To the editor:
I am not a veteran. I am someone who takes great interest in the world, people, issues great and small. I have followed with interest the path that Patriot Hills, now called Homeward Bound, has taken in trying to address the pernicious issue of finding a means to assist veterans, principally those returning from the most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I do not know the efficacy of the argument and concerns raised by the neighbors of the most recent proposed location for a program related to salving the harm veterans accrue in the performance of their duty. Their justification and concern may have been profoundly rational and above reproach. Regardless, this proposal has now met its demise. At this point in time, it may not matter where a program for veterans is proposed in this village. Too many more rejections and the toxicity of this environment will likely negate any further desire to create the most wonderous phenomenon that is so deeply ingrained in this community of healing - i.e., people trying to help others recover.
I have to say I think this concept is important perhaps beyond what we realize: important to us for jobs, important for veterans and their families who will benefit, important to those who may see this as a start and an example of what a community does when it finally demonstrates the level of concern and caring that equates to the level of the care and concern the veterans showed for us when they chose to serve. It will be inconvenient for neighbors of wherever this healing environment is created, with a change in the landscape and more cars going through. It may be inconvenient for the village if someone in this program becomes raucous and creates a problem downtown or the police need to intervene. It may be inconvenient if somebody new to the area gets lost on a hike. Undoubtedly these inconveniences will occur, as most of them already do. But let's pause and examine how these inconveniences measure up against what the inconvenience is for a veteran: Careers are put on hold; months and accumulated years are spent away from families and friends; if assigned to war zones, they risk their lives daily, witness comrades being injured, maimed or killed; they miss irretrievable, large parts of the lives of their children, ad nauseum. Now examine the inconvenience to us if they did not serve; how long could we exist as a free country with all the rights these veterans help preserve for us? And they do not pick and choose what rights they protect; they preserve them all.
So, I think we, Saranac Lake, have to find a place for veterans in need of healing treatment, healing friendship and a healing environment. Lifting them up will lift this town up.