The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

March/April 2003 POLICY FOR LETTERS

Letters

We welcome letters to the editor for publication in The VVA Veteran. We are interested in your criticism as well as your praise. Letters may be edited for purposes of clarity or space. Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.
   
 
PUPPETS AND FOOLS

The VVA Veteran is like having all my friends talk to me, like a visit. It's great. But when I turned to the Letters section in the November issue, I couldn't believe that veterans would be trying to make themselves better by putting down other veterans for whatever reason. In-country, era, the rest of Asia and Europe--who cares?

Here in this prison, some of the staff say that we are no longer veterans because we did wrong and came to prison. Then there are those of us doing time who set values on who is a better convict by what crime we did or didn't commit. The prison system loves this mentality because it keeps us separated, and we don't accomplish anything for our own good.

I served with the 101st Airborne Division, 230th Artillery, and was an RTO and later did the FO job with the 1st/327th infantry, Alpha Company, 1967-68. Let me tell you something: Veterans are veterans, no matter where you were assigned. It isn't any big thing being an in-country Vietnam veteran. The pain of seeing our brothers die and having to kill others doesn't make us better veterans anymore than not serving in Vietnam makes you less of a veteran. Arguing over this issue makes us puppets and fools.

Kurt Gehring
Oregon State Penitentiary
Salem, Oregon

YOU'RE WELCOME

After reading the article "Adult-Onset Diabetes Added To The List" by Veterans Benefits Director Leonard J. Selfon in last year's The VVA Veteran, I started adding things up such as dates and times of illnesses. I am 54 years old and did not contract adult-onset diabetes until the age of 51. Having no family history of diabetes, I thought this was strange.

I served in the U. S. Army in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1969-70 in an area where I may have been exposed to Agent Orange. I filed a VA Compensation and Pension Claim in January 2002. In December I received a letter from the VA stating that the claim for service-connected compensation was decided in my favor.

I am thankful to VVA for printing articles such as the one mentioned above, because--as we all know--the VA is not going to call and say, "You may have been exposed to harmful herbicides. Please come in and file a claim." Thank you and keep up the good work.

Kenneth H. Bodine
Via e-mail


WE CARE

This is for Marty Cacioppo, who says ["Letters,'' December 2002] he knows how much wearing old uniforms and patches means to us. Do you know that we wear our colors because we are proud that we served? We have always been patriots. We care less about the negative feelings that stereotype us. We care about treatment for the medical and psychological disorders affecting us as a result of our service in the Vietnam War. We care about helping homeless vets and cutbacks at the VA Medical Centers.

To say the words, "Welcome home,'' to a Nam vet who has his or her colors on can only be understood by another Nam vet. A suit will not hide your emotions; don't worry about what people think about us. We did our jobs. Marty, you belong to a very exclusive club. Membership requires that you were there.

Allen Toussaint
Via e-mail


BURY ME IN DRESS BLUES

I would like to respond to Mr. Cacioppo. I really don't think the sight of many service persons from several conflicts wearing their uniforms indicates one way or another who they were or are today except as may be expressed in the personal pride with which they present themselves.

We have been used to difficult questions of greater import than his today--from friends and families, at the schools where our children have asked us to speak, and with the questions we ask among ourselves--the great questions of where we stand today as a nation and what the future may hold. As for me, I'm thinking about finally getting fitted for the dress blues I never owned to wear the day I'm laid to rest, pinned with my ribbons, patched with the stripes I once wore with
pride.

Stewart Resmer
via e-mail


NO MATTER WHERE YOU SERVED

I am a Vietnam-era veteran who has been an active member of VVA Chapter 32 since
1989. I have been a board member starting in 1990 and have served in different jobs on the executive board. I'm writing to let the membership know that from the day I joined VVA I have always been treated as an equal. There was never anything said about me not being a Vietnam vet because I spent three years in Germany as a member of an infantry division. It has always been that anyone who served during the years of the Vietnam War, no matter where they served, is a Vietnam vet.

Paul Narson
Queens, New York


BEING THERE

In our chapter in Wisconsin, all the members are pretty good at treating everyone as equals. But when we go to events that include in-country vets, I hear a lot of negative things about the guys who never went to Vietnam. I was on a bomb crew on Guam when we were bombing Vietnam. We did our jobs with pride to keep the bombers flying to support the ground troops. We get no credit for any of the things other support groups did during the war. In the eyes of a lot of in-country vets, we were nothing.

Sometimes I'm tempted to quit the chapter because of the feelings the in-country vets have towards us. I joined VVA because I thought I was a Vietnam vet because of the years I was in the Air Force, 1966-1970. But I guess I'm wrong. I guess you had to be there to be called a Vietnam vet.

Tom Konieczko
Racine, Wisconsin


BON VOYAGE

Thank you, VVA, for your generous donation to the SDIT Vietnam trip. My role in this historic voyage is that of a widow. My husband, Army Corp. Anthony Noah Conti, died July 15, 1968, near Pleiku. I will have a chance to visit the place where he died. I plan to gather a bit of soil to give to my (and his) grandson some day.

Your donation will make it possible for us to enjoy several events, including a dinner, cruise, a reception on China Beach, and a U.S. Ambassador's reception in Hanoi. A deep bow to you all.

Lorri Zanni
Pittsburgh, Pa.


NOT ASHAMED

This is in regard to the letter "The Image'' by Marty Cacioppo in the December issue. First, Tom Corey, in his President's Message, states that we are all veterans and we will stand and remember our fellow veterans and all who served. Second, I served 22 years in the Army and Army National Guard, and [Cacioppo] tells me to leave the fatigues at home next Veterans Day? I earned the right to wear this uniform on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

I became disabled for life in Vietnam, so I do not think you are qualified to tell me how to dress. Maybe you are ashamed of your service in Vietnam. I'm not and never will be. Keep your comments to yourself.

Bernie Klemanek
Chardon, Ohio


THE BEAR

I appreciated the article regarding black officers of the Vietnam War in the January/February issue, particularly the story of LTC James T. Bradley who commanded 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, "Wolfhounds.'' I was privileged to serve under his command as the First Platoon Sergeant in Delta Co. in 1969. LTC Bradley was a fine officer and commander. However, I had never heard of him being referred to as "Ambush.'' He was known as the "Bear.'' He wrote a valued official memorandum for me about a year later while he was serving in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I was saddened to hear that he had died a few years ago of a heart attack. 

Charles Welby Green
Indianapolis, Indiana


DRAFT IN HERE

On January 7, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said that those conscripted into the service during the Vietnam War added "no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services.'' Aside from the obvious ridiculousness of this statement, there is another, less obvious, dimension. A great many soldiers, sailors, and airmen joined the service simply because there was a draft. Rather than be drafted, they joined so they would have some choice in how they served.

John Blake
Plymouth, Minnesota


A GENUINE LEADER

When I saw the cover of the January/February issue, I was anxious to read what was written about the late Gen. Davison of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. I was a Headquarters Platoon MP. Gen. Davison was a genuine leader and soldier who was admired by his men. One morning at dawn while standing guard, the General appeared at my post, and we proceeded to talk for about fifteen minutes. It wasn't a General-to-PFC talk, but more of a soldier-to-soldier or father-to-son-type talk.

The memory of that fifteen minutes and the impact it made on me is still fresh in my mind today. It should be noted that after his retirement, Gen. Davison instituted a program through Howard University to help homeless men in the Washington, D.C., area. Thank you again for the fine tribute to a fine man and soldier.

Ronald E. Ball
Bremen, Ohio


COOKS' DELIGHT

Your article on wannabes sure hit home. A local group called the Marion County Vietnam Veterans had statues made and placed in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Marion County Parks in Fairmont. The statues depict three infantrymen: one holding an M-16, one holding an M-79, and one kneeling after being wounded. Three guys had the gall to have their names put on the statues. They were in Vietnam, but they weren't infantry--they were cooks. Marion County lost 27 men in Vietnam. The three names carved in these statues not only take away the honor due the 27, but also glorify wannabes.

Frank Pecjak
Morgantown, W.Va.
 

   

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