The former soldier grimaced for just an instant as he lowered himself into a Spartan metal chair opposite mine in this cramped space we shared. A chair like the one he’d lowered himself into for his monitored telephone call with his wife. Their relationship described in Hebrew scriptures as one in which they cling to each other, becoming “one flesh.” Separated here for legitimate security reasons by a thick sheet of glass. Those of us in “the biz” prefer to call that kind of visit a “no contact visit.” It just sounds a little better than “no human touch.”
Once he was seated, Henry and I greeted each other with mutual respect, but the veteran’s words were narrow and thin. He wore a state court detainee’s bright orange coveralls. But he couldn’t fill them out.
I glanced again at the booking photograph from six months earlier. And I looked back at this veteran. These couldn’t be the same person. They mustn’t be the same person.
Henry confirmed the basic facts that his wife had given me out in the lobby. He said he’d been arrested before. For the same thing. Henry told me it wasn’t that way before he was sent to Vietnam.
Charles Bloeser is the creator of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative that will continue to contribute to bridging the gap in experience, knowledge, and understanding that divides those who’ve never served under arms from those who have. He’s the civilian son and grandson of veterans and a lawyer who’s spent most years arguing criminal and constitutional issues in America’s state and federal trial and appellate courts. Among his published research are works re Libyan-supported Jihadi terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, civilian-military law enforcement relations in the U.S., and the demands that an increasingly complex national security environment make for special operations forces. His research agenda includes national security/defense/veterans issues, with special attention to those facing challenges from combat stress/PTSD/TBI etc.