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September/october 2008

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Thank you for your story on Craig Venter—an amazing man. I had no service in Vietnam or anywhere near Vietnam, but I salute those who did.
As a corpsman in a very drastic situation, he stood up to the task at hand. As he mentioned in the article, others in his unit did as well.

Unlike myself, as well as some others in their past military life, he got it all right and went on to a distinguished career. I know many other Vietnam and Vietnam era veterans did as well. Some of us just fell far short of our goals in this life.

He said, in the article, his motivation was those individuals who did not make it home alive. That is the reason I’ve made it to The Wall three times. I had to pay my respects to those who didn’t make it home.

Richard Simmons

I was quite disappointed to open my copy of The VVA Veteran and find an article celebrating the fact that the liars and malcontents of the 1960s and 1970s were now putting on a show about the Iraq War.

I also noted the claim that there was strict vetting of credentials for those appearing. Well, good, at least they won’t embarrass themselves again by taking “testimony” from people who weren’t in the war zone or weren’t in the rank and position they claimed as happened during the first Winter Soldier.
I also note the smugness offered to readers when, having found someone in the audience who wanted to protest the travesty, their goons “frog-walked” him out. So much for free speech and inclusion.

Please spare us any more stories about the America-haters. We hear from them daily as it is. The overwhelming majority of veterans served honorably and proudly, then they came back and made respectable lives.

Lee Parsons
Via E-mail

Thanks to Bill Crandell for his incisive comments in “Iraq: Vietnam Without Water.” And thanks also to VVA for providing a forum for veterans of conscience to express their feelings against the war. Many of our brothers feel that invading Iraq because of 9-11 would have been like invading Brazil because of Pearl Harbor.

Let no one in our ranks doubt the valor and dedication of our gallant troops. Yet, as William F. Buckley, Jr., once said, “There is no way to get around the grotesque historical fact, which is that soldiers fight heroically no matter the character of the government they serve.” Or in the words of Albert Einstein: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” You have lit a single candle for truth, Bill.

Edward J. Kesgen
Sylva, North Carolina

Bill Crandell is entitled to his opinions in “Iraq: Vietnam Without Water,” but Iraq is vastly different from Vietnam. The original Winter Soldier stuff, which had an entirely dubious connection to any factual foundation, contributed to negative stereotypes of veterans and to the employment discrimination of the 1970s.

If Vietnam Veterans of America continues its drift to the ideological left, it will lose half of its membership and a lot of its moral authority.

Jim Anderson
Via E-mail

After I read the article on Iraq Veterans Against the War, I had to take a few days to regain my composure before I responded.

Bill Crandell’s one-sided coverage stated parallels with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971, but failed to mention that Jane Fonda provided the majority of funding and that much of the testimony was proven false. Crandell wrote that the participants who gave testimony in March 2008 were carefully screened, but he neglected to include that validation of service and testimony was the major purpose for the presence of Eagles UP, whom he tried to paint as a insignificant group of pro-war, fair-weathered old men and women.

In Crandell’s coverage of the IVAW testimony, I didn’t read about atrocities, I only saw necessary self-defense protocol. Did I miss something?

We are fighting an enemy who hides among the civilian population. I’m not saying there aren’t those who abuse their authority, but most soldiers value life and don’t use deadly force indiscriminately. Regarding Crandell’s dismissal of the “baby killers” label placed on Vietnam veterans, it’s certainly hurtful when coming from the mouths of ignorant civilians. But when it comes from fellow veterans, it is a betrayal. You, as a veterans advocate, should know that.

Bob Schaffer
Via E-mail

Congratulations on “Iraq: Vietnam Without Water” in your last issue. I may not always agree with the subjects and issues you present in your magazine, but I am confident that of all the publications available to veterans, The VVA Veteran presents the best and most stimulating coverage—better that all the other veterans’ organizations.
Besides that, you’re looking better than ever.

David Hardy
Via E-mail

I’d like to give a well-deserved thank-you to the VA. All too often I’ve read that the VA is doing a lousy job, nobody cares, they are understaffed, etc., etc. I’m a Vietnam veteran, 1968-69, and have had several strokes beginning in 1989. In 1989 I had two mini strokes and one big one. All was well until October of 2007, when I had another mini stroke. I then got hooked up with the VA in Lorain, Ohio, and in my opinion the quality of treatment and caring has been outstanding.

A month ago I had a stress test at the Wade Park VA in Cleveland and they detected a heart abnormality. They are working with my family doctor and between the two of them I’m confident I’m getting the best care possible. Also, my prescriptions are much cheaper than they are through my insurance at work.

Every time I talk to another veteran, I tell him how good the VA has been to me.

John Fuller
North Olmsted, Ohio

I have been diagnosed with diabetes, and it has continually worsened. I was put on pills, then insulin. I was put on Novolin 70/30, gained 50 pounds, and refused to take it any longer. They then put me on Novolin NPH. My sugars continued to rise, and they continued to increase my dosage.

The thugs at the Iowa City VAMC wanted me to add Novolin R. But the R component had put the 50 pounds on me. I was seen in 2004 by the Iowa City Endo department and asked to try something else such as Lantis. The intern was willing to try me on it, but when he went to the doctor over him, the doctor denied the Lantis, saying it cost too much.

I am service-connected for diabetes. I spent two tours in Vietnam in the heaviest sprayed areas for Agent Orange. This is the way the “communists” of this government do their veterans. They continued to increase my Novolin NPH, even though my sugars continue to rise.

I have an appointment soon with Endo, and I am insisting on trying a different kind of medication. The Government Affairs article in the July/August issue came just at the right time. Believe me, I am taking a copy of it with me, and I am refusing to leave without a different type of insulin.

You are so right when you say the VA is again being “penny wise and pound foolish.” My diabetes has been uncontrolled for over five years just because they wanted to save some money. They don’t care what it does to my health.

Virgil Bedwell
Via E-mail

I am a Vietnam-era veteran and have been a member of Chapter 380 in Marquette County, Mich., for several years. I never really felt a part of VVA, not having been in country, though a few of the members say I am.
A couple years ago I started an Honor Guard for military funerals. After a year or so, we started an AVVA group and all was going well until recently, when a few VVA members started complaining. The complainers wanted to prevent AVVA members from carrying any flag but the state or AVVA flag.
If they are not going to do anything with or for the chapter, what right do they have to decide who carries our flags? After being stabbed in the back and forced out of positions, I quit Chapter 380.
I guess being an era vet really means nothing. You’re right: I wasn’t in ’Nam. But I have to live with that thought in my mind.

R.B. Lambert
Via E-mail



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