Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Long Walk Home

"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood...back home to a young man's dreams of glory and fame...back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time - back home to the escapes of Time and Memory." Thomas Wolfe

Meet Ron Zaleski. He has been walking through our valley this week. Barefoot. Wearing this big sign. Actually, Mr. Zaleski is from Long Island, New York. And he is walking barefoot from New York to California. He has not worn shoes for 33 years, except when going to church. This is all because he is trying to draw attention to the fact that our vets are not getting proper mental health attention when they are discharged. During the walk, he hopes to collect a million signatures on a petition to send to congress and the president, making counseling mandatory for all vets before discharge. In 2009, we lost more vets to suicide than we did in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. And though the returned vets are back, they will never be able to go home again. Not like it was. Not like they remembered it. That they are not being helped is unthinkable. Mr Zaleski's website is Fortunately, there is one who never changes, and we can always come home to him, no matter how bad things have been.

'I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord almighty." Malachi 3:6


Kilauea Poetry said...

Ginny, I just read something on the rate of suicide! It is alarming! I have to remember to pray for these soldiers more!! So important and the verse couldn't be more true (especially in this light- as we often find ourselves saying we can't go back) yet most comforting! I enjoyed the quote here by Thomas Wolfe too- great post and reminder-

From the Kitchen said...

You've pointed out a situation that has been heavy on my heart and mind for some time now. Thanks for "putting it out there". More of us have to do the same.


Our Journey said...

I'm sorry we were out of town & missed signing this...I just had a very good friend from high-school become one of these statistics a few weeks ago & it made me very sad!!

Mary said...

I'm so glad you posted this. This is an issue that needs more attention drawn to it and yours is the first voice in our community that I've heard speak of it. Thanls, Ginny. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

Melanie said...

That is so sad. I can't even begin to imagine some of the things they must have seen.
It reminds us that they still need prayer even after they've returned.

Stephanie V said...

A sad comment on the results of war. Any war. In any place. No matter how right-seeming the cause, war is never the best solution. Unfortunately, it's hard to see it coming sometimes. And even harder to pick up all the broken pieces.

Just wondering: why does he feel it necessary to put shoes on when he goes to church?

FONTY said...


Stacey Dawn said...

Breaks my heart....

Sandra said...

very sad story and we see this all the time. i like that quote and it is all to true. the happiest moments and memories in my life were from 1953 to 1960 in KY, and it has been 50 years since i left there and if i went back all the joy i had there is no more and i am sure all the places are changed beyond belief.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Ginny, thanks for finding me! And for this about Ron Zaleski. How fascinating! When you mentioned walking barefoot, I immediately thought of the stories of Jesus, walking barefoot village to village.

I love catching up knowing you. Sunsets! YES!

thank you!

ruthi said...

Oh Ginny... this is so touching. I felt a lump in my throat when I was reading your post. I've watched about this in the news and it was really an eye-opener. It's sad that our Vets who sacrificed a lot for our country are not given proper care when they come back home. And I couldn't imagine what their families are going through when they are at war and back home. I admire Mr. Zeleski's selfless gesture to help our Vets.

Thanks for posting this Ginny. And I love your quotation from T. Wolfe. Indeed, we can't go back home once we left... because even if we are back home physically, what you left behind will only be a memory. Have a wonderful weekend.

SquirrelQueen said...

This problem is decades old and needs to be addressed once and for all. What Ron Zaleski is doing is very noble and hopefully he will collect enough signatures to make something happen.

Thanks for sharing Ginny.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What an inspirational story.... I couldn't walk ANYWHERE barefooted these days.... I admire that guy. He is passing on a powerful message for all of us.