Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Thursday, April 24, 2014

V is for Veteran

Illustration by Mark Satchwill
Just when I'm getting crankypants about CNN pandering to the lowest common denominator, they blindside me with a story that just about broke my heart. You may have seen it--a brief report about a homeless Air Force veteran wo died in his van and has been unclaimed ever since. A former waitress is trying to raise the money to bury him somewhere other than in a pauper's grave. (It's unclear why the military isn't stepping in to provide Michael John Pardalis a resting place in a Veteran's cemetery, but the woman who is trying to raise money to bury her former customer does mention she needs to get a copy of a particular form. I remember that form. When my father died, we found it in a trunk full of apers pretty much by accident and if we hadn't had it, my father would not now be buried in Arlington Cemetery.)

At any rate, it's a moving story, which you can see here. And with the story there's once again a light on one of America's most shameful secrets--the way veterans are treated when they return from serving their country. My father werved in the war before the war before the one we're in now and the one before that as well. He came home from North Africa and went to law school and then re-enlisted in the Army's Judge Advocate Corps, building a career as an Army lawyer. He was already married when he saw overseas service in the Korean War and by the time the Viet Nam war was heating up, he had three children. He was offered a promotion if he accepted a transfer to Saigon but at that point, he and the Army parted ways and he (and we) settled down while he worked as a consultant for private citizens with claims against the government. Turns out (and I know you'll be shocked by this) that the government often makes promises to people that they don't keep. A lot of those broken promises are made to the men and women who serve in the military.

At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, there's an inscription that reads, "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." There are a lot of soldiers out there and God knows all their names and so do a lot of people. And every one of those soldiers deserves to rest in honored glory and not in an unmarked grave where they'll be forgotten.

The illustration here is by Mark Satchwill, who created it as part of our NoHo Noir storyline inspired by the murders that were then taking place in Southern California. The victims were all homeless people, several of them veterans. The illustration has haunted me for years. I think it's the most powerful thing Mark has done.


  1. What a sad story. The army really needs to step up and look after people who served.

  2. I agree. there are way too many stories like this.