It is hard to put into words exactly what PCVI offers to ALL of us involved in it. This class is far more than just the study of war throughout the ages or looking at pretty pictures or sculptures. PCVI is a class that requires everyone involved to be introspective in ways we were too afraid, unable, or unaware to try before. It is a class that cares nothing about your race, religion, or political affiliation. It cares about us on a human level, something that is missing from the society in which we return to. When we come home, we are expected to act like we did NOT serve. The expectation is that we will seamlessly reintegrate with society, fit in, and move on as though however much time we served is but a distant memory of a story someone once told. Our families hope and expect us to be the people they remembered, as though our life’s journey has seen no shadows, only sunlight and rainbows. The truth is also that it is far from easy for us to talk about these things. Sometimes we cannot, we will not, or we do not know how any more or less than you do. We may want to talk, even if it is not to tell of events, but to talk about our thoughts and feelings developed as a result of those events. The Providence Clemente Veteran’s Initiative is our path to get there. Here, we can begin to build bridges with each other, and mend our fences and then traverse those bridges back in the ways we all hope for. Thanks to the PCVI, I am finally, after a decade post-service, beginning to not feel ashamed of it and have my parents here tonight as the start of what I hope will be the rebuilding of our bridge… if we do not advocate for the Providence Clemente Veteran’s Initiative’s continuance, our brothers and sisters in service may never be able to find the puzzle their piece belongs to, and we could lose them to addiction, disease, or violence.
There are times the class can be difficult for us…But at the same time, I firmly believe the catharsis available from getting in touch with ourselves and our thoughts/feelings in ways we may not be used to can be helpful beyond the understanding of those that write the checks. The fact is, the PCVI class offers us things that we cannot find elsewhere….a connection to not only the past and soldiers of yesterday, but to ourselves and our brothers and sisters in arms that feel as lost as we do. It affords us the chance to really explore the depths of humanity and war, the ramifications on societies that themselves are unaware of the effects.
I’m truly thankful for this class and everyone in it, no matter how hard it can be at times. Introspection is not easy, but it is necessary for self improvement and growth.