The House with the Yellow Ribbon

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The House with the Yellow Ribbon
by Donna Teresa

There is a house affectionately know by children in a Salinas neighborhood as “the house with the yellow ribbons.”

Cars and walkers pass by it and usually give it a second glance. What many people do not realize, is that inside that house, is a family that has experienced more than most families have had to endure. It is a journey that many military families go through every day. The realities of life after a soldier comes home from war.

Alex Dietrich-Smith, Spec. 1. E4, Infantryman of the 10th Mountain Division, son of Al and Laura Smith, returned home last July from Iraq. He served more than three and half years in active duty.

Life back at home is different for him, “It’s good now that I’m home. I have a girlfriend, and I play drums in a band, so it’s pretty cool, but I’ll never be the same again. At first my adjustment wasn’t difficult, I grew out my hair and beard…

     

Then, I started to get flashbacks quite often and having some pretty bad anxiety. It’s not too bad now, as I’m starting to settle in civilian life. I think I had to just get used to the tempo change of my daily routines.”

Reflecting back on his time in Iraq, Smith certainly speaks with pride of the work he accomplished . “I’m proud that I was there and had the chance to go fight for my country. I didn’t exactly have fun doing it, but I was definitely proud that I was there.

Even though only a handful of people will ever see what I’ve seen and done what I’ve done.” With war also comes the possibility of death. “The worst part of being in combat is seeing your buddies get killed right in front of you, and knowing that you should have died along with them, but you just happened to get lucky,” says Smith.

A new veteran, Alex has concerns about healthcare for all the new veterans coming home.

“I would like to see improved emergency services for veterans. I have medical coverage through the VA, so I can’t complain about the benefits, but if I get sick in the middle of the night, when the VA clinic is closed, I have to go to the nearest hospital, and the VA won’t cover the medical bill unless it’s for a service-connected emergency. Otherwise, I have a large medical bill that I have to pay for.”

Smith’s message to Americans should be one that all should pay close attention to. “Well it seems to me, that everyone supports the troops in their own way.

Everywhere I look, I see someone with a “Support The Troops” sticker on their car. I’d like to thank everyone for all the support they gave me while I was in Iraq. My thanks to the people in my neighborhood for putting up yellow ribbons on their trees for me and the other soldiers.

I appreciate Vietnam veteran Sgt. James Silva from Salinas, for all the inspirational letters and the boxes of Girl Scout cookies he sent to me and my unit. I hope everyone will keep showing the support I was given, to the remaining troops that are still in harms way.”

The yellow ribbons on Alex’s tree remain as they have for the last three years. Personally, I will never look at another yellow ribbon in quite the same way again. They are a sign of hope in a time of uncertainty. This war is not over, and I believe the yellow ribbons, wherever they are, will still be hanging on someone’s tree, waiting, until every soldier comes home.


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