Re: Stewart Resmer’s Letter to the Editor, “Nothing to write home about,” Feb. 13.
What a heartfelt, beautiful and eloquent letter Mr. Resmer wrote on behalf of the veterans who have served this country and are then tossed aside. Thank you, Mr. Resmer for writing this letter.
Back in the 1970s I worked at Downey veterans hospital near Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois outside of Chicago. Downey was at the time the largest psychiatric veterans hospital in the U.S. It had over 3,000 patients. I worked on the alcohol treatment ward. The veterans that took part in the alcohol treatment unit were wonderful men and women who came for the help they needed. It was a fantastic experience working with them.
On the other wards were men and women who were receiving help with their psychiatric problems. Rarely on locked wards, I had contact daily with them as well and believe me, I could write a book about the interesting people I met there. Some were from WWII and even a few WWI veterans. We also had Korean and Vietnam veterans.
These men and women were treated with care and respect. They were clean and well fed. They had free smokes if they smoked. They had jobs and activities, as well as treatment.
Serving them was not always pleasant, but always interesting, and I used to wonder where these men and women would be if it weren’t for the hospital. Unfortunately, now I see where they would be, living on the street, sometimes with no shoes.
We can thank the Reagan administration for the program to systematically close the psychiatric hospitals and release the patients into the “community” to be cared for. Only there isn’t anyone in the community who stepped up to do so.
Surely, in this day and age and in this country, we can do more for our veterans who served their country and for the mentally ill everywhere.