Corinna Petry headshot
BY corinna petry
Beam of light

cannot know war or anything like it, not up close. I have been spared. Sometimes, only poetry can distill the sense of loss, and the pain those who survive war might feel. Here are excerpts from “Phantom Noise,” by poet Brian Turner, who is known for his writing about the Iraq war.

There is this ringing hum

This bullet-borne language, ringing shell-fall ….

This wing-beat of rotors and tanks broken

Bodies ringing in steel

Ringing this eardrum, this rifled symphonic

This ringing of midnight in gunpowder and oil

This brake pad gone useless

This muzzle-flash singing

This threading of bullets in muscle and bone

This ringing hum, this ringing hum, this ringing.

Veterans who have seen conflict, who have been injured, whose bodies were broken, often need help that cannot be given by family or even medical professionals. One place they can go to share life experiences and make new—good—memories is Iron Horse Farms near Marion, Alabama. Run by Justin Kane, president of Kane Steel and Iron, and his family, the property features a lake stocked with bass, beautiful woods, comfortable cabins and home-cooked meals. The farm hosts groups of veterans for extended weekends of hunting and fishing, campfires and—most importantly—talk among peers. (For more, see Page 24.)

Brian Fulford, a retired Marine sergeant, has said, “The farm is the only place besides my home that I can lay my head down at night and feel safe.”

Patrick Skinner, a retired soldier, testifies, “When I go back home, my wife has told me I seem at peace. It has really helped our relationship a lot. I have learned about the outdoors, and being a part of the retreats is a country boy’s dream.”

Jeremy Cook, also retired from the U.S. Army, states, “St. Michael’s Iron Horse Charities changed my life. This is a place that puts everything into Wounded Warriors and veterans.”

According to Kane, many of the veterans arriving at the farm have PTSD or other injuries. When they arrive, some participants “are really quiet and almost standoffish. Then they start talking with one another,” and by Sunday when the retreat ends, “they act like they have been friends for 20 years. That’s the beauty of it,” he says, “because they struggle [in daily life] and now they can reach out to someone when they are in a dark place.”

Kane isn’t alone in this. He has volunteers, including other veterans, who help the guests at the farm by moving them to tree stands for hunting, out to piers to fish, and who field dress the harvested animals. Several major steel companies, including Nucor Corp., O’Neal Industries, Steel Dynamics Inc., Central States Manufacturing and Atlas Tube, donate money and in-kind goods, such as galvanized roofing and material to make products Kane Steel sells to raise cash for the charity.

There are many men and women who need for us not to forget their sacrifice. Justin Kane and his wife, Meg, and their retreats honor our heroes. We thank them for that.

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