Hooray, Veterans’ Voices Magazines

Hooray, Veterans’ Voices Magazines

VA Medical Center – Richmond, VA

By Michael Harrod

”Hooray” is the closest spelling I can come to for ”Ooh-rah” in the English dictionary. The term ”Ooh-rah” is not even listed in this dictionary I have on my shelf, so I apologize: I don’t know how to spell the word. Obviously, as I write this article, a Marine is not handy to assist me with my spelling. I know ”Hooray,” an expression of joy, is not what the Marines had in mind when they invented the word ”Ooh-rah,” but it’s close enough to ”affirmative” or ”you got that right” for the purposes of this article.

What I mean to say is: ”good going” Veterans’ Voices magazine. This magazine has been a great help to me personally and to others as well. Writing for the magazine helped me work through my problems. Many a night I have awakened between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. with the problems of my world sitting squarely on my shoulders. I would think of suicide for a few minutes, and then, I would turn to my word processor or my computer and work on a story for Veterans’ Voices. If I wasn’t sure what to write about, I would read from Veterans’ Voices until an idea hit me. If I drew a blank for a story or article idea, I would instead work on ideas for raising money for the magazine. When people talk about writing as a therapeutic outlet for the mind, I think back to those many nights of darkness and despair that I went through. I wonder what would have happened if it weren’t for the magazine and the creative outlet it offered me during the middle of those horrible nights. I think about the guys coming back from war these days and the problems they must have on their minds and in their guts. Why is the suicide rate so high for our returning military these days? Thoughts of suicide or just thinking a suicidal thought is nothing for the living to be ashamed of, and the dead don’t feel guilty. Maybe the solution is to write about those feeling instead of acting on them in a shameful way. After all, one of the purposes of this magazine is to give a veterans a voice, don’t you think?

I wish for a time when Veterans’ Voices will go out to many more veterans to let them know we are thinking of them. If the magazine could afford to publish more magazines, maybe the returning veterans could know that we are interested in their stories. Support Veterans’ Voices magazine by spreading the word and encouraging others to subscribe today, or think of a way to look for new donors that can help support the magazine’s efforts.

What Veterans’ Voices Gives to Me

 

What Veterans’ Voices Gives to Me

 

By Tim Segrest

VA Medical Center — Albuquerque, NM

 

I was asked to write about something that I, surprisingly, hadn’t really thought much about. I was asked how sharing my writings with you, my reader, helps me. Well, I have to be honest when I say that I really write for my own therapy.

I did this for several years before even considering submitting any of my work to be published or read aloud by another soul. I never wrote a thing until 2003, and I had my first poem published around 2006, I think, in “A Surrender to Other Moon” poetry collection book.

And while I still write for my own therapy, I have found sharing does fulfill a kind of void for me. It’s kind of like the phrase, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” You see, my life in the military was focused on a few things. Aside from the obvious, protecting this country’s great freedom, it was also to help, protect, and free others from oppression. I believe no man, or nation, has the right to commit crimes against humanity, such as genocide. Therefore, helping others makes me, as an individual, feel good in doing what I think is right. It is within this feeling that helps me share my work.

The very idea of someone reading it and realizing they are not alone, finding comfort in knowing there are others, such as myself, who shared in the same horrors of war. I guess one of my goals in sharing is showing that a person can find peace, like I have in my writing and sharing. The sad fact that I have myself attempted suicide is proof that

writing works. So, as I share my work, I pray that I have given strength to someone else to help them carry on. And I get the satisfaction that I believe I have. I’ll never actually, truly ever, most likely, never know for sure, but my heart says I have…and if I have helped just one person, well, that is enough for me to be satisfied with my writing. I urge people to press on through the hardest of times. I have been told by a few people that they started writing because of something I wrote.

So, to bring everything to a simple, yet strong statement, I guess I’ll have to say that helping others helps me. This is what sharing through Veterans’ Voices has done for me: I’ve received the gratification, the feeling of helping others, and fulfillment of a void, where I really feel good about a great number of things. After all, it’s been said that the pen is mightier than the sword, or the sniper rifle in my case.

Writing Aide: Phyllis Bibeau

Typist: Jane Harvey