You know full well war requires sacrifice on the part of all citizens. Yet life has seemed eerily normal for many at home as our country has fought its longest war and our armed forces remain in harm’s way. You feel ashamed when you read about our veterans’ high rates of homelessness, incarceration, addiction, and suicide, knowing that society is implicated in their failure to reintegrate. You understand that there is a social contract whereby the society that sends people to war must tend to them when they return, sharing the responsibility for the things they saw, did, and had done to them.
“Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation.”—Thich Nhat Hanh
Perhaps you work with distressed troops and veterans, and in your work with people considered “broken,” you have sensed you are nearing a source of deep spiritual wisdom. Men and women (and you yourself may be one of them) who have witnessed the dark side of human nature have the potential for an integrity and wholeness of which they may not yet be entirely aware. To call these people “disordered” seems entirely backward. Instead, they are seekers trying to understand the enormous questions that war and military service have posed to them so starkly, but which in truth confront us all.