Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Humbled by families waiting at home

Your voice: Paul Jones

I recently spent two days at the Fort Polk in Louisiana, where country music artist Kevin Sharp and I spoke to the wives and, yes, husbands of soldiers who are in Iraq. Kevin and I do a seminar on cancer, depression and suicide, so they asked us to come down and speak. Depression and suicide have grown out of control in the military. I was honored, as you can imagine, but both Kevin and I had no idea what we were about to experience.

What we found when we got there was literally hundreds of families that are sitting everyday watching and hearing what the press has to say - all negative, all the time. We found families who have no clue where their husbands or wives are or if they are even alive. We found children who, we have been told, will hear on the news that soldiers have been killed and these same small American children will look up to mommy and ask, "Is Daddy dead now?"

We found people whose husbands and wives are getting shot at every single day and they are at home getting food stamps and free cheese because their spouse only makes $1,200 a month. We found people who have had to watch hearings on pictures of Iraqis being put in sexual positions, yet at the same time our sets show our own people humiliating each other on what we call "reality" TV!

We found families that agree and disagree with what the war is about, yet they support each other and our country. We found literally hundreds of people that have more class than almost anyone you will find on TV. We found people who have every right to complain and yet all they said to us over and over again was, "We are proud of what our husbands/wives are doing." These same people said that they would go through all this again if it meant helping others.

Kevin and I learned a lot that weekend, but the main thing I learned is I am ashamed of our country for allowing these fine people to be put in even further harm by not having any feelings for the families that are home, forced to watch political views being played out on television for all to see.

If you want to see torture, go visit a military base that has soldiers deployed. What you will see will amaze you and humble you beyond belief. God bless all of them. I pray my children never have to wake up in the morning and ask my wife "Is Daddy dead yet?" just before eating their cereal.

Paul Jones of Green Township is a stand-up comedian, songwriter, author and advocate for mental health.

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