This morning my hubby had to have some blood work done at the local V.A. (Veteran’s Administration) clinic. We have gone there numerous times and I always sit and people watch. Today was no different.
The V.A. is not a place to go if you don’t want to be reminded of what men and women do for this country. The waiting room is like every other waiting room in the country. Chairs formed so you can either watch the television, or read old magazines. The chairs are no more and no less comfortable from any other waiting room. On first glance it could be a waiting room for any medical facility in the country.
So, why do I spend more time people watching here, then in other rooms? It’s easy. Most of the clients are men. An occasional woman comes and goes, but for the most part the only women are those wives who have accompanied their husbands. You can tell the wives easily. They are quietly waiting, because being military spouses we got used to waiting years ago. It is a way of life for us. The men fidget. Their eyes are never still, they glance at the television, they look at their phones, they look at their books or magazines, but, their eyes dart all around them, as if knowing they are in a military facility they return to old habits of making certain of their surroundings.
Often you see young men there. Young men who look like old men. They have witnessed too much for their young lives. They are crippled and you can see it, even if the wounds are not noticeable. Their eyes say it all. The mother in me wants to hug them all, somehow make it better, but, that is not my role in their lives.
Today, though, there was only one young person I saw. He came out from being seen and waited impatiently in the queue to schedule his next appointment. He didn’t want to be in line and you could see from his body language that he just was annoyed for having to be there at all.
The others that filled the waiting room were relics from a time when war was called a conflict or just a cold war. These relics were once the best and the brightest. They were strong men. They were well-trained and ready to move in an instant. Today, they walked stiffly and their eyes were not as sharp. Many of them wore pony tails in long silver hair, one last outward sign of rebellion after years of high and tight haircuts.
I sat in a corner chair studying these men. My heart was filled with pride and heart-ache. It is the same feeling I have each time I go there. These men served when it wasn’t popular. They served when no one noticed and no one thanked them. They served because they love our country.
So, thank you to all those vets who are now a bit crippled, a bit hard of hearing, a bit old. I think that on the outside there is age and it’s deterioration, but on the inside that young man filled with fire and strength is laying dormant. I left that clinic feeling grateful for all you did. You paved the way for the young strong men of today. Well done.
Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF, retired Navy wife)