I've now been to five Occupations. My plans were made months ahead of time and the Occupy movement lasted long enough to meet me in a couple of east coast cities. It was there I kept on running into Iraq vets sleeping in public parks. So for Veterans Day, I wrote about these guys who signed up to serve overseas and are now fighting at home for The Atlantic:
At Occupy DC, a painting of Scott Olsen in uniform is draped on the side of a tent. He's become a symbol of the Occupation Movement -- he fought overseas only to be injured when exercising his "freedom" of peaceful assembly at home. His name has become a shorthand to talk about why so many vets are at Occupy Wall Street.
"There's a reason Scott Olsen got shot in the head," says Patterson, looking down at his chain-restaurant hot cocoa. "Because he was out front."
Patterson still sports a military haircut and a bit of the Army swagger. He also has a touch of that telling hyper-awareness war vets sometimes display; he's a little twitchy, a little intense. He tells me he has PTSD and has been self-medicating with weed. He says it helps. What's also helped is being a part of this protest movement. "This is the only peaceful solution," he says. "If this movement doesn't work, our country is not going to make it ... We're just not going to make it." Patterson became an interrogator in Iraq straight out of high school. His mother had to sign his enlistment papers. He turned 18 in Basic. "We're an industrialized nation who's a third world country. The super wealthy elite pretty much control our democratic process and everyone here is pretty much fighting for scraps and that's not right," he says.
Read the whole piece here.