Military, Uncategorized, Veterans

HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY


Dearest Readers:

It is with heartfelt pride I extend a proud and Happy Veteran’s Day to all Veterans who served our country. I have a heart filled with love, respect and pride for ALL VETERANS, especially the Veterans of the “Vietnam conflict.”

9th Inf Div, Commo Platoon_Aug_2007DSC_0170

As my loyal readers know, I am married to a Vietnam Veteran. Married only three months when he shipped out for Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day. What a broken-hearted Thanksgiving that day was for me. I remember crying and praying all day long for God to keep my soldier husband safe and to bring him back to me.

Years later, after watching my husband burst into rages, I researched to see what was going on within him. He would not talk to me. When he was tormented, I heard these words: “It don’t mean nothing.”

The fights and rages continued and each time he said, “It don’t mean nothing,” I realized his words meant a lot, especially to me. He was careful. Never did he show his rage in public. He only showed them to me. Never did others see him choking me during nights of fitful sleep. “It don’t mean nothing,” certainly meant something horrifying to him. When we saw the movies about Vietnam, one of the lines by a fighting soldier were: “It don’t mean nothing. Man. It don’t mean nothing.”

I tapped my husband on the shoulder. “You say that all the time to me.”

He looked at me in the darkness of the movie theater.

Once, after playing golf with his closest Vietnam friend, he came home and said: “Jerry thinks I have PTSD.”

“Oh,” I smiled. “Jerry thinks you might have PTSD. Guess what! I KNOW you have PTSD.”

A few weeks later, Phil decided to meet with his doctors at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. The doctors confirmed he definitely had PTSD. For those who might not be aware, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] wasn’t diagnosed until 1980. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/ptsd-overview.asp

In this household, PTSD existed much earlier while watching my husband jump practically out of his skin whenever he heard loud noises. Let’s not discuss fireworks. He shivers like a frightened child when he hears them. In the middle of the night, he would straddle me. Hands around my neck, squeezing and choking me while muttering something about “Charlie’s coming,” and a few words I could not understand in a foreign language – Vietnamese style.

On Veterans’ Day, I do not want to digress about Vietnam.

Today, after the election, there is so much hatred in America. How I wish all of those angry people would go to a church and pray — to rid their bodies of the hatred they have. We in America, need to give our new President Elect a chance to make America Great again. We should not beat others, knocking them out of their cars, kicking, screaming cursing at them simply because “You voted for Trump.”

We must move forward. We must fly our USA flags proudly, not burn them. We must say to a Veteran, “Thank you for your service.” Most of all, we should not hate.

To all of you who served our country, I shall say again: “Thank you,” and “May God bless you, and all of us in the United States of America, as we move forward to a new President.”

May God bless the USA. Welcome Home Veterans. HAPPY VETERANS DAY.

[The photographs posted are from the HHC 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division. I love each and every one of you and your families. Happy Veteran’s Day! Photography credit: Barbie Perkins-Cooper]

 

 

 

 

 

Free Writing

TODAY IS — HEART DAY…


Dearest Readers:

Today, according to my headline is “Heart Day.” Perhaps you are a bit curious as to why I say today is Heart Day. Allow me to explain. The morning of February 4, 1998 I awoke, dreading the day. My dad was at Roper Hospital on the 5th floor, fighting desperately and oh so weakly, for his life. Esophageal cancer was trying to take his life. On February 2, of the same year, my husband was rushed to Roper Hospital with suspected heart problems. After a cardiac catheterization procedure, http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cardiac-catheterization/basics/definition/prc-20023050 the cardiologist recommended heart surgery since four of Phil’s arteries were blocked. If my memory is correct, two of the blockages were at 90% or higher. I have to admit, my memory is a bit lacking where the statistics and medical diagnosis during this stressful time. Two of the most significant men in my life were now fighting for their lives.

On the morning of February 4, I remember driving to the hospital, arriving extremely early so I could kiss my dad good morning, and be with my husband during the prepping time for his surgery. What I did…who I was with…discussions…etc…etc… are a cloud of fog inside my brain, but I do remember praying, and I do remember going to the chapel — alone — so I could talk with God…say a prayer and light a candle.

All throughout the day I had friends drop by to see how I was doing. When they wheeled Phil to surgery, I remember walking along the gurney, holding his hand. I forced myself to be strong. “Don’t you dare cry…” I kept saying quietly to myself. “You have to be strong!” I did not have my immediate family with me. My son was out-of-town. Additional family members lived in Georgia, so I could not expect them to be with me. Besides, everything happened so fast. On February 2, I got a phone call at work, from ‘Karen at the doctor’s office.’ Funny, I thought. Why is Karen phoning me when Dad is in the hospital now. When I answered the phone, I discovered Karen was my husband’s doctor’s nurse. She was calling to tell me Phil was rushed to Roper Hospital. “This can’t be happening,” I whispered. “Both of my guys are at the same hospital. This must be a nightmare.”

There was a black cloud hanging over me!

On the date of February 4, as I kissed Phil bye, I wiped a tear from his face. I confess…I’ve never seen this man cry, until that day. I entered the cardiac waiting area. I asked someone where I could get a cup of coffee, recognizing I needed additional caffeine to get me thru this date. I was told we could not bring coffee, drinks of any kind, or snacks into the waiting area. Yes, it was a new, beautiful waiting room, but I ask — have you EVER sat in a waiting room, alone at the moment, without caffeine???

A few minutes passed. A friend joined me. Later, there were more friends…many…so many that if I listed all of them, I am certain I would leave someone out, and I would never want to seem ungrateful.

As the hours ticked away, I continued closing my eyes for a moment, to silently pray. I do remember one prayer. “Please God…I have two of the dearest men in my life fighting for their lives now. Please…God…give us all more time to be together. Please.”

I made a promise to myself. I had total faith that Phil would survive this day, and I intended to make this day — the Fourth of February, a special day for us to remember…February 4 will be our Heart Day.

For many years, I kept that promise, but like all things in life, the demands of life have a way of making us forget. This morning when I awoke I found myself contemplating — February 4…What is it about February 4 that continues to echo in my mind. I stopped for one brief moment, remembering that we lost our precious little Maltese on the 4th of January. Could that be the reason February 4 keeps ringing in my ears and brain?

On the way to get my nails done, the date of February 4 finally clicked! Today is Heart Day! I confess, its been years since I’ve bought a card, or wished Phil a Happy Heart Day, but today was a new day and I promised myself that this date would not slip by without a card, or some silly memento of the occasion. After all, not everyone gets a Heart Day!

Yes, Readers, you might call me silly, or a romantic…or someone who is so unpredictable that she would strive to make the most of something, especially a special day. I confess, I am definitely — silly, romantic, and unpredictable! Today is the 16th anniversary of my husband’s heart surgery. SIXTEEN YEARS! Still, his heart is going…even when he gets in his PTSD rages and I have doubts that he DOES HAVE A HEART. Nevertheless, today is Phil’s Heart Day.

Sitting on top of his computer in a bag is a silly little stuffed animal with a heart and “You Fill My Heart” inscribed. Yes, it’s silly, but what the heck. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Shouldn’t we all take the time to stop…for just one moment to cherish those important moments in our lives? Phil and I did not have a wedding, so getting married wasn’t exactly a precious moment. We’ve lived together for such a long time now that it is hard to remember exactly how L-O-N-G we’ve been married. I say I’ve been married ALL OF MY LIFE because in many ways it is true. I married three months after high school graduation. In all reality, I never had a life until I got married…so it’s no wonder I say, “I’ve been married ALL OF MY LIFE!”

So, for those most significant moments in our lives, we must cherish and strive to appreciate these precious moments, such as ‘Phil’s Heart Day.’

After his heart surgery, I was happy to know that Phil does have a heart. You have to get to know Phil to understand why I say that! Let’s just say, someone who has been to a war zone and saw the horrid things that happen in a combat zone, only helps to almost destroy the person who has seen the emotional scars of war. Phil suffers with PTSD. Yes, he has good days and bad days…but today is Phil’s Heart Day!

Sixteen years of heart surgery…Let’s continue hoping and praying for the best!

Happy Heart Day!

Veterans

FOR THOSE AFFECTED VIA THE VIETNAM WAR — SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT


Received these statistics from a reputable source.

These stats and numbers are astounding and disturburbing when read carefully.  They tell a very interesting tale about our society and in my opinion a sickness in that society and sadness…………………….DD

 

A slightly different set of statistics about the veterans and casualties.
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VIETNAM VETERAN STATISTICS

In case Vietnam veterans haven’t been paying attention these past few decades after they returned from Vietnam, the clock has been ticking.

The following are some statistics that are at once depressing yet, in a larger sense, should give Vietnam veterans a HUGE SENSE OF PRIDE.

Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam veteran’s age approximated to be 54 years old.

So, if you are a Vietnam veteran reading this, how does it feel to be among the last 1/3rd of all the U.S. vets who served in Vietnam?

These statistics were taken from a variety of sources to include: The VFW Magazine, the Public Information Office, and the HQ CP Forward Observer – 1st Recon April 12, 1997.

STATISTICS FOR INDIVIDUALS IN UNIFORM AND IN COUNTRY VIETNAM VETERANS

9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era
(August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975).

8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964 – March 28,1973).

2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam, this number represents 9.7% of their generation.

3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the broader Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters).

2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam (Jan. 1,1965 – March 28, 1973). Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964.

Of the 2.6 million, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack.

7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5% were nurses) served in Vietnam.

Peak troop strength in Vietnam: 543,482 (April 30, 1968).

CASUALTIES

The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him.

Hostile deaths: 47,378
Non-hostile deaths: 10,800
Total: 58,202 (Includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties). Men who have subsequently died of wounds account for the changing total.

8 nurses died — 1 was KIA.

61% of the men killed were 21 or younger.
11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.

Of those killed, 17,539 were married.

Average age of men killed:

Total Deaths: 23.11 years
Enlisted: 50,274 – 22.37 years
Officers: 6,598 – 28.43 years
Warrants: 1,276 – 24.73 years
E1: 525 – 20.34 years
1B MOS: 18,465 – 22.55 years
Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
Highest state death rate: West Virginia – 84.1% (national average 58.9% for every 100,000 males in 1970).

Wounded: 303,704 — 153,329 hospitalized + 150,375 injured requiring no hospital care.

Severely disabled: 75,000, — 23,214: 100% disabled; 5,283 lost limbs; 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.

Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than Korea.

Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII.

Missing in Action: 2,338

POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity)

As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

DRAFTEES VS. VOLUNTEERS

25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII).

Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.

Reservists killed: 5,977

National Guard: 6,140 served: 101 died.

Total draftees (1965 – 73): 1,728,344.

Actually served in Vietnam: 38% Marine Corps Draft: 42,633.

Last man drafted: June 30, 1973.

RACE AND ETHNIC BACKGROUND

88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000) were black; 1% belonged to other races.

86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics).

12.5% (7,241) were black; 1.2% belonged to other races.

170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2% of total) died there.

70% of enlisted men killed were of northwest European descent.

86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races.

14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks.

34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms.

Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population.

Religion of Dead: Protestant — 64.4%; Catholic — 28.9%; other/none — 6.7%

SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS

Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups.

Vietnam veterans’ personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent.

76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds.

Three-fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds.

Some 23% of Vietnam vets had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations.

79% of the men who served in Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered the military service.

63% of Korean War vets and only 45% of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation.

Deaths by region per 100,000 of population: South — 31%, West –29.9%; Midwest — 28.4%; Northeast — 23.5%.

DRUG USAGE &CRIME

There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam veterans and non-Vietnam veterans of the same age group. (Source: Veterans Administration Study)

Vietnam veterans are less likely to be in prison – only one-half of one percent of Vietnam veterans have been jailed for crimes.

85% of Vietnam veterans made successful transitions to civilian life.

WINNING &LOSING

82% of veterans who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of lack of political will.

Nearly 75% of the public agrees it was a failure of political will, not of arms.

HONORABLE SERVICE

97% of Vietnam-era veterans were honorably discharged.

91% of actual Vietnam War veterans and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country.

74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.

87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem.

INTERESTING CENSUS STATISTICS
RELATIVE TO
THOSE WHO CLAIM TO HAVE “Been There”

1,713,823 of those who served in Vietnam were still alive as of August,1995 (census figures).

During that same Census count, the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country was: 9,492,958.

As of the current Census taken during August, 2000, the surviving U.S. Vietnam veteran population estimate is: 1,002,511. This is hard to believe, losing nearly 711,000 between ’95 and ’00. That’s 390 per day.

During this Census count, the number of Americans falsely claiming to have served in-country is: 13,853,027. By this census, FOUR OUT OF FIVE WHO CLAIM TO BE Vietnam vets are not.

OTHER

The Department of Defense Vietnam War Service Index officially provided by The War Library originally reported with errors that 2,709,918 U.S. military personnel as having served in-country. Corrections and confirmations to this erred index resulted in the addition of 358 U.S. military personnel confirmed to have served in Vietnam but not originally listed by the Department of Defense. (All names are currently on file and accessible 24/7/365).

Isolated atrocities committed by American soldiers produced torrents of outrage from anti-war critics and the news media while communist atrocities were so common that they received hardly any media mention at all. The United States sought to minimize and prevent attacks on civilians while North Vietnam made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its strategy. Americans who deliberately killed civilians received prison sentences while communists who did so received commendations.

From 1957 to 1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, and school teachers. – Nixon Presidential Papers.

 

 

 

Veterans

9th Infantry Division Reunion – Thoughts Before My Second Cup of Coffee!


Dearest Readers:

The posting below is one I wrote in the wee early morning hours of my husband’s Vietnam Veterans Reunion, held here in Charleston. This just shows, I should not post until I am completely awake. Somehow, I posted these comments in the comments section, not in the blog. This should teach me that I should have at least two cups of coffee prior to writing in my blog. Such is the life of a writer!

 

Another early morning amongst the velvet blanket of darkness outside. Across the street, I see a light glaring in a neighbor’s home. Sunrise will arrive soon, kissing the Charleston community with another blessed morning. Although it is early, I feel blessed. Over the weekend, Phil and I shared his 9th Infantry Division reunion — laughing, joking, listening carefully, and talking about a band of brothers experiences during a time of war…a time when America refused to support the war…Americans blamed our soldiers for the war…and all that happened during it. The Mi Lai Massacre…The Tet Offensive…and Agent Orange…other events that happened, which most Americans cannot understand — simply due to the fact that it is a war. Unless we were there, we the Americans, cannot understand.

With each of these reunions that Phil and I attend, I see a healing process. As you know, my husband suffers with PTSD. There are times I simply wish to run away from him and never let him catch me, or bring me back…but this weekend…was different. He only grew anxious once…Just once…and when I confronted him about his ‘grumpiness,’ this time — he appeared to listen to me…no fighting…no belittling me. Thank you, God! Normally, his ‘rage’ kicks in during these times, and knowing him as I do, and how verbally cruel he can be, I ‘handle the situation’ by walking away…attempting to ignore him. Unless you live with someone who has the emotional scars of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, especially from a combat zone, you cannot understand what we, the supporters of this ‘condition’ tolerate. Let’s just say, it isn’t a pretty package!

This weekend was different. When he grew so grumpy, I decided it was better to hang out with the girls and leave him be. For once, it appeared to work.

And so, to all of you who were here — at the reunion — a total of 16 people, I cannot thank you enough for embracing us into your extended family…Once just a ‘band of brothers…’ now…an extended family who may not understand…or just might understand what we…the wives, and family members experience whenever the PTSD triggers kick in. I would like to thank all of you, especially Dusty and Lou Dewberry for opening a door and welcoming us as a small portion of your extended band of brothers and sisters – from the remnants of the Vietnam War, slowly we find hope and acceptance. May God Bless All of You and may God keep you safe as you journey home. Thank you!

Some of the 9th Infantry Division, Vietnam Veterans, and Loved Ones at Angel Oak
Some of the 9th Infantry Division, Vietnam Veterans, and Loved Ones at Angel Oak
Veterans

The 9th Infantry Division, Commo Platoon Reunion Begins In Charleston, SC


Charleston Reunion 2013

Just wanted to share an image from the Vietnam Vets Reunion – pictured are Dusty Dewberry, Founder and Greg Ellis, who assists. Never have I met a more enjoyable group of people…the band of brothers and their lovely wives. Such a great group. I truly hated to see the reunion end.

More photos and details will follow. Another busy day!