To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I am a son of Berkshires of blood and spirit. I am also a veteran of multiple tours in Iraq who after returning once sought help with Rosanne Frieri in her office as veterans’ agent located in Pittsfield’s City Hall. I had been augmented through the Individual Ready Reserve and attached to the 82nd Airborne Infantry. My military occupational specialty was light infantry, and I spent night after night closing with and destroying the enemy on his own territory.
Images of godless violence against myself and my comrades still haunt every night. I know the smell of burnt flesh, I know what it’s like to wash the blood of a teammate out of the Humvee and see a picture of his family run out. I know the pressure of a plate cracking in my armored vest and I’ve felt the intense heat and pressure of an IED so close that I’ve been lifted of my feet and lost consciousness.
I also know the expendable feeling when you are attached to a real combat unit and continually placed in harm’s way because your death would be a minimal impact on the morale of the unit. And I know what it’s like to return home, to be placed on a plane and sent back home, unnoticed and left to fend for myself. But I was home and safe, right? I came home mentally damaged to a failing marriage I did not know how to fix and the death of my paternal figure (my grandfather). I was a scared veteran father of two children with no clue how to fix himself or his life.
The abrasive candor I felt that day towards me was horrible. I felt unwanted, minimalized, and further more unwelcomed by her rude tone. She was nothing more than an administrative bully to me that day, citing that she was a combat veteran just like me and I needed to respect her authority. Mrs. Frieri, you are NOT a veteran like me and I wouldn’t wish my pains upon anyone. I am a true combat veteran. I had no answers and quickly realized I would not get any help from this lady. It took every ounce of being that day not to close her door and show her what we call in the infantry "wall to wall counseling and attitude adjustment."
I left that day feeling hopeless, empty and bullied. There is a Glock .45 handgun that sits about 40 feet out from the Onota pier at its 11 o’clock that can attest to that. It has my saliva on the barrel and my tears on the sight rail. No one deserves those feelings. I’ve witnessed her callous and rude attitude with other veterans with so much empathy for their pain. For her to hide behind the cowl of being a victim and advocate she’s being bullied is an absolutely shallow act as a veteran who has bullied so many REAL soldiers.
I am now receiving much mental support from the VA in Pittsfield and their caring staff. I’m also a respected student leader at Berkshire Community College. I am proud of my resilience. I am proud to stand as a veteran today and say to Mrs. Frieri, you are not the victim you claim to be. May Karma be kind unto you, because I would not.