From Goleta, the team continues southward into Santa Barbara. Spirits run high as we anticipate meeting up with elements of the VFP, Chapter 54 to be precise. We were able to get sanctuary at Trinity Episcopal Church, where we were allowed to choose our campspot on the church grounds. Yesterday we stationed our selves at Stearns' Wharf, SB's pier on the sparkling waterfront of the Pacific Ocean. It was nice to see the ocean again, it highlights the fact that we are now officially in southern California, half way to San Diego.
Chapter 54 was informed of our arrival well ahead of time, and despite freindly emails with one of the members, we waited all day in vain.
I had hoped that at least ONE of them would take a few minutes out of the day to meet us...the FLAG demands attention....no one has answered my repeated emails or phone calls.
So I says, I says, thats okay, we'll give em' til tomorrow, and I decide to check out the local Vet Mem/Building.
What I got there was little more chilling than the cold shoulder from a Chapter 54 member who declined to give me his name. SB has no Veteran ID service,no shelter connections, indeed very few available services for veterans. They seemed mostly interested in renting out the hall to the local hotels and motels for various GOVCORP shindigs like conventions and "employee holiday parties"....
As I looked around the place, looking UP at all those heroes on the walls, all the photos and memoribilia donated by vets and family members, I began to wonder:
"What would THESE men and women think about having their building sold out?"
A chilly reception indeed. I introduced myself, and asked some questiions about the local scene. They were either ignorant or tight lipped, it amounts to the same thing. The one crusty old timer starts ragging on me like I am some kind of kid about how I should "learn about the DMV" and how "we dont give money to anyone, ever" asks me if I am a vet and if I can prove it and such...
And I'm like :
"man I havent asked you for anything but your names and what services you provide, if there is anything we can participate in or assist with..."
So I leave, right, and this guy sideles up to me...."Got a smoke?" he says,
"Nah brother, help me with this one...."
We get to talking, and hes' Army strong, American Broke, living in his truck, and he goes on:
"Yeah, saw ya comin outta there looking a little bit pissed..."
"Man those guys gave me the HELLA cold shoulder, like I'm some kinda fuckin" joker.."
""Yeah" he continues."they just about treat all of us LIKE SHIT if we aint come from the same war...fuck those guys"
Wow. This inner vet discrimination thing is real, and all the orgs are run by these types....since we are so tripped out and confused about the situation in this country, some civilians seem to feel that supporting vets is supporting war...(good thoughts, twisted application) and the established, GOVCORP freindly groups are "grandfathered in" it makes it tough on the post Nam vet....to THIS day.
People who DID NOT support the wars, starting with Desert Storm feel the vets were a part of that debacle and ever since, and they are correct.
However when your disdain for war mestasizes into an apthy or disregard for those vets, you are clearly fucked, baby, and being anti war is just another signifier of your status quo hang ups....