Editor’s note: November 11 is Veterans Day, and VisionAware is honoring those who have served us with this special tribute from VisionAware Peer Advisor DeAnna Noriega. For further information, VisionAware has an entire section devoted to Veterans including services, resources, and personal stories about veterans with vision loss.
A Tribute to Veterans with Disabilities
I was born into a military family. My father was a Master Sergeant in the Army serving in Korea. Two of my brothers and two of my uncles were also in the Army. Two of my brothers-in-law served—one in Vietnam and one in Desert Storm. My stepbrother was a Marine; my stepfather was an Air Force Chaplin. One nephew served in Kosovo. Throughout history, Native American men and women have enlisted in various services from the Revolutionary War to the present. Native Americans have joined the military as a way to leave the poverty of the reservation and to prove their courage. At every Powwow, veterans are honored with special recognition.
We, in the visually impaired community, owe our veterans much in our increased mobility. Guide dogs were first trained in Germany to lead blinded World War I veterans. The long white mobility cane was developed here in the U.S. also to assist veterans to gain back their independent travel ability. Thinking of all these things led to my writing this tribute, which I wish to share on this Veterans Day.
Once you could mask fears with a uniform.
When you stood tall, they saw courage and strength.
You had brothers and sisters beside you.
Then came pain, anger, the loss and despair.
You wondered if you could bear the changes.
Society’s mirror can’t reflect you.
It shows only your disability.
You can’t accept yourself in that image.
You’re a soldier in a new battle zone,
A draftee in a war not of your choice.
But you don’t stand alone in this conflict.
You have comrades in arms to support you.
Some recruits joined the fighting at their birth.
They armored themselves with resolution.
Their weapons were determination and will.
They fight for equality not pity.
They challenge the walls of indifference.
Redefine what it means to be human.
They will protect your back wounded warrior.
You will always be welcome among us.