By Matthew David Davison
VA Medical Center--Long Beach, CA
America does not see them.
America does not hear them.
America looks through them.
America does not claim them.
They are close to 3,000,000 strong,
an army of the unseen,
like Cheyenne Dog Soldiers.
You can’t see them, but you feel their presence.
Most went missing in Nam.
They were never welcomed home.
Politicians denied responsibility;
yesterday’s vets turned their backs.
They were the hope of this nation,
all American boys, idealistic and visionary,
products of peace and prosperity.
Most made it home, intact;
too many never made it back to the world.
The rest are missing in America,
wounded and untreated.
You might find them asleep,
with frightened eyes wide open
in the street, hidden in a junked car
or maybe some abandoned tool shed.
You might catch a glimpse of them
behind the green curtain of Humboldt County,
or deep inside a park in a mountain shack concealed by pines.
You might hear them call out a name,
warn of incoming, scream for a medic, cry out in agony.
Don’t turn away; don’t leave them again.
Embrace them; welcome them home.
Make them believe they will be okay.
Like ghosts, they move through the years,
dragging their youth behind them,
hoping we will intervene before it’s too late.