Yeah. The caller ID said “Iraq&Afghanis” with a 212 area code, so I picked up, figuring it was a request for donations. I was all ready to say, thanks for calling, and I give every month, and will give again this month once Lord Bezos finally decides on Monday, December 15th what my pay rate was for all the work I sold in November.
Instead, the gentleman on the other end of the line told me that he wasn’t calling to ask for anything. He was a veteran, who’d served in Afghanistan, and he and his wife (also an Afghanistan vet) were in New York City on holiday to see “Christmas in the city.” IAVA had helped them out on their return home, and they’d stopped in the IAVA offices to make some calls to donors and thank them.
Well, I was flabbergasted. He and I talked for about 20 minutes. I told him about my dad’s Army career and how the Pacific fucked him up, and how that impacted a lot of my decision to try and help today’s vets – in my dad’s time, you came home if you had psychological issues, everyone just said, well, you have all your arms and legs, what you bitchin’ about?
I won’t give too much up, since I certainly wasn’t in the frame of mind to ask permission to use his name, but he told me he was a writer, and which point I said, I’m a writer, too. And then I just thought, you know, fuck it, if he’s a writer he’s probably not gonna have a cow about the gayness. So I told him all about “A Little Too Broken” and how that was where the money I sent to IAVA was coming from. And he in turn told me about a friend of his, a gay veteran and poet, Charlie Bondhus, whose work you can find here. Yeah, buy it direct mkay, help out this small press 🙂
I told him about my decision to donate 50% of the profits because, well, it just didn’t feel like Tom’s half of the story belonged to me. That it would feel like…war profiteering if I just took that and used it to make myself some bank.
He told me that it wasn’t true that those who hadn’t fought couldn’t write about war. The wars we’ve been in for thirteen years and counting have affected all of us, so all of us have something to say about the experience.
And to be honest, I was just…stunned by the whole thing. All I could do was thank him for calling me (and thank him for his service, and talk about “thank you for your service,” which if you’ve read ALTB you know my feelings about people who think just saying that is all they have to do to support veterans), and talk about what a brilliant idea it was for an agency to reach back to donors, blah blah. I was just…very cerebral about the whole thing, reaching for purely rational responses. It was only after the call that the whole thing hit me in the feels and I was overwhelmed by the emotions, and realized I’d been avoiding them the whole time I was talking to him. I mean, you know me – I’m not gonna say any “it touched my heart” shit. I’m gonna say it hit me in the feels 🙂
Yeah. It was definitely one of the coolest thing that’s happened to me as a result of “A Little Too Broken.” And yeah, to be cerebral again 🙂 it’s a great experience as a donor – you find an agency, you send your money down the rabbit hole, you get a form letter of thanks, and you cross your fingers and hope it’s going where it’s supposed to. But to hear directly – directly! from someone who’s benefited from your donation. Wow.