I know someone who that has spent much of the past 15 years as a wanderer. He doesn’t have an address. He makes friends easily so he frequently can get a shower and a sofa to sleep on. He was in combat in 2003 during the invasion of Baghdad. He came back a changed young man. He describes his time there as one very long day. The trip across the desert and the fighting in Baghdad is recorded as being 21 days. That was just the most intense part. He came back angry and bitter. He no longer slept at night. He would have to exhaust himself and drink to pass out. That is how he rested. Many times, he contemplated suicide and attempted without success
How do you encourage someone that discouraged? Where do you find hope to give them? Why live just one more day? One day is like the next.
Folks like this do not find relationships that last. They get bored easily. They prefer their own company to the company of others. They have a changed view of the world, perhaps a more realistic view, which contributes to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
I read so much about programs all over the U.S. that advertised help for returning soldiers and veterans. When I investigated further, I found that many had limited funding and were more of referral points than resources. Homeless shelters fill to capacity by sundown. Veterans were having to compete for places to sleep with the chronic homeless population. I feel they deserve better of us.
So, instead of complaining about the situation, I decided to do something about it. I discussed it with some of the patients, many of them were Veterans. They supported the concept. I completed the required paperwork to form a non-profit named, BuddyWatch, Inc.
Buddy in this context applies to the concept that each soldier is a buddy to the next. They go into battle not for a cause, but for the buddies at their back and flanks. It is about getting home safe. When a buddy gets bad news from home, or is under additional duress, the Commander can place him, or her on “buddy watch”. This gives them tangible support when they are going through something difficult. Often, it may prevent someone from going AWOL, attempting suicide, drinking themselves into oblivion, or looking for a fight. Buddy Watch works. So why not do the same thing for Veterans?