Our vets are closest when they are family


America has been involved in many wars since its inception. Some of those conflicts have received rousing support while others have brought great controversy. Whatever the fight, our troops have sacrificed much. We might not always like their missions but it’s imperative that we recognize the contributions they make.           

In most instances we are talking about young people here. Some right out of high school, others with children back home. In many instances they have experienced things hard to describe. In too many instances some will not be coming home.

The fact that many soldiers must wait more than a year for benefits promised to them is appalling. All too often these soldiers have been deployed multiple times. This is a situation that needs to be fixed. In addition, many folks (often times politicians) speak of ‘sending the troops in’ to all kinds of situations. Syria and Korea are at the top of today’s list. All to often it is easy to send the troops in when they are not your kids. All too often there is a distance between those we send over and those who stay home. 

Years ago the draft brought the war home. How cavalier we can be about only losing 4,000 plus during our last wars. Those losses are somebody’s kids. We forget so easily.

Let us hope that we are careful where we send our warriors. Let us also hope that we are careful to recognize their sacrifices. The freedoms we enjoy today have been paid for by Americans willing to serve.


Back Home

When the dust has finally settled

and it’s time for coming home,

some who’ve faced the danger

are often left alone,

to fend for self and family.

Just looking for solid ground –

all to often returning hero’s

find a world turned upside down.


My dad is a Veteran Soldier,

who fought in a far off land.

He never asked for anything,

yet always lent a hand

in service to his country.

He did what he was told

in a place called Korea –

a kid out in the cold.


Vets much like my father

do their duty every day.

Often away from loved ones,

in the midst of dangerous fray.

Back home we often argue

bout the missions they embark –

while benefiting from their duties

with little thought for lasting marks.


Soon there will be much chatter

about the ending of the wars.

But, most Veteran Soldiers

say little of what they saw.

Be careful where you send them

for some won’t be coming back

from the mountains of Afghanistan

or the deserts of Iraq.


For those of us who benefit

by living in the U.S.A.

Please keep in mind the efforts

of Soldiers who went away.

They probably expect little.

They definitely deserve more.

Let’s make sure they’re taken care of

for they’ve seen the cost of war.

Wars, they end. Wars, they begin. Eventually relegated to history books they become myths and stories to be read about by children in school. The reasons for these conflicts will be debated. The generals will either be lauded or excoriated. But those who fought the daily grind will never make a page. Forgotten by time, but always in the hearts of those who awaited word back home. Remember the soldiers as long as you can.  They are a big part of our history, yet bigger still to those who hold them dear.

Robert Houghtaling, whose father is a Korean War veteran, grew up in Warwick and manages the East Greenwich substance abuse program.


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