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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 1, March 2019
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Colleen M. Farrelly
Miami, Florida, USA


Missing in Action

My nephews and I dug up another GI Joe today, long forgotten by the Naval base sandbox’s previous owners. Sometimes, we reintegrate them with a new unit, lining them up on the bedroom dresser; sometimes, they are medically retired from duty as toys and discarded. The last find was months ago, a group of five buried together. It’s only one today, probably separated from the others in a smaller sandbox mission. Grains of sand slip through our fingers as we search in vain for others nearby. There are always others out there, discarded toys and infantrymen unaccounted for in battle.

Yesterday, S., a former infantryman who was missing in action and a former prisoner of war, sits in the far corner of the VA waiting room – a 70-something guy sporting a Vietnam veteran hat and faded t-shirt. A stack of old magazines and Million Veterans Project pamphlets sit between him and the man next to him, also a POW vet. Those lost the longest in war often bear the fewest signs. The differences between combat and POW PTSD are subtle – lost reflexes as the fractures healed without medical care, a blank stare instead of panic attacks. The other patients and I file into the room for our peer counseling group. I pass S., staring at the Judge Judy case on TV as the nurse tries to call him to join us.

stalled robotic med cart—
trying to move past
traumatic memories

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