June 7, 2007
d day poster  WHAT WE NEED IS A WAR

The not so secret saying among Vietnam vets during the aftermath of Vietnam and our shabby treatment was, "What we need is a war."

To vets, this meant war would bring attention to the plight of veterans. This is exactly what we are seeing now with the emphasis by Congress on veteran treatment.

If the Vietnam vet has any legacy, it has to be that Americans who care never want to see the present day vet treated as badly as we were.

As most of us search for anything positive about Iraq, I think I might have found something. The thought was given to me by a doc friend of mine who served with me in Vietnam. He said something like, "What most people don't realize is that those of us who served in Vietnam and came back and made a life for ourselves in medicine are usually ten times better and more experienced doctors than those who didn't have Vietnam".

Why?

Cpl. Adam Kokesh, right, shakes hands with disabled Iraq War veteran Tomas Young as he meets with supporters during Kokesh's hearing at the Marine Corps Mobilization Command Monday, June 4, 2007, in Kansas City, Mo. Kokesh, who is a member of the Individual Ready Reserve which consists mainly of those who have left active duty but still have time remaining on their eight-year military obligation, is facing administrative action for uniform violations and disrespecting a superior officer. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Mainly it's the experience. Just think about it as my bud went on to say, "Had we been in the states in an emergency room or going through some sort of specialty training, we would have seen the normal sorts of medical difficulties; but in Vietnam, we saw everything and had to do things that we'd never have gotten a chance to see or do as civilians. I discovered that I was so far more advanced than other medical types when I returned. Where they might see two or three cases a day of a particular trauma, I was involved in twenty-five in Nam."

THINK IRAQ. Based on my friend's comment, imagine what we are and will be seeing from our present war. For one thing, a flood of wounded GIs, those who would probably have died on the battlefield, are now saved because of new technology, new techniques, and the ability to get to wounded soldiers almost immediately( Of course, this doesn't account for the traumatic psychological wounds that will inevitably result.)

The "bean counters" are already tallying up what it's going to cost. For us vets, we "get it" better than most. After Vietnam, vets had to fight for every single thing. Many died before their claims could even be processed. It was shameful, and, like all wars, when Vietnam was over, the mantra was, "Let's shrink the military and send the soldiers home and forget about them." At least Congress has appropriated over six billion for vets benefits and claims. It appears like we have at least learned a few things.

There's great lessons in all of this. When a country goes to war, they don't think about the aftermath. We've learned that for many combat soldiers, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) occurs long after the combat is over. I've seen many of my buddies, now 40 plus years after Vietnam, who still suffer the traumas of war and many of them are still dealing with it on their own. WHY? Well, there are lots of reasons, mainly among Vietnam vets, the feelings of old about how much a hassle it is to try and get anything out of the VA(Veterans Administration).

The VA has changed for the better; however, but still, the future for Iraqi vets is NOW and we must prepare. We vets, especially VietVets, are watching. KT




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