Documentary Says Disabled Veterans Can Still Serve

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Why Can’t We Serve is a documentary film in the making that asks a powerful question, "Why can't wounded warriors and people with disabilities serve in the military?"

Marty Klein wants to help answer this question. While serving in the U.S. Air Force in the early 1970s, Klein developed an eye disease, lost his vision, and was discharged.

“The first seven years of my life without sight was really hell, because I had to recreate my life without sight and I didn’t know who I was as a blind person,” Klein said. “It was really difficult. I just thought it was my problem. I did deal with it and I got lucky and I have a great life now."

His healing journey included both working at Omega and attending many Omega workshops. One of the weekends that had the most impact on him was a spiritual workshop with Ram Dass and Krishna Das.

“The sound of the harmonium played at night touched my heart,” he said. “I've been chanting and leading kirtan, evenings of sacred chanting, with my harmonium ever since.”

The blind veteran hopes his feature-length forthcoming documentary can create positive policy changes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses and corporations to hire people with disabilities with one exception—the U.S. military, which is not required to comply with the ADA.

He wants to offer hope and healing to discharged veterans with disabilities and shift the culture for people with disabilities in general.

“Fast forward from 1970 to now—veterans coming back, soldiers with wounds from combat are discharged out of the military and go home with a disability and no identity,” he said. “A lot of them are committing suicide—22 a day. It’s crazy. I believe that if more people were able to stay in the military there would be less suicide.”

More than 100 people attended a benefit concert in Klein's hometown of Woodstock, New York, in July to help raise money and awareness for filming the documentary. The night included a silent auction with in-kind donations from many local businesses and organizations, including Omega. 

Klein also believes that a policy change could open the door for all people with disabilities who could have the option to join the military in a non-combat position.

“There are so many jobs in the military done today on a computer, and most people with disabilities can handle computers just fine,” Klein said. “I wrote three books and two screenplays on the computer, and I’m blind. We can do these things.”

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