War is a young man's occupation. Too often, we wrest the child from the bosom of his home and thrust him into harms way.
War is cruel. Filled with terror and pain. We expect the young soldier to willingly walk into the jaws of death, fully prepared to make the supreme sacrifice; never giving thought to the effects of our expectation. We expect the survivors to return home and continue life, putting the horror behind. It cannot be done.
In my work, I frequently saw the effects of war. I dealt with the torn bodies and, perhaps worse, the torn minds. I saw the veteran who daily relives the fear and the pain that shaped who they are today. I see the alcoholism, the addiction, the inability to maintain a relationship and the homelessness that results.
Perhaps the words of a coworker (now medically retired) who served in Vietnam and who lives daily with the pain of a bullet lodged in his spine; who's body is torn by shrapnel expresses it best. Recently he told me "Nobody knows what it is like to wake up every night in a bed that is wet with sweat and feeling like his heart is in a vise." That man has never forgotten. The war is as real to him today as it was when he was struck down.
Recently, I met SSgt Jerry Laub at my desk. When I learned he had voiced his experiences and his observations in poetry, I asked to see some of his work. Upon reading it, I asked for permission to make some of it available here. He graciously agreed.
For my coworker and for all those who preceded and followed him in service to their country, I am proud to present the works of Jerry Laub. I hope it helps those who need help.