Thank you for being here today. I am grateful to people like you who will help veterans like me continue to have safe spaces to share our stories.
I appreciate you listening to what I have to say.
Speaking in Oak Park about Peace on Mother’s Day weekend reminds me of a good veteran buddy named Jacob David George. Jacob was an army veteran who did 3 deployments to Afghanistan. He returned home and became a peace activist like myself.
Jacob would often question why poor farmers from the US were being sent over to kill poor farmers in Afghanistan while people starved across the planet.
I ask that everyone keeps his mother in their thoughts this weekend because Jacob is no longer with us in a physically form.
I ask everyone to remember the name Jacob David George.
This weekend find time to google the name Jacob David George.
Make a committment to listen to one of his songs.
He rests in peace because his soldier’s heart couldn’t take it anymore.
He was one of the 8,000 veterans in 2014 that committed suicide in the US.
In one year alone, there are more suicides among the veterans population than there are combat related deaths among US military personnel in both Iraq and Afghanistan since 911.
Since returning from my 8 days in Guatemala with Patch Adams this past October, Jacob comes to my thoughts more often.
I was one of the lucky ones who got to participate in the first ever all veterans clowning humanitarian trip to Guatemala.
Patch Adams, a medical doctor had this crazy notch he could cure suicidal ideations among the 10 veteran participants by taking us down a path of peace, love and compassion.
I stand before you today because he was successful in retraining my brain to love.
You see the military teaches us just the opposite.
My time in Guatemala showing love and compassion to complete strangers was tranformative.
I miss Jacob more often because he tried for years to heal himself from his military traumas. He returned to Afghanistan as a civilian without a weapon to meet with young Afghan peace activist.
He participated in warrior dances, vision quests, sweat logs, healing retreats, tried different types of energy work and just about any other type of healing anyone would bring to him. Jacob also tried the VAs cognitive processing therapy which is noted to be the top of the list to treat Post Traumatic Stress, even though he already rode his bicycle 8,000 miles cross-country and shared his music and stories of moral injury over and over again.
Jacob was also one of nearly 50 veterans who threw their medals back with me during the NATO protest in 2012.
Jacob did not get to clown with Patch Adams like I did last year. I find myself wondering what if…
What if Jacob was able to participate in an all veterans clowning humanitarian trip? Would he be speaking somewhere today like I am and asking people like I will to question what would this world look like if instead of weapons, we manufactured more clown noses?
I am a strong believer that love and compassion is what this country needs to heal from the traumas of war. Since the birth of this nation, the US has only seen 21 years without war. That puts the US at over 90% of its time dehumanizing a group of people somewhere over there. Veterans are coming home and realizing we cannot be the small percentage of the population who holds their burdens.
So again thank you for listening. Thank you for being on the side of pece. Thank you in advance for when you make time to listen to music by Jacob David George and for when you make time to rememeber his mother. She would appreciate you as well.
Navy Veteran and Chicago Veteran For Peace. Speech given on Saturday May 7, 2016 at the Oak Park Mother’s Day event hosted by Mothers & Others for Peace.
To watch here speech click here and start at 6 minutes 53 seconds.