Sunday, March 30, 2014
ALWAYS a list of blog topics!
The list as it stands now is Rolly Brook, www.rollybrook.com; Age is just a number; Employing workers in Mexico; Weather is changing; Gratefulness; and on and on. Just about the time I work myself through the list,something else happens and I add to the possible blog post list.
Today, I'm going to write about WARS! Not just any war but the Vietnam War. Not a topic you would expect me to write about since usually my topics relate to my wonderful life in Mexico. In San Miguel or whatever the heck I decide to write about, which is usually positive.
However, something happened last night that has caused me to write this post. I had a very deep, personal conversation with a Vietnam veteran. He is 69 years old. It was very poignant. It was similar to many conversations I've had with many other Vietnam veterans over the years.
My connection with Vietnam vets began when I worked for Evergreen Helicopters starting in 1979 shortly after my husband's death. Many of the pilots that I interviewed and hired had been pilots in Vietnam. Most of them in fact, from all branches of the military. Not only did I hire pilots but I hired avionics, A&P mechanics and all the other ancillary people needed to keep those difficult rotary wing planes in the air.
Many of them became good friends to me and to my children. They became great friends who took them fishing or out to eat or just hung out around our house to add some male attention to their lives. I was always grateful. I've stayed in touch with many of them. Some to this day are like brothers.
As our friendships grew, many confided in me, much to my amazement the horrors they had witnessed and experienced in that war. Many had emotional issues from those experiences. They attempted to deal with them quietly and in the best way they could. Even that many years after the ending of the war, these men were still not seen by many as heroes. Quite the opposite. It was so unfair.
Fast forward to the late 80's. I met and became involved with a man who had been a POW in Vietnam for six years. He lived in a bamboo cage for all those years of his capture. Even though he was over six feet tall, he learned to sleep with his limbs tucked under his torso so he fit into the cage. Needless to say, in the time we were together there were many times that these horrors came to the forefront. He was an incredibly talented custom golf club maker and an extremely intelligent witty person. However the demons would take over and he would disappear for long periods of time. It was so sad to me to see the destruction of this man who was filled with guilt for his lost fellow Navy Seals and his wish that he had died with them. His battles have stayed with me all these years in my mind. I don't even know if he is still alive. I've tried to find him.
There have been others and the stories are about PTSD, failed marriages, alcohol and drug abuse, disinterest from the VA, along with much, much more. It's a human tragedy that is not over!, even now.
I once stopped and talked to men living on the streets in San Francisco. Three of them were Vietnam vets who had no visible means of support and nowhere to go. It made me cry, both in sadness and anger. Many of them are still out there.
I got really mad last night thinking of all the lost years of life for all of these men who went overseas as idealists, ready to do their duty for their country, who had their lives changed, not for better by a war that wasn't even possible to win. A disgrace, in my humble opinion.
It's no different with the recent "undeclared wars" that have happened since then. Lost limbs, lost lives and lost futures. At least these recent "undeclared wars", the returning soldiers have been honored as heroes and received respect. However, even today, there are many, due to PTSD and injuries that don't have a normal life.
I guess my bottom line is this. WHEN are we ever going to learn that we don't have to fight battles for others at the expense of the lives of our citizens, both men and women? And WHEN are we going to learn the ways to help those who gave so much for us? Lip service doesn't get it. Does it?