I practiced and practiced with the platoon until each of us had a chance to dress a chest wound and a head wound just like the book said.There was a lot to learn in the 10 weeks of basic training, most I was completely unfamiliar with. I had never fired a weapon before, any kind of weapon, and the Army trusted me with an M-16! I was thrilled when I qualified as an Expert with it.
I only got close to two or three girls in basic, and I kept in touch for a few months, but we each landed on our feet far away from one another, so it seemed rather pointless to write. (Yes, this was before email was a twinkle in anyone’s eye!)
It wasn’t long before I began to build a very special relationship with a soldier there with a history in Vietnam. Together, we marveled at the dancing Northern lights, the enormous star blanket & and the largely virgin landscape. We used to lie down on the hood of his truck and watch the Northern Lights by the hour, even in bitter cold temperatures, the heat from the engine warmed us.
Generally speaking, he was not a “talker,” but once in a while, he would talk about his experience in Vietnam. He would finger his “dog tags” as he spoke, recalling the dreariness and the beauty of the Vietnamese landscape. He reminded me that among the other information on the dog tags, is the blood type of the soldier. He talked about the booby traps he encountered and the explosives he had to neutralize or defuse – and those he never had the chance to. Repeatedly, in these times, he would say that the only thing he ever wanted was to come home.I asked him, too, about that day, the day he returned to US soil. 1968 it was. Like many of our service members, he was spat upon and was the object of tomatoes and bottles. “Kill the heroes,” the grungy youth shouted. “Kill the killers!” Tears silently filled his eyes. I just squeezed his hand.
To this day I cannot fathom how that must have felt. What a horrendous, shameful thing to have done to our national Heroes. Certainly a shameful time in America’s history. But what about now?
How do our heroes feel today? News of the wars is largely ignored. Millions and millions of soldiers have returned home and now stand in the unemployment lines. The same outrageous numbers of PEOPLE are victims of government backlog that leaves the medically untreated, psychologically placebo’ed, and generally, unappreciated and left to flounder. They ask for nothing more than what their contracts promised, what they earned in danger’s way!
“If a government shutdown continues through the end of October, the Veterans Affairs Department said it will have to cut off disability and education benefits payments, which could cause financial devastation to veterans, according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“Veterans Benefits Administration claims processors will continue to handle disability and education claims during a shutdown, VA said. The department employs roughly 19,000 claims processors.
“VA has excepted VBA claims processors so that it can continue to process claims and beneficiaries will continue to receive their payments,” VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon said. “However, those benefits are provided through appropriated mandatory funding, and that funding will run out by late October. At that point, VA will be unable to make any payments.”
“VA will only update its main Web page and hospital Facebook and Twitter feeds intermittently during a shutdown, the department said in a fact sheet. VA also said it will furlough its entire public affairs staff during a shutdown.
“Call centers for disability claims will operate during the shutdown, but VA said it will close the education benefits hotline. VA will also not operate provide matriculated vets with on-campus counselors.
“The 152 hospitals, 800-plus clinics and 300 vet centers operated by the Veterans Health Admninistration, funded by multi-year appropriations, will continue to operate, VA said. VHA employs roughly 250,000 people who would continue to work and draw pay during a shutdown.
One innovative Veteran took unemployment as a mission. “Tristan Williamson has been out of the military for five years, but he’s back in a platoon.
“This time, the Navy veteran is fighting hunger, not the enemy.
“Williamson’s platoon — 20-plus veterans, already at work on community gardens in San Diego — is among the first of what Mission Continues officials hope will be dozens of neighborhood outreach groups led by veterans.
“The nonprofit group launched its new service platoons initiative this week. Officials have dubbed it a veterans’ report-for-duty call, with veterans trained in charitable work leading chapters in 30 cities.
“It’s an extension of the group’s existing goal of engaging veterans through community service, often in areas with limited military presence and even less knowledge of the challenges troops face returning to civilian life.
“The idea of second service for veterans has emerged as a theme in recent years, with the first combat generation of the all-volunteer force slowly leaving the military but retaining ideals of civic duty.” More HERE