Monday, May 26, 2014

A Scrap of Silk and a Virtual Blood Chit

As the daughter of someone who served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, this story of a scrap of silk was of interest on a  day which has become most interesting, if you hang out on social media on a United States Memorial Day.

The scrap of silk in that blog post is called a "blood chit".  In the instance of the military member whose blood chit is discussed in that post, it was an American Army Air Force man whose plane crashed in China in World War II while flying a mission against the Japanese.  He did not survive.  The local people buried him, kept the chit, and helped recovery workers a year or so later find the grave. This was their way of honoring this man's service.

A blood chit is a document of some sort which is carried by soldiers serving in a place where they can not speak the language.  It gives information about the person carrying the chit so someone who finds the person, injured or worse, can help and knows just to do  They aren't only used in war - for example, a French balloonist who toured the United States in 1793 was given a blood chit by George Washington in case he was lost or injured while ballooning.

Flag placed on curb near Johnson City, New York
 Besides this story from the National Archives, my Facebook timeline seemed to be split between people thanking the military for their service and people who are watching the horror of our VA care scandal with increasing anger.

I think all of our veterans who suffered injury, physical, mental, or both, in their service should be issued a blood chit the minute their service ends. The Veterans Administration (VA) system they manuver speaks a different language and has a different culture.  The vets gave their bodies and minds, and the VA turned its back when they needed help the most.  Records were falsified.  Vets died waiting for treatment, caught in an uncaring bureaucracy.

 But, our country has a long history of not doing right by their veterans - including the disabled veterans of World War II.  I know that because my father was one of them. He never lost his faith in the VA that, at the end, failed him.  My husband is a Cold War veteran, and while he did not serve in combat, he did serve in a dangerous career field.  So, for four years of my life, I was a military wife, and my eyes were opened to a lot of things-including how much of the mission of our military is borne on the back of military dependents.

Parking Space in front of Home Depot, Johnson City, NY
I did not post a "thank you for your service" badge on Facebook.  Instead,  I wish I could give all veterans, past and present, a virtual blood chit.

I want to thank everyone for their service - from the children of the several women I know whose children came back from Iraq and/or Afghanistan with PTSD or other ailments, to the members of the "Silent Generation" who shed their blood to destroy the Nazi threat  If they hadn't done that, I may never have been born.  I want to thank the children I grew up with who served in the Vietnam War, and endured an even worse turning of the American back.

I want to thank the men and women who served with my husband, including the interracial military couple in love who could not find anyone in 1970's Wichita Falls, Texas who would marry them, because that kind of marriage wasn't acceptable in the 1970's. Even if said service members were sworn to give their lives for the freedom of said people, no one would do that one thing for them.

All of you - I DO thank you for your service.  It's amazing, that each generation still sends its members marching off to war, and we still treat our vets with lip service and not much else.

When will our veterans, past, present and future, truly be honored by everyone, including their government?

3 comments:

  1. Alana, this is the best thing pertaining to Memorial Day that I've read in a long, long time. I appreciate your viewpoint. This morning at a Memorial Day service at our local cemetery, the minister who spoke read a poem that contrasted the way we treat our politicians when they are buried (with big elaborate ceremonies, etc.) with the way we treat our vets when they pass away. It was a funny, yet a sad poem. Our vets certainly do deserve much more honor and recognition and thanks than they get.

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  2. Nice post Alana! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us :)

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