The Center for Veterans Engagement hosted their first veterans writing group meeting this weekend. The following is my writings from one of the composition exercises. This student organization will be holding more events through the semester, including other creative outlets for veterans such as comedy and music. Please help us spread the word.
Tears of Strength by Daniel Reichwein
Three years homeless. Three years alone. Three years dependent on others just to feed and house myself if I was lucky enough to have shelter. Three years of shame. Three years of failure. Three years and only one time did I cry.
I was sitting on a public bench four miles from the woodland tent I called home. I had just finished talking to my aunt and uncle, whom I had not seen in over six years. I told them how with the help of a case manager from a homeless support non-profit organization, I would be going back to college after twice flunking out of university while on full academic scholarship. I told them how this angelic case manager also helped me get the first real job I had in years.
Finally, after so much failure my life was headed back to where it was supposed to be – back to success, growth through education, and back to self-fulfillment. Through all the arrests with the police, the bad company I took as friends, protecting myself while on the street, the inertia of inaction to which I had succumbed, the bad places I slept, and the suffering from untreated bipolar disorder – through all this not once had I cried. But, at this moment I let all those emotions out at once. I let all that weakness go, but these were not tears of loneliness, shame, or failure. These were tears of strength.