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November/December Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / Letters / President's Message / VVAF Report / Government Relations / Veterans Benefits Update / PTSD Substance Abuse Committee Report / AVVA Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / Veterans Against Drugs Task Force Report / Constitution Committee Report / Convention Resolution Report / Healthcare Budget Reform / NamJam / South Korean Veterans / Arts of War / Book Review / Books / Membership Notes / Locator / Reunions / 4 Chaplains /

PAST ISSues
2010: Jan/Feb
2009: Jan/Feb | mar/apr
| may/june | july/Aug | sept/oct | Nov/DeC
2008: Jan/Feb | mar/apr | may/june | july/Aug | sept/oct | Nov/DeC
2007: Jan/Feb | MAR/APR | MAY/JUNE | july/aug | SEPT/OCT | Nov/DeC
2006: July/Aug | SEPT/OCT | nov/dec

INSIDE, LOOKING OUT

My drawing, “Hands Up,” featured on the cover of the May/June issue, is a self-portrait. I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1963 and served for four years. I was honorably discharged. I was among the first combat Marines sent to South Vietnam in 1965. I was a member of a two-man forward observer team that went out on nightly ambushes. A successful night landed us with one-to-six dead VC. I currently receive 50 percent disability for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder from the VA, and I have appealed to receive 100 percent, service-connected PTSD.
My art, which has been called “disturbing” and “weird,” is the result of 40 years of suffering in silence and two years of psychoanalysis. When my psychiatrist discovered I was a professional artist, he encouraged me to explore my experiences and feelings through drawing. I had never drawn anything on this subject before. I did a drawing. Then another. I stopped working on the collection over a year later, with 81 drawings.

Looking back over the collection, I realize these are all portraits of me in the Marines and of the Marines I served with in Vietnam. I stopped abruptly at 81 drawings because I could no longer deal with the subject. Each drawing has caused me to relive the war.

I believe these drawings have at least one redeeming feature. PTSD is always talked about in words, rarely in pictures. Pictures are a realm of communication that is preliterate in the history of humankind. Pictures can show what a thousand words may never explain, and maybe once shown, it doesn’t have to be explained at all—the same way PTSD has to be shown to its skeptics. I am a manifestation of PTSD and it just so happens that I can draw pictures of it, so I can show you what it looks like from the inside looking out.

I don’t regret my service in the Marine Corps or my thirteen months in Vietnam. When people ask me what I am, despite being a professional artist for 40 years and a university professor for 30 years, my response will always be, “I am a Marine.”

Roland Wolff
Savannah, Georgia
We are pleased to feature more of Roland Wolff’s illustrations on pp. 17-19. —Ed.

NEVER ENDING

I was late in reading the May/June issue because my Vietnam veteran brother Brian Robert Bingales, my best friend, died of heart failure on May 14 at the young age of 59 years, only a week after his birthday.

After reading “PTSD Again in the Eye of the Storm,” I wanted to shove a grenade down the throat of Dr. Sally Satel. Brian had six years of sobriety, four years in PTSD recovery after 30 days at Menlo Park (VA’s National PTSD treatment center), and two weeks annual refresher therapy, four years in a VA Clinic PTSD group and one-on-one therapy, two years of freedom from his 18-year drinking mate/girlfriend, and six months of serenity with a little happiness for once in his short life. Brian was 100 percent PTSD disabled and received SSDI for less than a year.

Brian came home after volunteering for two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1966-68 as a Radio Operator with the 101st Airborne Division with three Purple Hearts. He was called a “baby killer” then, and now a cheater and a faker of PTSD by Dr. Satel.
Maybe VVA’s National Chaplain should send all of the “Taps” announcements since the column started to Dr. Satel. I may be wrong, but since I became a Life Member of VVA, the mean birth date in “Taps” has been the year 1948. Why? Maybe Vietnam veterans are a unique generation to have not been welcomed home by our peers. It will never end for us until we all are dead.

Ronald E. Miller
Rapid City, South Dakota

NOT FORGOTTEN

Some time has gone by since my father has passed. After all this time, I do not want your organization to think we have forgotten you or your cause. I want to thank you for giving my father the best years of his life. I know he was happiest when he was involved in VVA activities. The cause and his fellow veterans were his life. I believe his spirit lives in every one of us.

My thoughts and prayers are with every one of you, and I thank you for all the support you have given to my family in my father’s life and after.

Ruth Molina
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

MOVIN’ ON

Having read John Prados’ article in the September/October issue on recently released material on the Gulf of Tonkin incident, I can only hang my head in disbelief. Why do we, as Vietnam veterans, care about this new information? Does it help us? Does it make us want to dig deeper for more declassified story lines? I think not.

After all of these years, what does it matter? Whatever transpired during that time, or didn’t, still had the same result. We escalated the war, and tens of thousands of brave Americans died as a result.

Why rehash it? It serves no purpose. We cannot change what those days in 1964 triggered. Move on with stories that really have an impact on us. The Gulf of Tonkin incident has taken up too much ink. Whether our government lied or didn’t, Vietnam happened. Let’s move on.

Gregory Smith
Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

WELCOME, BROTHERS

This is in response to the letter from John E. Fischer in the September/October issue of The VVA Veteran. I am a Vietnam-era veteran and have been a member of VVA since 1990. I am the First Vice President of Queens, New York, Chapter 32. We are a chapter of 285 members. This is the third time in 16 years I have been the Vice President, and from my first day as a member, I was welcomed as a brother. In my 16 years as a VVA member, I have never been treated any differently. If you are treated differently, you should talk to your State Council President.

Paul Narson
Via e-mail

ENEMIES

I just received the September/October issue. Again, what are you thinking? Who cares about Mao and Ho? Your publication is slowly going downhill. Keep this up, and you will not have many subscribers. I usually look forward to each issue, but I am getting my doubts. There are other people you can write about other than communists. In case you forgot, Mao and Ho were our enemies. Who is next, Hitler or Stalin? I would appreciate you doing some serious thinking before the next issue.

Willis Kortright
Via e-mail

TEAM WORK

Thanks for such an informative news publication. May it live forever. My husband, TSGT Jack H. Ratliff, USAF, Ret., our son, Schyler, and I are proud of our military members who served in country and of those who served in other areas in support of the Vietnam War. What a great team. We will forever be grateful to this team for the sacrifices they made for us. They and their families hold a special place in our hearts.

Cynthia Lee Manasco Ratliff
Cordova, Alabama

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