War Vet Alan Cutter on “the profound disquiet of the wounded soul”

Alan Cutter is a Presbyterian reverend who served in the US Navy from 1969-1975. He also worked as teacher at the Naval Academy Preparatory School and is currently a member of the International Conference of War Veteran Ministers.  He wrote Learning to come home from war: no one said ‘thank you’ to Vietnam vets for The Guardian.

What has not changed over the centuries is the profaneness of war; the frustration of returning to a society preoccupied with mindless vicarious thrill seeking, enthralled by “reality” shows; the loneliness one feels even in the midst of a crowd; the terror of the unexpected sight or sound or smell; the rage so easily triggered; and the profound disquiet of the wounded soul.
I am waiting for someone to say “Forgive me?” That question both admits complicity for what happened and initiates a conversation. I’d like to tell that person this: my friend, we share responsibility. I’m proud to have served my country, even if it meant going to Vietnam. I’m sinfully proud of having been both an enlisted man and an officer. I did my best in an untenable situation. But I wasn’t prepared for the haunted eyes in the refugee camp, or the cries of the wounded, or the angry, wary stares of the villagers. Forgive us, yes, if that will ease your mind. But if you will stay and listen to the story, then together we may find salve for our wounded souls.

Thus begins the risky pathway of healing. Will you, beloved and fortunate citizen, do that duty for some returning warrior who has served our nation?

Read in full here.

— DS



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