So, once upon a time...

Isn't that how all good stories begin?

But this isn't a fairy tale. This is harsh reality. This is happening all over America. The "Land Of The Free"... Because of the Brave. They don't complain much, they made the choice to serve. They took the oath. But somewhere along the way, "Home" wasn't what they came back to. The benefits, the job placement, interviews, trying to bridge the gap, the counseling, the groups, the nights...

"Less than a quarter moon visible... stars should be coming out soon...The dampness sinks its teeth into me, gently at first...teasing me, but the breeze brings new urgency to it, like cold fingers of a new lover, probing at my neck, sending chills down my spine... "

Grab a couple hours sleep when you can, pull your jacket tighter, and hope the sprinklers don't reach you... or the ants. You don't remember the last time you slept well, or were warm, or felt safe, or clean. Just wish the pain would go away... Physical pain you can deal with. The pain of regrets, disappointment, loneliness, unbearable at times.

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You wonder for the 20th time, tonight, how did you get here? In your twenties, you had it all. New car, a house, a wife, status, uniform, medals, tattoo, career. Now in your 40s, you have a tattered blanket, a sheet of plastic, your K-Bar, and an old parachute bag. Which was the dream, or reality? You pull the note out of your pocket again. Its barely legible, the ink fading.

"Hi, not sure if you're interested, but maybe we could talk. Come by any time, as you are. We're a friendly group, no pressure. Get cleaned up, checked up, and warmed up. On your terms, no judgement. Doors are always open, you can leave anytime you wish. We speak your language. We are your brothers and sisters."
... Sigh... maybe tomorrow. Now, its cold. The demons are back.

A "fictional" story, told from the perspective of a Navy Veteran, who's just trying his best to get things together... again.