What Veterans Voices Means to Me
By Daniel Paicopulos, Marines
Writing Type: Poem, Prose
By Daniel Paicopulos
A few years ago, some online poetic friends I have never met urged me to submit my work to Veterans’ Voices. I had never been one for submissions, but I considered it another growth step in my later life.
Now, I am delighted to have made the choice to participate. For a long time, I had lived with the physical damage of a mortar assault, as well as PTSD and panic attack syndrome, including the remorse, shame, fears, and anger that accompany them, as well as cancer from Agent Orange exposure.
I had lived like this for decades until I finally accepted treatment, which provided me with coping skills and the ability to more openly and positively express myself. It was followed by additional personal and spiritual development in what some might refer to as churches or spiritual centers, sort of a graduate school after therapy.
One side benefit was a dramatic improvement in my writing, which became more focused, truthful. and honest. When one is as imperfect as I, it takes a lot of guts to try to spread hope, inspire faith, promote love, and go for broke on what matters to the Spirit above.
It can be breathtaking, even alarming, to listen to one’s echoes, consult one’s memories. It might even be surprising to recall that which was forgotten, admitting that it was suppressed. It can be staggering to say out loud, those words based on reality, ones rooted in blood and bone, in heart and mind.
So, one writes in order to discover what one does not know how to say. It is necessary to go to the center, to the hot, steaming core, to get face to face with grief, sorrow, love, and to ask oneself, “What am I not willing to reveal, and if I reveal it, share it with others who understand, how will it contribute? Will my words make a difference?”
As I write this acknowledgment today, I have become a man of many words, but I don’t have enough of them to adequately express my gratitude for the existence of Veterans’ Voices, a safe place for veterans of all stripes to participate, a haven in which to continue to grow, alongside my sisters and brothers.
Notes: Written on a beautiful day in San Diego