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MAY/JUNE 2007

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BEATING AROUND THE BUSH
In his PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee column in the January/February issue of The VVA Veteran, headlined “The VA Falls Short,” Tom Berger spoke of how the VA health care system has financially fallen short. This statement does not surprise me because the local VA here in West Haven, Connecticut, has begun to cut back acceptance of veterans with serious, untreated PTSD problems, saying that they are now working from donations and do not have the funding. They also beat around the bush regarding getting help for PTSD, saying they need the space for upcoming cases from the Gulf War and from the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bruce R. Lewis
Easton, Connecticut

BRUTAL HONESTY
The politically neutral reader (which I am) reading the Government Affairs column in the March/April issue would have to be concerned as to whether VVA is becoming a pro-Democrat lobbying group. For VVA to survive and prosper, it simply cannot devolve into just another thinly disguised support group for Democrats.

Let’s be candid for a second. Plenty of presidents, Democrats and Republicans, allowed VA medical facilities to arrive at their present state. Trying to pin all of the problems on the present administration is simply inaccurate. This e-mail is too brutally honest to be printed in The VVA Veteran, but I hope somebody ponders its contents.

Name Withheld
By E-mail

VVA Government Affairs Director Rick Weidman replies: If the writer goes back over, say, the past year’s worth of this newspaper, he will notice that VVA is bipartisan, both in our praise and our condemnation of elected officials of both parties. We are an “equal opportunity” membership and advocacy group in that we give them all hell when they do not do the right thing for service members and veterans of every generation. We ran many articles slamming the Clinton administration in 1999 and 2000, as well as articles praising Republicans. The Democrats have made promises to the veterans’ community since they took control of Congress in 2006 and thus far have made good on them. Hence the praise. We intend to hold their feet to the fire on all issues of relevance to veterans and their families.

WHINERS II
L.R. Harvey in his letter in the January/February issue of The VVA Veteran and others like him apparently believe that “supporting the troops” begins and ends with a brief parade and a handshake. They’d design military service to a minimum-wage standard during active duty followed by complete neglect upon separation. That’s happened before to Vietnam veterans.

Sen. James Webb made the best argument against those who rant against veterans advocacy. There should be a covenant between the warrior class of men and women who sacrifice life and limb and the citizenry they protect, represented by wise leaders who balance the sanctity of military personnel lives against credible threats to the nation. Unfortunately, both the political leadership and the general public are compelled to impetuous violence on the flimsiest evidence followed by a level of gratitude as fleeting as their fortitude for the fight.

Mr. Harvey is not above his own distortions of the truth when he tries to portray our fathers as stoic individuals who withstood the aftermath of war without a whimper. In point of fact, we owe almost all of the veterans’ benefits we enjoy today to those men who promoted the GI Bill of 1949. No one dared called them “whiners” then, and those who suggest that now of any veteran of any era should be ashamed of themselves. When it comes to “whining,” no one wants to hear people like Mr. Harvey fretting about his tax bill when our children are returning home minus a few arms and legs. Freedom isn’t free. Get over it.

John M. Flagler
Alfred, Maine

ALASKA OUTREACH
Thank you for the excellent article in the January/February issue of The VVA Veteran concerning the mission of Veterans Aviation Outreach here in Alaska. We invite anyone who is interested in our program that helps veterans in remote and isolated areas in Alaska to visit our website, www.vaoonline.org Thanks for the help that VVA provides to help us continue to be of assistance to veterans.

Maurice Bailey
Ulverstone, Tasmania, Australia

WHINERS III
This is in response to L.R. Harvey’s letter. I am releasing constructive anger to comment on his opinions. Here are mine: Harvey could have saved a lot of words for all Vietnam veterans by saying, “Take it like a man and stop your sniveling, crybabies.”

As a woman veteran who served during the Vietnam War, I have seen a lot, heard a lot, and done my share of serving my country with pride. Every man and woman who served during Vietnam deserves a Medal of Honor. I say this because our honor, our dignity, our pride, and our humanity were taken from us. Our nation wanted to forget about Agent Orange, PTSD, MST, and all the experimental drugs and therapies that were used then and now. American was, and still is, ashamed of the Vietnam War and the veterans who served in it.

We do not blame the government for everything that has gone wrong in our lives. I sort of like living way below the poverty level. What happened to liberty and justice for all? Or are only a handful authorized to receive that?

Thanks to L.R. Harvey’s letter, we can all sleep better at night. He must have been in the Army. They take anyone. I say to him: Go polish your medals. I also suggest that he watch the movies The Best Days of Our Lives, Forrest Gump, and Frances.

Cheryl Price
Russell, Massachusetts

BROWN VS. BLUE WATER
I received the January/February issue of The VVA Veteran, and the article about off-shore Agent Orange service connection caused me some concern. The article is fine, but why did you use a picture of a PBR? PBRs, as well as many other small combat craft (PCFs, ASPBs, Monitors, Tango, etc.), were deployed daily, patrolling some of the most intensely defoliated areas in South Vietnam, and a large number of sailors on them had their boots on the ground daily. These sailors are more than eligible for service connection for exposure to Agent Orange, as much as any soldier or Marine who served in the Delta.

While serving there, the Mobile Riverine Force amassed more than 18,000 casualties, including over 6,700 KIA. Therefore, I think it was poor judgement to use one of our boats as your photo of choice. A photo of a destroyer, cruiser, or carrier would have been more appropriate. I was there in 1968-69, deployed out of Cat Lo, and road on those small-craft combat vessels.

Thomas Blakley
Cincinnati

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