by CJ Simrak
Editor’s Note: “The Soldier’s Christmas Poem” is a perennial favorite in the veteran community. The poem, often shared via social media this time of year, is a moving story that recognizes and celebrates the sacrifices freely made by service members. Havok Journal author CJ Simrak wondered what the poem would look like through the lens of the destructive and unseemly “dysfunctional veteran” subculture. And what CJ put together is… well, is nothing less than brilliant. Fellow vets, stop trying to be “dysfunctional” and just get on with your lives. This first appeared in The Havok Journal on December 16, 2018.
A DV Christmas story
Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one-bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
And to see just who in this home did live.
I looked all about a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots
and his “be courteous with fireworks” sign.
On the wall hung pictures of his trip to Epcot with DV 6.
With a good conduct medal and a fire watch badge, patches of all kind
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and dreary,
I knew I had found the home of a “dysfunctional vet,”
once I could see clearly.
I heard stories about them, I had to see more
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping silent alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.
His face like an adolescent going through puberty,
his room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier
or a grown-ass man for that matter.
Was this the Internet warrior of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, an air mattress his bed?
Below his chin lay a neckbeard, his face an artificial tan,
I soon understood this was a mediocre man.
I realized the eateries that I passed that night
Didn’t owe their free meals to these men willing to fight.
Soon `round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Despite this whiny entitled soldier lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home,
certainly not this one living off his 100% disability from Crucible PTSD.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye
that this asshole steals benefits from men who truly fought.
I dropped to my knees and started to cry out in anger
The soldier awakened and I heard a squeaky voice,
“Santa don´t cry, this life is my choice;
I fight for free meals, I sometimes ask for more,
DV life is my God, my country, my Corps.”
With that he rolled over and drifted off into opiate-induced sleep.
I couldn´t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still,
not a care in the world about the shirker he is now.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night´s chill
although I shouldn’t I took pity on this DV shill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
And I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
And I put on his T-shirt of gray and black,
With an eagle and an Army patch embroidered on back.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
And for a shining moment, I was United States Army deep inside.
I didn´t want to leave him on that cold dark night until he rolled over pointed and yelled:
“Stolen Valor! Take off that shirt before I kick your merry red ass!“
“Did I stutter Santa, it’s Christmas Day, leave my gift by the door and be on your way.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas you stain and to all a good night!
But before I left I leaned down to his ear and said in a voice the neighbors could hear
“You’re only entitled to what’s in your contract anything else is done out of the kindness of strangers you knobby boot” and
“Thank you for your service, see you next year.”
How’s all that “dysfunction” working out for you?