This past Thursday was a mellow day for me, mainly due to a visit I made to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the Veterans Service Center at San Diego City College.
But I was already feeling pretty good before I got there, starting with being picked up by my girlfriend, if that’s what a 74 year old has. Anyway the ride, with that beautiful woman, on such a nice warm sparkling soothing easy San Diego day, had me ready for a good time.
Not to mention that it was nice to just cruise into a reserved parking place awaiting our arrival, the only space open, seemingly, for miles. That, in keeping with my upbeat mood, made me smile, because such a perk is not part of my lifestyle. Well, maybe every once in a while.
We walked up some stairs to the event and I looked upon a crowd of people who seemed to be in the same groove I was in, sporting smiles and grins. I shook a few hands and found a place to stand behind two young men who looked every bit of twenty-two or twenty-three years of age. Veterans of the War in Iraq. Remember that one? Shock and Awe and all that.
They seemed to be hanging loose, though, but if they happen to have issues emotionally, socially, or education-wise I got a sense from all I heard and saw that their needs would likely be tended to in the facility that was being celebrated.
I like what they’re doing in Room A-220 and when I left the center for my walk home, my workout for the day, up the B Street Hill to Golden Hill and South Park I remained in a cheerful frame of mind. I thought back on my personal history with City College, how I’ve over time, played a role there, rapping with students, sharing poetry and prose, protesting injustices of a range of kinds. One of my daughters, when she was there, wrote a popular funky little column for the City Times.
The morning had been one more in a long line of good times I’ve had at the school. How wonderful it is that they’ve created a safe haven for veterans, a place for them to transition back into civilian life.
Sometimes “Support our Troops” thinking gets too wrapped up in flag waving and hero worship while, out of sight, so many vets suffer in the shadows, still reeling from having seen things no human should ever have to see and having heard sounds no ears should ever have to receive.
But in this Veterans Service Center, thanks to the efforts of members of the school’s student Veterans for Peace, working with various members of the faculty, counselors and school administrators, a former member of the armed services can:
- obtain referrals to off-campus resources if that’s a need;
- avail themselves to tutors who can help them polish their computer literacy skills
and assess whatever unique skills they might possess;
- meet mentors who can help them navigate the ins and outs of campus life
and adjust to being back home;
- establish relationships with other vets to keep from feeling alone;
- just drop in and chill, in a quiet zone, in a place they can call their own.
Before I knew it I was back home, my old bones feeling exercised and energized, and I started in on a long ignored enterprise, clearing away a pile of magazines and papers and odds and ends that accumulated during a sad time and I later got into a laughing jag while watching the Daily Show, caught up in a spirit of just letting go, just letting life come to me, just going with the flow.
I ended the day feeling hopeful just knowing that good things are happening at a school I love, that deserving people are being tended to, that a better world is being made. I’d like to thank the Veterans for Peace for such a nice day.