oldest stories from all cultures are about those who are called to preserve and protect what is SACRED to them: the safety of the community, the country, their people. This a reciprocal relationship.  But what if the reciprocity is incomplete? Are we in the community holding up our end of the bargain?

How can citizens truly support and help heal our Veterans from the invisible wounds of war?

 While we are at the grocery store, or texting a friend, or watching a ballgame, attending religious services or taking a shower, someone in our military is in harm’s way, being subjected to unrelenting stress, and perhaps being wounded or killed. And not all of the wounds are visible.  It is estimated that at least 30% of returning Veterans–thousands– will meet the criteria for combat stress injury,  PTSD.  But none will return unchanged. Our country is at war.

 The invisible wounds are those of the spirit, the identity, the very soul, that are created when a person is wounded by what he or she has experienced…witnessed…had to do…lost. We all can participate in acknowledging these wounds, giving them honor and dignity.

As they who protect and guard us are being wounded, so too are we citizens. Our entire country is at war. By ministering to the wounds of our Veterans, we can tend and help heal the wounds of our nation and our society.

Citizens can tend the wounds by being ready to receive our veterans, providing and assuring that our communities feel like a safe place to come home to. We can create a culture of compassion in which healing can take root. This can be done in many ways, but one of the most profound is in truly hearing the stories of the experiences of those who have returned from war, listening deeply to the pain and the suffering without turning away. As we engage in this kind of hearing and deep listening, we can begin to transfer and share the burdens and responsibility for actions taken during warfare. 

“Our Veterans cannot heal unless society accepts responsibility for its war-making. To the Veteran, our leaders and people must say, ‘You did this in our name, because you were subject to our orders, and because we put you in untenable situations. We lift the burden of your actions from you  and take it onto our shoulders. We are responsible for you…’ “-Edward Tick

We cannot continue with business as usual. We must actively engage in healing our Veterans so that all of us can heal.


Create a village as strong as a war

To pick the maggots off my skin

And burnish the gold that lies within

This will renew the strength of my sacred core.

Can we create a village as strong as a war?

JACK McLEAN USMC, Vietnam Veteran

Yes, we can.

 Join us at the monthly Just Listening circle meetings to participate in the kind of healing that only the community of those who are protected and guarded can provide.



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