A very well done video. I have every intention of living as long as I can despite the problems I've gotten from agent orange exposure ;D VA did it again, denied all but one of my claims. I can see this is going to be an uphill battle, but I think I've got enough juice to wait them out
Delay,Deny, and wait till I Die. I guess they only have a few more years.I do however have a Compensation and Pension hearing on April 8th which has taken 1 year to get but still do not have my Medical or Personnel records.
Hang in there Chuck. Dont ever give up
Last Edit: Mar 30, 2010 6:25:53 GMT -6 by freebird
There is a YouTube video making the rounds that I would like to talk about today - sort of. The video is called "Before they go" and it is a kind of warning that our Vietnam Vets are dying off rapidly, and we need to give them a proper "Welcome Home" before they are gone. But I would like to turn that around and talk about, not what people need to do for the Vietnam Vet, but what the Vietnam Vet should do "before we go.
It's a fact that the Vietnam Veterans are dying at younger ages than the general population. Addictions and mental problems leading to homelessness, cancers and other diseases directly or indirectly related to the war, incarceration, all of these factors combine to kill the Vietnam Vet too soon. They are dying in their 60's instead of their 80's as others do.
I am at the tail end of that group - one of the "youngest" veterans of that era. I was only 18 in 1972 when I left high school and joined the Army, by which time most of the friends I have today had already served in Vietnam and come home again. I was trained for jungle combat in the swamps of Louisiana , but by the time I finished AIT it was all over. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on who you talk to.
My brother David was a couple years earlier than I, joining the Air Force in 1969. He too, as an Air Force military policeman, missed being sent to Vietnam . Instead his overseas tour was spent in Taiwan .
I talk about David today because he is a member of that generation of veterans, and because it is exactly one year ago today that he died. He was only 57 and when he succumbed to cancer, leaving an empty place in the hearts of his family members and the world short one hero.
David served his country his whole adult life. As I mentioned, he joined the Air Force in 1969 and served for four years as a military policeman. After the Air Force he remained near Washington D.C., where his last duty station was, becoming a policeman in the Prince George 's Country police department and starting his family.
Later, David became a member of the Secret Service, and did bodyguard duty for such political luminaries as Brezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor. At about the same time he began to teach evening college classes in a Maryland Community College , and he continued in that capacity until his death, over 30 years.
He also joined the Navy Reserves, where he rose to the rank of Lt. Commander, and was an NCIS agent (Naval Criminal Investigative Service).
As an NCIS agent David was put in harm's way in many world hotspots, such as Ireland , Saudi Arabia , Panama and others. He used to get a kick out of telling me that if he told me exactly what he was doing there he'd have to kill me.
I am not the only person who has lost a loved one from that generation of veterans...far from it.. Virtually every one of you reading this can relate to what I am saying. Life is a series of losses - everything good, ends. It is when a good thing ends before its time that we grieve most, and that is why these Vietnam Veteran statistics are so tragic.
The statistics are startling. Of almost three million Americans who served in Vietnam , there are only 800,000 left alive today. 58,000 names are eteched into the Wall. Since then, 130,000 more have committed suicide. Cancer, poverty, addiction, mental illness and chronic homelessness and crime have taken the lives of the rest. Statistically, 16 die every hour, 390 each day. If you extrapolate from there, in the year 2015, five years from now, there will be no more Vietnam Veterans left alive.
Now, that's a bit harsh. I intend to be here in five years, and most of the folks I know from that era do too. But I want to take the point of the video and turn it around. Rather than talk about what needs to be done FOR the Vietnam Vet before they go, I want to talk about what WE need to do for others before WE go. We need to decide what is to be our legacy - the Legacy of the Vietnam Era Vet. I don't pretend to speak for all veterans of my era - certainly not the combat vets - but I know a lot of them and I know that many feel the way I do.
It is no longer about us...our time is past. We were then and then is gone. It is too late for those Vietnam Vets who are locked in the prison of pain and poverty and addiction to be rehabilitated. It is too late to turn it around and take a stab at living a "normal," productive life for those now living in the streets. The claws of their monstrous addictions are dug too deep, their minds are too far gone. The most that we can do for them now is to help ease their pain. Those of us who were spared from the dark pit of homelessness and addiction and mental illness, we can give them one hot meal, give them a safe and warm place to sleep for one night, give them access to social services that can also help in that way.
And when you serve that one hot meal to that homeless veteran, tell him quietly that he has earned this meal through his service to his nation. Let him know through your actions that his dignity is intact - this is no hand-out, it is only his due. You cannot restore his health, but you can restore his human dignity, if only for one night.
So give us no charity. A "welcome home" is nice but that's not necessary either. What IS necessary is what WE need to DO, "before we go." There are two things above all else that we must do before we go:
1. Make peace with those who did not fare as well as we. Contact your local Veteran's Administration office and find out where the nearest veteran's shelter, soup kitchen, or Stand Down is, and go there and volunteer. Give of yourself and your time to help those Vietnam Veterans who are worse off than you are to ease their pain, to make their last days a little more comfortable and dignified. Do that on a regular basis, but ask for nothing in return - not even a "welcome home." Remember - you can't save him. You CAN fill his belly tonight.
2. PAY FORWARD. Unless you are a researcher and come up with a cure for cancer, this is the most important thing that you will ever do - it's what the WWR is all about. Today's warriors are fighting an increasingly dangerous and violent war in Afghanistan. This summer will see a major offensive in Kandahar . Tens of thousands of Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen will be put in harm's way. Our time is over. Their time is now.
I see it as our duty to ensure that today's warriors do not become tomorrow's homeless - addicted and suicidal. It is up to us - the Vietnam and post-Vietnam Era veterans. It is too late for us as a generation of veterans to save ourselves, but we can use the lessons of our loss like a beacon in a storm to warn the current generation of veterans away from dashing their lives on the rocks. That is our duty as Americans who once were soldiers - it is not optional.
As a member of the Warriors' Watch, I have done many welcome home events for individual warriors and units. Sometimes the warrior of our attentions will ask what he can do to repay the kindness just shown to him. Even if not, I try every time to take the warrior aside and tell him to pay it forward. That's all we want. Pay it forward.
When we are gone, and you, today's warrior, feeling the wear of years and wondering where your youth went, think back and remember what we did for you and what that meant to you. Then go to a member of that day's generation of warrior and look into his eyes. When you see fear and loneliness there, tell him that you understand, that you have been there and you know, that you support him and believe in his mission, that you are thankful for his/her service. Whatever war is being fought in that time, show that warrior the devotion that we show to you today. You, young warrior - take the future warrior aside and tell him that you were afraid, that it is normal to be afraid, and that you know he is afraid. Tell him what you know – that courage is not the absence of fear, courage is doing what you have to do even when you are afraid. Tell him that you honor and respect him for his courage.
That is what you can do to thank us - just pay it forward. If you do that, our actions here today will not have been for nothing. Rather, our actions today will reach out into the future to touch a new generation of heroes, spreading compassion long after our bodies are dust. The affect that we have on the way you treat our future warriors is payment enough.
Even when my country turned against me, I served proudly, and with honor. You serve with honor today, and those not yet born will serve with honor. Never again will a generation forsake the generations that came before, or those yet to come.
Before We Go, it is our sacred duty to ensure that no generation of warrior is ever treated poorly again - not in spite of what happened to us, but because of what happened to us. It has become the very purpose of our lives to tell the younger generation of warriors that we love them and honor them, that we understand their sacrifice, and that we will never, ever, treat lightly what they have lost in the service of their country.
Before We Go, this we vow, because we were soldiers once. Our compassion, our love for and unconditional support of today's warrior - that will be our legacy.
d**n Bird, You blew me away with that post ;D. VERY WELL SAID!! Today I had the pleasure of talking to a 7 tour Vet of Afghanistan, an Air Force CCT who's been shot not once but 3 times on different tours there. He holds no ill will toward anyone, but listening to him he feels that the media isn't telling America the whole story of what's really going on over there. In his eye's this thing won't be over for years. In Vietnam we had no idea who the VC were, in Afghanistan and Iraq it's the same thing, you just don't know who the bad guy's are until it's to late. America turned their back on us Vietnam Vet's and we must make sure it NEVER happens again!!!!