Thank you, VVA, for your exceptionally hard work, travel,
and efforts in the return of the remains of our brother,
Lance Corporal Raymond T. Heyne, who fought at Ngoc Tavak.
It is greatly appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of our
Rayís sisters, Janice and Dawn
MAKING IT HAPPEN
Thanks for all you are doing to make known what happened
to our heroes and what is being done to bring them home. I
am the younger brother of Cpl. Gerald E. King, who was one
of the Marines lost in the Battle of Kham Duc/Ngoc Tavak. I
learned on June 23 that his remains had been identified, and
I met with the casualty division on July 13 for a briefing.
I am grateful to Tim Brown and Cpt. White for their role in
making this great thing happen.
The VA is grossly underfunded and understaffed. The
emphasis seems to have been on decreasing expenses, rather
than on planning for rapidly growing patient populations.
The Iraq War has been going on for about three years.
Perhaps the numbers of wounded, injured, and ill veterans
have surprised many people. But the present and expected
numbers have not enlarged our VA medical care opportunities.
VA facilities are being closed or allowed to fall apart.
Even with increased funding, it will take time to recruit
and educate staff. Some of the VAMCs are not well maintained
or up to date.
I strongly emphasize the need to
write our elected officials. In our communications, we need
to identify ourselves and the great trauma this is creating
for us now.
The way that we have treated our veterans of combat
suggests that their lives remain a notch lower in value than
the lives of the rest of us. In each war since our country
began, some soldiers have been left behind. Not on the
battlefield. We have expended tremendous effort to ďbring
our boys home.Ē But what about after?
The reintegration of these lives
into the society for which they risked all remains our duty
and our promise to our soldiers. There should be a seamless
transition from induction to duty to battle to the return to
family and civilian. My experience as a physician with the
VA indicates that this is not always the case. The tragedy
of the Vietnam War, a war our society has yet to come to
grips with, left many that I see each day, each week, with
open wounds yet untended.
It is my responsibility as a VA
physician, and it is our responsibility as a nation, to
honor these men and women, not only in their departure, not
only in their day-to-day lives while in conflict, but also
upon their return. We must be ready with services that span
the spectrum of life experience, from medical to educational
to spiritual. These are our sons and daughters. They are you
and me, but for the grace of God. Ask yourself: When does a
soldier stop being a soldier? It is time that we as a nation
I am totally outraged that the VA has the gall to suggest a
new investigation of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. It is
obvious they are completely insensitive to those who have
been traumatized by PTSD. Donít they realize the impact it
will have on the veterans who suffer from this horrible
disease and the impact on families of deceased veterans who
have Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits and
education benefits for their children? If they go after
these veterans, letís not prejudice others: verify Purple
Heart wounds all over again, and then go after Bronze Star
Medal awards, the Silver Stars, and the Medal of Honor.
Bring in the amputees and count their missing limbs to make
sure they are not receiving benefits they should not be
This is a slap in the face to
Earl L. Pitman, Jr.
Orange Springs, Florida
Michael Keatingís interesting articles on incarcerated
members in the July/August issue were marred by only one
thingóthe absence of mention of crime victims. Yes, there
are a few victimless crimes. However, most crimes do involve
victims. If we humanize the criminals because they are
veterans, we have a related obligation to humanize the crime
victims by at least naming them and discussing their ages,
their jobs, etc. Even where the crime is murder, the murder
victim will have surviving family members. I love the work
done by Vietnam Veterans of America for veterans. But we
must remember that it isnít just criminals who are real
human beings. Crime victims had hopes and dreams and
ambitions in life as well.
New York City
CHOICES AND RESPONSIBILITY
I want to thank the entire staff at VVA for being
concerned. Iím incarcerated in a Texas prison, and have been
in and out since leaving the service in 1981. Iíve made some
bad choices in my life, and I accept responsibility for
being here. But I believe that the PTSD I suffer from after
six years of service in which I and many others around me
were self-medicating cost me my military career.
What help is there for me? My
family and my church family have not supported me since Iíve
been here, seven years now. Perhaps my military family can
and will help.
REMEMBER THE PUEBLO
The USS Pueblo was captured by North Korean naval
forces in January 1968. Captain Lloyd Bucher and his crew
were held for over a year where they were tortured and
mistreated. Captain Bucher was called a coward for
surrendering to an overwhelming force that would have killed
the whole crew had he not given up. The ship was in
international waters when it was captured; our government
did nothing to get these men; and the North Koreans still
have the ship. These men were also betrayed by our