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

September/October 2005 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 Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.
   
 
HAPPY RETURN
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 hearts.

Rayís sisters, Janice and Dawn
Via e-mail

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.

Dennis King
Via e-mail


FALLING APART
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.

Helen White
Via e-mail


WOUNDS UNTENDED
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 ante up.

Randall Miller
Fairbanks, Alaska


FACE SLAP
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 receiving.

This is a slap in the face to all veterans.

Earl L. Pitman, Jr.
Orange Springs, Florida


UNEXCUSED ABSENCE
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.

Jim Anders
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.

Ronald Taylor
Huntsville, Texas


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 government.
William Sellers
Via e-mail

   

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