Maybe a national dialogue on the cost of war will begin Friday, November 1, 2013 in San Francisco. The Summer of Love began here in 1967, but what we have in a few weeks is far from those gentle people with flowers in their hair, but then again not so far removed. Three combat vets will take center stage with moderator Congresswoman Jackie Speier. The event is called the “Art and Soul of Combat Veterans,” and it will be 60 minutes of talk not usually heard at the coffee table, or projected by the media. In one sense it is war to the core, in another, it is simply the journey people take when there is a detour that threatens their lives.

The congresswoman, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who is fully committed to end this political game called the “shutdown,” wants, as do I and so many other veterans, to have the public be more engaged in the cost of war, to understand its life-long ramifications and to question any call for global engagement, let alone, “boots on the ground.” She’d like this dialogue to occur without filters.Poster So, three combat veterans—two from Iraq and one from Vietnam—will speak from their hearts about what they went through and still go through for serving our country.

I’ve talked to each of these veterans. They have turned to writing, painting and photography to release the anxiety, the fears and other demons that are only natural to confront when the next corner you turn could be your last. But I’ve already said too much. Listen to them. Talk to them. Think about what we do to be a free democracy.

Ticket information can be found at this link: Also, the event will be recorded for public radio and put on line, courtesy of the Commonwealth Club. But to see the art, to talk to the vets, you have to be there.

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