As people get ready to celebrate the holidays, ("The Final Countdown," Dec. 15), I joined a group of family and friends Sunday night who welcomed several servicemen from our local National Guard unit returning home from deployment in Iraq. I saw tears on many faces and lots of wordless hugging, and I felt a small piece of the relief and joy of these soldiers and their families.
I was honored to be there with them, and what this experience brought home to me is how important it is that we civilians help our returning veterans truly "come home."
In talking with veterans and representatives of veterans' groups, the issue I hear most is the gap between those who have experienced the realities of war and those who haven't, and how this gap makes dealing with issues like post traumatic stress and substance abuse all the more challenging.
There are ways that we civilians can help returning veterans and their families, and help our wider community understand and deal with the impact of war on all of us.
First and foremost we can show up, be there, be visible in support and welcoming of veterans coming home.
There are also several existing veterans programs we can bring to our community, one of them being "Theater Of War." This is a two-part presentation, the first part being a reading of "Ajax" (a play written 2,500 years ago by Sophocles on the impact of war), the second part being a dialog between the audience and a panel of recently returned veterans, their families and health care professionals.
I've started a Facebook group called "Humboldt Homecoming" to help connect people in helping veterans, their families and our community.
I invite all the people of Humboldt, of all beliefs and affiliations, to step up and be a part of this.
Robert Olofson, Eureka