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]

 

 

 

 

 

Veterans

Welcome Home — Vietnam Veterans Day


Dearest Readers:

Did you know March 29, 2015 was Vietnam Veterans Day??? What?!??? You did not know? Why didn’t the news media share this information? Good question which I do not have the answer!

I confess, I have a special place, bonded tightly within my heart for Vietnam Veterans; after all, my husband is a Vietnam Veteran. I am extremely proud of him. Well, on most days. Returning home from Vietnam, I noticed his temperament was intense. His jealousy grew. There were times when he noticed a man looking at me and he glared, then asking in a most arrogant mannerism, “What the Hell are you looking at?” During those times, I wanted to crawl into the floor and hide. I recognized the gentle, caring man I married and waited on while he was in Vietnam, was not the man I was married to now. That man was still in Vietnam.

Looking at my husband, I saw a man with emptiness in his eyes. While visiting his parents, we knocked on the door of their trailer. His mother opened the door, managing to say, “Oh…You’re here.” We entered the trailer, awaiting hugs and kisses. His mother sat down at the kitchen table, lighting another cigarette. Never did she or his father show any emotion of gratitude for his homecoming. No special meal. No reunion…NOTHING! Strange. When I asked my husband if his parents always reacted with such a frigid demeanor his reply was a simple, “It don’t mean nothing.” The phrase “It don’t mean nothing,” now rang inside my head constantly.

I suppose emotions such as those awaited many Vietnam Veterans. Over the years, I grew afraid of my husband, especially when his jealous rages exploded. I withdrew. Rarely made friends. And if I was away from our home, my husband would phone everyone he knew, including retail stores I shopped at, until — he found me. I was quickly becoming a prisoner inside my own home.

In 2001, my husband played golf with a Vietnam Veteran. I do not know what happened on the golf course, but when he got home, he made a comment I never expected. “Some of the guys think I have PTSD,” he said.

“Think?” I responded…”I KNOW you have PTSD.”

“What makes you think that?” He asked, moving closer to me. My body flinched.

“Your temperament. Impatience. Anger. Jealousy. The rages you get and how you treat me. You’re not nice when that monster gets in your eyes.”

My husband simply walked away. No discussion. No communication.

I knew the warning signs of PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After all, I was living with a man who brought it home from Vietnam.

Vietnam Veterans Deserve…

I find it interesting and extremely sad that the media does not share stories about Vietnam Veterans Day. Listening to the news yesterday, I expected to hear something about it, but did not. My husband and I know many Vietnam Veterans. When I greet them, I always say, “Thank you for your service and Welcome Home.” I’ve seen these veterans choke up at times. I suppose they are getting a bit of relief now about how America treated these Veterans when they returned. One of my neighbors, no longer a part of our neighborhood since she moved, actually told our son that, and I quote, “Your daddy is a baby killer.” Then, she spat in my son’s face. He rushed home. Tears streaming down his face. When I hugged him he told me what he experienced from this neighbor.

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “You stay here.” No doubt my seven-year-old9th Inf Div, Commo Platoon_Aug_2007 son knew where I was going. Knocking on her door, she refused to answer. My knock grew harder. “I’m not leaving until you open this door,” I shouted. The door opened.

“How could you,” I said in a calm voice. “You called my husband a baby killer to my son.”

“That’s what he is,” she said. Her hair was long and stringy. She wore a loose caftan, reminding me of a hippy.

“How dare you to be so cruel. My husband fought in a war for your freedom. It’s a shame that you have the ability to express what others say. It’s a shame you were not fighting a war. But maybe you are…with your drugs, alcohol and fast life. Don’t think the neighborhood doesn’t know about you. You neglect your child and you are always strung out from something you shouldn’t be doing. Your house smells of marijuana. Maybe that’s the style of life you choose…and you can only do it here, alone in your home. You should be thanking the Veterans for your freedom, not wasting it away…”

I spun on my heel and walked away. Never did I see her again.

Yesterday, March 29, 2015, I would like to wish all of our Vietnam Veterans a profound Welcome Home, and Thank you for your service. While it isn’t easy to live a life with a Veteran, I am still very proud that my husband and I weathered the storms in our marriage, and we chose to work through the difficult times…and there were many. Nights of fitful sleep. Nightmares. Days and nights of reassuring him that I loved him and wanted to work through the difficulties. While in therapy, I told my husband and the therapist that the reason I had the strength to place things in perspective and to ‘work it out’ because I still remembered how difficult and alone I was while he was in Vietnam. Newly married, three months later, he flew away to Vietnam, on Thanksgiving Day. Our First Thanksgiving Day. A day I could not give thanks!

Here’s to You — The Vietnam Veterans

Perhaps it has become easier for both of us to become closer again after we reunited with my husband’s platoon. Every fall the 9th Infantry Division, Commo Platoon, have a reunion with the guys and their wives/loves/significant others…I must say, within this group is some of the kindest, most caring, loving people I have ever met. Never do I hear of anyone ridiculing the others, nor do they gossip and criticize others. Isn’t that amazing? We’ve attended just a few of these reunions. My husband is not retired. He finds himself happiest while at work, so there are many times when we cannot travel. Nevertheless, we still hear from all of these ‘bands of brothers’. I appreciate each and everyone of them.

So, to you, the Vietnam Veterans, I do hope your Vietnam Veterans Day was a happy one. I salute all of you, and I thank you for your service. Welcome Home Soldiers. You deserve the best.

http://wtop.com/tag/welcome-home-vietnam-veterans-day/ According to this site, ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Vietnam veterans are getting some long-delayed appreciation in Maryland. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is signing a bill Monday making March 30 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Perhaps soon all of the leadership in America will recognize our Vietnam Veterans.

WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VETERANS…THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY!

ARTICLES, Veterans

HURRY UP AND WAIT… PLAYING THE WAITING GAME AT THE VA HOSPITAL


Dearest Readers:

Listed below is a story based on true experiences shared at the VA Hospital in Charleston, SC – March 2011. I am happy to report, these scenarios have not been experienced by my husband since that time. Now, with so many investigations ongoing regarding the Veterans Administration, I thought it appropriate to share this story again. Thankfully, after this happened, I received numerous phone calls from Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital, apologizing. Apparently, our experience helped to open the eyes of the administration and this type of behavior is no longer tolerated. The last time I accommodated my husband at the hospital, I discovered friendly, professional and caring nurses, doctors and staff. Truly a pleasant experience. Isn’t it sad that sometimes we do tolerate this type of behavior — however, for me, when I see this behavior related to a Veteran, I choose to slip on my Julia Sugarbaker shoes and go at them — diplomatically. Let’s just say, sometimes, the power of words and body language gets the job done. I am so happy that Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital no longer tolerates non-professional employees. Our Veterans deserve the best…after all…they went to battle for the United States of America. Thank you Veterans…for your service…and welcome Home!

On March 30, 2011, my husband awoke to severe pain in the neck. Knowing he is a heart patient who suffered a TIA in December 2008, Phil phoned his primary care doctor at Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital. For those who are not aware, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a mini-stroke. A TIA is considered a warning sign that a true stroke may be about to happen. Time is crucial to receive medical care. Phil phoned the TAPS line to make an appointment to see his primary care doctor. When the nurse at the VA hospital returned his call, he listened to the symptoms, telling my husband he would receive a return call from the doctor within twenty-four hours. “Twenty-four hours,” I replied. “If you are having a TIA there may not be 24 hours We’re going to E-R!”

Arriving at E-R of the VA Hospital, I noticed a sign, “No cell phones permitted in this area.” I turned my cell phone off. We entered the emergency area, standing in line awaiting a simple nod from someone acknowledging our presence. We watched the employee answer the telephone, hang it up, answer another telephone, while placing it on the desk to answer her personal cell phone. Upon answering her personal cell, she motioned that she wasn’t assisting with patients and walked away. We crossed over to the other line, now filled with two people who arrived after we did. Finally we were serviced and my husband told them he was a heart patient and had a TIA in 2008. His neck was causing excruciating pain and he wanted to make certain he wasn’t having a stroke. Almost immediately, my husband’s vitals were checked. Within 30 minutes he was moved back to the E-R area, examination room 10.

For two-and-a- half hours we sat in the room. No one came to check on his condition. In the corridor my husband listened to the nurses and assistants chattering away about their lives, partying, marriage, while answering their cell phones and surfing on the Internet. My husband is a Vietnam Veteran with PTSD so patience isn’t something he tolerates well. After waiting for such a long time, I approached these people, greeting them diplomatically. “Could you please give me an estimate of how much longer it will be before my husband sees a doctor?”

Hannah, the young, attractive blonde dressed in orange scrubs glanced up from her laptop screen. “We have a lot of patients. Many are sicker than your husband, so we don’t know how long it will be.”

“You do realize my husband could be having another TIA. I am certain when the doctor arrives he will recommend an X-ray, and then we’ll have to continue the wait. Strokes demand a quick response.”

The nurse shrugged her shoulders. “We looked at his records, but I don’t know how much longer it will be.”

“Why is it always such a long waiting game every time we come here?” I asked. “My husband could be having a stroke.”

Recognizing I was getting nowhere, I turned back to my husband’s examination room. The nurse replied, “You can always go somewhere else…”

I spun on my heel, approached the blonde again and replied… “That is the wrong thing to say to someone, especially a Veteran. When the USA needed them, they did not say they could go somewhere else to avoid war…How dare you say that to a veteran. Perhaps you should go somewhere else to work…”

Arriving back at my husband’s room, I was so angry I was shaking. Within two minutes a doctor entered the room, introducing himself as Dr. Edward O’Bryan.” He examined my husband, testing his balance, doing all the necessary tests to determine he was not having a stroke. The diagnosis was neck strain. A shot was given, prescriptions written and a request for an X-ray was completed. While speaking with the doctor, I demanded to know the blonde nurse’s name. “Hannah,” was the reply. Dr. O’Bryan was 100% professional with a great bedside manner. I explained my concerns to him, along with the words expressed by the nurse. He apologized. I let him know I was taking notes, would write a letter to my Congressional Representative, and would write additional stories about this experience. He nodded. Later, I spoke with a nursing supervisor who reassured me that the nurse in question had been reprimanded.

Isn’t it a shame that sometimes it takes a bit of assertiveness to get the necessary care at a VA Hospital. When our veterans went to war the expression, “Hurry up and wait,” became a cliché. In 2011, it is not just a cliché, but appears to be a standard operating procedure at VA Hospitals. It is a pity that veterans are treated in such a way. Whatever happened to the promises made? Our veterans fight wars to protect our freedom. I find it inconceivable that when they need a little TLC and examinations they are told to “Go somewhere else.” Our Veterans deserve better treatment and medical care. They made our country proud, not a disgrace!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Barbie Perkins-Cooper is a freelance writer who loves the journey and exploration of hospitality, travel, and health. She works full-time as an editorial photojournalist and has published numerous articles and photographs for regional, health and beauty and travel publications, including the Travel Channel, Buick B Magazine, and many more. Barbie resides in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Phil and several precious pups. She is the author of Condition of Limbo and Career Diary of a Photographer. e-mail barbiepc@bellsouth.net.

ARTICLES, On My Soapbox!, Veterans

PTSD, Lack of Medical Care, and Blue Water Navy Dioxin Exposure The Emotional Wars Necessary to Wake Up the VA


After my marriage to a soldier, I was blissful of our future life together. Kissing him goodbye at the Charleston, South Carolina Airport I was fearful of what he would be like when he returned, or what would happen to me, if he did not make it home. Young and excited, I believed the military practiced their belief of taking care of their own. When I arrived at R&R in Hawaii, nine months after he departed, I was informed I had to attend an orientation before his arrival. I was told that he might overreact over something as silly as leaving the toilet seat up, or forgetting to place the lid back on the toothpaste. I needed to know how to respond. After all, he was in a war zone, seeing things that most Americans did not see normally, and I needed to know how to care for him. One year and five days after he left for Vietnam, I was completely surprised when no one contacted me to see how I was adjusting with my soldier husband home. Unlike Army Wives, I did not receive any type of family support. Never did either of us get a phone call or a referral to his reentry into a normal life. Never did anyone ask me how he was doing after fighting in a war zone. Our life as husband and wife finally began in Fort Gordon, GA where I witnessed flashbacks, irritability, and night rages where he choked me while shouting in Vietnamese language. When I encouraged him to get some help, his reply was an angry, “It don’t mean nothing.” Little did I know my husband was suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, along with the side effects of Agent Orange.

Flash-forward to 2009.

The war in Vietnam ended April 30, 1975. I remember watching the stories on the local news, while feeding our child, now three years old. My husband never expressed his feelings over the war ending. He simply rose from the table and walked away. I heard, “It don’t mean nothing,” again. Never did I understand the chill of those words until I slipped into a deep depression over the wrongs of my marriage. Suddenly it seemed my husband was an angry man. He spat off into bitter rages, shouting at me, telling me I should be ‘seen and not heard.’ He wanted me to be the happy homemaker, not the actress, singer, or writer I desired to be. I shouted at him, unable to understand why our marriage was falling apart. He blamed me – for everything. Our fights were my fault. Our finances, and our tight budget, were my fault. The car breaking down – my fault. The lack of intimacy was my fault. Defeated, I crawled into a shell. Why couldn’t my husband understand, I needed more than wife or mommy, I needed a life that was fulfilling, not just domestic. Our fights continued as he demanded that I quit work and focus only on him and our son. Defeated, I granted his wishes while the anger was brewing inside of me. In early 1980, I read an article in a magazine, describing how many Vietnam Veterans had returned to America, only to become angry. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was the culprit and it was destroying the lives of the Vietnam Veteran. The marriages of the Vietnam era were falling apart, with only 1% surviving. We, my husband and I, were 1%, and we were crumbling.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] became a household name in the early 1980’s. As the wife of a former military man and a veteran, I was compelled to learn all I could about it. On one occasion I told my husband I suspected he had PTSD. He denied it, telling me our problems were all because of me and my independence. Yes, I was a feminist, and the longer I lived with him, the more defiant I became to make my own way. Nevertheless, I did not have the courage to end our marriage and I stayed with him because I loved him and I was afraid he would not survive without me.

In early 2000, he met a Vietnam Veteran on the golf course. Together, they bonded as brothers. With the acceptance of their friendship, my husband has recognized the behaviors he battles daily are a reflection of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He met with a representative of Veterans Affairs in 2001 or 2002, and is still battling to get the benefits he was promised. PTSD is his daily battle and there are times he actually wants to run away from himself. If only the VA could live with him for one week they would understand how painful his emotional wounds are. If only the VA could hold him during the flashbacks. In many ways, my soldier husband is still in Vietnam, never to return. On one occasion my husband met with a VA rep only to be told, and I quote, “It doesn’t help your case that you are still with your first wife.” When my husband expressed his comment to me, I was outraged, wanting the name, phone number, and contact information. My husband did not share it with me, but I can certainly educate others into the scenarios I discover.

Recently, I became involved with non-profit groups that desires to wake up Congress and fulfill the promises made to Veterans. In March 2008, my husband traveled to Columbia, SC to appeal a decision from the VA. Now, he is told his file is in Washington, still awaiting a decision. My concern is not just for my husband, but for all veterans. Just how long does it take for a veteran to get the physical, emotional, mental, and monetary care he or she needs so life can return to normalcy I recognize there is a multitude of complaints that must be addressed by Congress or the Veterans Affairs, especially in 2014 with all of the complaints finally coming to the surface. My mission is to write about these scenarios and to share with my readers. When called to duty, to service America and its freedom, our Veterans stood tall, fought the battles, and now when needing our service the most, the VA ignores, or procrastinates to service their needs. This is a disgrace to all serving in the military.

PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

VA Physicians are being instructed to deny or misdiagnose PTSD, or they are simply ignoring the signs, over medicating or improperly medicating, and simply not even looking into alternative ways of dealing with PTSD. Many Veterans are left to feel as if no one cares, or no one listens to their symptoms. Instead of listening, or asking probing questions, the medical practitioner prescribes a drug and it appears that the VA has a drug for every ailment. We as Americans must take a stand to service and understand our soldiers and Veterans, not simply remove their weapons, dust them off, and refer them to another source of treatment, or someone else at the VA. We must learn to listen and stop the habit of prescribing drugs for every ailment. Veterans are not pin cushions or guinea pigs. We promised our Veterans benefits, freedom, and a better life, not simply prescribed drugs by doctors who react by overwriting prescriptions, instead of listening to their emotional ailments. Is this the way the VA strives to help our Veterans? Just simply prescribing a drug in hopes the Veteran will feel better in the morning? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] is described as an ‘emotional illness’ and it was not recognized as PTSD until the 1980’s when the American Psychiatric Association recognized it as such, according to the website, http://www.psychiatric-disorders.com. PTSD leaves no visible scars, only the emotional scars that will remain forever inside the mind of the war veteran. PTSD leaves a stigma attached to it. To those who do not understand this ailment, the looks, discriminations, and lack of compassion leaves the Veteran with a lack of understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the wounds of it. While it is true, the wounds are embedded within the mind, the wounds are so obvious to those of us who love the Veteran suffering with PTSD; and we strive to do all we can to make their life more productive and pleasant. We need the VA to do the same.

President Obama has said: “We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America, a commitment that begins with enlistment and must never end.”

You, as Americans, and politicians of a free society, do have a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to provide benefits and care, regardless of the costs involved! Our government has a moral, ethical, and Patriotic obligation to care for those who did the job others failed to do, or the many millions of Americans who chose to escape the effects, physical ailments, illnesses, and emotional wounds of war. Freedom is not free; it comes with a price tag. Veterans paid a gigantic price, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Only a war veteran can comprehend how that price was paid for in full by our military and war veterans, along with their spouses and children! The price they paid for their devotion to their freedom does not have a monetary amount and it could be considered priceless since the effects of war leave so many emotional and physical scars that cannot be repaired. The price our war veterans paid was distributed in full with blood, sweat and many tears.

Isn’t it about time Congress, the President, and the Veterans Affairs actually stood tall and paid that bill? Isn’t it time to help our wounded warriors, including those who suffer with PTSD, lack of medical care and improperly cleaned or sterilized equipment, and Blue Water Navy Dioxin Exposure, along with the emotional scars, to be compensated? The actions of Congress and the actions and policies of the VA seem to express so loud and clear that it would have been far better had our men and women not served or died at war than to suffer the denials, the schemes, shenanigans, and the maltreatment provided by the government of the United States. Let us all make a bit of noise with our Congress and all lawmakers. Send a copy of this article to those in your community, along with those who represent your home front. Isn’t it time our Veterans were treated with respect and dignity? Isn’t it time we welcomed them home and gave them the benefits promised, without the emotional war they must battle now, just to get those benefits? The choice is yours. You must decide.

Barbie Perkins-Cooper is an awarding winning writer who loves the journey and exploration of travel, health, and hospitality. She is the proud wife of a Vietnam Veteran and works full-time as an editorial photojournalist. She has published numerous articles and photographs for regional, health and beauty and travel publications including the Travel Channel, New York Daily News and Buick Magazine.

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.

 

 

 

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Happy Veterans Day


Today is a Veterans Day. A day to be thankful for all that we are blessed to share in the United States of America. A day to give thanks, and a day to remember those who fought the wars and never returned home.

I was blessed to have my husband return home. No, he was not the same man I married. I observed much just by looking in his eyes, and the quick way he looked away from me. I knew there was sadness, and although I tried to get him to communicate his pain, he would not. He was so different. Angry. Suspicious. More quick-tempered than he was just before he left for the fears and devastation of Vietnam. Jealous — more prevalent than ever!

Over the years, I’ve learned what triggers him, and even though I cannot understand it, I am quick to let him know his jealous rages and fears are not directed at me, nor are they acceptable; therefore, I don’t tolerate them. I simply walk away until the storm dissolves.

Today, I hugged him, wishing him a Happy Veterans Day. Today, we have a new generation of Veterans, and I hope our nation will appreciate them and treat them better than the Vietnam Veterans were treated when arriving home. I recall when my husband arrived home, I stood waiting at the airport in Atlanta, GA until his plane arrived at 2:30am. I bounced into his arms, ecstatic that he was home. When we drove to Charleston for him to see his family, the reaction and welcome home was “Oh…it’s you.” No bear hugs. No embraces. No thank you’s…No celebrations…only coldness…Not even a home cooked meal, cookies or his favorite cake…this from his immediate family! I wanted to scream at them so they would welcome him home…

Today, my wish is that when a soldier returns from a tour of duty that his family embraces him or her and makes them feel as if they were missed and appreciated. I suppose we, the families of the Vietnam era, remember how cold and uncaring our Veterans from Vietnam were treated. At airports they were shunned…sometimes spat upon. Let us pray that this never happens again. Only last week on the evening news I heard about a bunch of soldiers returning home via airplanes. People from first-class of the flight actually acted first-class – giving up their first-class service and comfort so the soldiers could fly in first-class. This story made me proud.

Maybe the United States learned something from the Vietnam era. Life is so precious, and when we have life, we must cherish it. For Veterans, I say a simple thank you for your service and welcome home. I hope this Veterans Day 2013 is a joyous day for you and your family. Remember the good times and be thankful that today is a well deserved day of recognition for you. Happy Veterans Day, and Thank you for your service!Image

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!