by Pa Rock
CNN had a very poignant story on the internets today about two veterans of the war in Iraq. The men featured in the story were Andrew Kinard, a young enlisted Marine, and Army LTC Raymond Rivas. Both men received serious war injuries, both were on a panel last April that discussed veteran's health care with Congress, and each experienced their own life-changing event on July 15th of this year.
Andrew Kinard is a bright and energetic young man who is on his way to Harvard Law School. He is ambitious and driven. Many of his friends believe that he will one day become the President of the United States. Whatever Andrew accomplishes in life, it will take extraordinary effort - because Andrew lost his legs in an awful IED explosion in Iraq. In fact, he lost his entire body below the hips.
LTC Ray Rivas got too close to several blasts and developed symptoms that included difficulty in talking, reasoning, and remembering. He was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, and a later diagnosis revealed that he had emerging Alzheimer's Disease. He required help from friends for ordinary functions like bathing, eating, and dressing himself. Ray Rivas was also in a lot of pain.
On July 15th Andrew Kinard celebrated with friends at his "going away" party as he prepared to leave Washington D.C. and head to Harvard. That same evening Ray Rivas sat in his car in the parking lot at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio where he wrote several suicide notes to family and friends and then killed himself with an overdose of prescription drugs.
Andrew Kinard and Ray Rivas each had their lives irrevocably changed as they helped to carry out the world view of a cabal of ego maniacal characters who were too chickenshit to go to war themselves a generation ago. I grieve for Ray and his family, and I am hopeful that Andrew can live all of his dreams despite his monumental handicap. I hope that Andrew does make it to the White House. If he does, and if the subject of war comes up in his presidency, Americans will at least know that their leader understands the true costs of war.