• Last modified 5538 days ago (Feb. 21, 2009)
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Combat vet deeply scarred



Combat vet scarred deeply

     Thank you so very much for the May 30 Outlook article by John Eudy about the hidden wounds of war, "Here's to those who came home scarred." It was long overdue.

     For over 35 years I could not bring myself to even speak of those terrible days. But the images of the dead and the cries of the wounded never left my mind and heart.

     The nightmares come only rarely now and the cold sweats at night, infrequently. I owe a debt of gratitude to a Houston Police Department officer who picked me up on Westheimer as I sleep-walked. He understood because he had been there. He took time to speak with me and to hold me as I wept like a child.

     Combat soldiers don't talk about their experiences because of a sense of shame (I killed) and a sense of loss (why them and not me?). But the wounds are there every hour of every day of every year.

     That is the hidden price of war that must be paid and which those who send the young to war never tally; because it is hidden does not make it any less real.

     All the thanks, all the gratitude, all the Memorial Days cannot cure that wound. Not even the anger at those who forced me to do what I did.

     The only release from the unhealing wound of the soul is forgiveness of all those whom we killed and maimed, forgiveness of those who sent us unknowingly to a fate that stays with us always, forgiveness by the Father of all in whom - both friend and enemy - we must someday be reconciled.

Peter J. Riga

Houston TX

     This article is a reprint from the Houston Chronicle, sent to the Checkerboard by B.O. Wilkins.