Steak to Vet
Last night, I treated my girl to a fancy dinner. She ate some kind of fish while my teeth sunk into the thickest, juiciest, bloodiest medium-rare prime rib and a few sticks of green. I saved about four ounces, fascinating about a future sandwich.
The steak house was walking distance from her condo. On the way home, we enjoyed the cool night air and goofy conversation. When we walked by other couples, I made conversation that must have frightened passerbys.
“Yeah, baby, I don’t know what the rash on my butt is from, but it itches.” Or, “Are warts supposed to show up there?” My favorite, “The baby can’t be mine!”
I can entertain myself for hours and the great part is it makes my girlfriend laugh, but yesterday, the fun stopped when an African American man pulled up next to us on his bicycle. Wearing a worn out, red nylon coat, cargo pants and Pennzoil cap, he made small talk. He then reached inside his jacket and pulled out a red and white badge affixed to the long necklace around his neck. It was his VA card.
“I was in the Marine Corps,” the man proudly said.
“Right on, man, I was in the Army. Got back from Iraq in January,” I said.
“Yeah, f@ck that shit. They f%cked me up. I’m go#d#mned schizophrenic.”
He went on to ask where I was from, what do I do, etc. I think, he felt ashamed for his position and what he’d admitted.
I empathize with homeless veterans. Our society has no idea how difficult it is to come back after fighting a war. If a soldier doesn’t have a support system, friends and good family, he or she could easily fall into the cracks of our world and become jobless, divorced and homeless. Today’s soldiers are lucky there’s free counseling and other programs available, which weren’t for our Vietnam vets.
Needless to say, before he could ask, I reluctantly reached into my sack, pulled out my treasured steak and handed it over to my fellow veteran.
“Thanks, man. But I suppose you don’t have a couple dollars to spare?” the man asked.
“Sorry,” I lied.
I knew the steak would do him more good than any amount of money I had. And honestly, the beef was harder to give up. See, I can’t make a steak, tomato, basil, mozzarella sandwich out of a $5 bill.