Elderhaven Vets Reflect on Own Experiences, America’s Future

Bruce Kravitz is  the Community Education Director at AGE.  In addition to helping caregivers find resources and information in the Caregiver Resource Center, each Monday and Friday,  he facilitates meetings for men who attend Elderhaven of Travis County, our Adult Day Program.  During the hour long sessions, they have serious as well as humorous discussions about aging, romance, health, politics, religion, sports, and whatever strikes their fancy that day.  The men love this special time that is reserved just for the men of Elderhaven and a strong camaraderie has developed since they first started meeting in June of 2008.

At the Elderhaven men’s group today, we discussed war in general and then talked about our country’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Of the dozen men we  had today, nine of them had served in the military.   Because of their former military service, I thought that the men would overwhelmingly be in favor of our participation in these wars in order to keep the free world safe from terrorism.  But, boy, was I wrong!  Nearly all the men said  that they had personally experienced the horrors of war (WWII and Korea, for most of them) and suggested that all other peaceful means should be employed before using force.  If force was necessary, selective use of the military was better than all out invasions of large amounts of troops.  They also expressed concerns about the monetary cost of war and how wars contributes to the growing national debt that our grandchildren will have to bear.  Their views on war initially surprised me but I guess it made more sense once I thought about it and how their own personal experiences had affected their views.    During our discussions, some of the men recounted their war memories (including seeing some of their closest buddies wounded or killed) and this proved to be a very emotional experience for all of us.  There were a few watery eyes but some of the men kept their deepest feelings to themselves as we sat in reflective silence after listening to some of the more horrific stories.   At the end of the meeting, I thanked the men for sharing their personal opinions and stories and I knew that the relationships between the men in our group had just been strengthened.

-Bruce Kravitz

Community Education Director

Austin Groups for the Elderly

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