You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!
Rudyard Kipling wrote “Tommy,” about the contempt with which British civilians often treated the soldiers of the British empire, in the closing years of the nineteenth century. (Those soldiers wore the “Widow’s Uniform” because they were in the service of the the widowed British Queen Victoria). One hundred years later, many soldiers around the world might agree that little has changed.
Modern warfare techniques mean more efficient killing, in more ways, and sometimes more trauma for survivors. The trauma comes home, of course. At the beginning of this year, the Governor of Oregon set up a special commission to investigate and report on what could be done to improve and expand services for veterans. The commission has held public meetings all over Oregon to hear what veterans and their families see as the crucial issues.
With the commission due to make its report at the end of December, we’re asking veterans, their families and friends, and the professionals who treat their physical and mental wounds, what most needs addressing. We will also be hearing from the chair of the commission, Paul Evans.
Are you a soldier or veteran, or the relative, partner or friend of one? What do veterans need? A new GI bill? More mental health screening? A citizenry that has a better understanding of what war entails? How are we doing?
- Eddie Black: Infantry instructor with the Oregon National Guard who served in Iraq in 2004-2005, and a major contributor of photographs to the Exit Wounds exhibition
- David Michael Smith: Veteran who volunteered to serve in Vietnam from 1968-1969
- Mary Geddry: Mother of a Marine veteran from the Iraq War and the author of An Open Letter to Three Iraqi Women
- Lynn Van Male: Staff psychologist with the PTSD clinical team at the Portland VA Medical Center and assistant professor of psychiatry at OHSU
- Paul Evans: Chair of Governor Ted Kulongoski’s task force on veterans services and the governor?s policy advisor on military and veterans? affairs, as well as an Air Force veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars