|Vietnam Veterans of America|
Heck Of A Homer
I am a retired 30-year public school science teacher; however, this year marks my fourth year teaching 8th grade science at a private school in Charlotte, N.C. I would have stopped teaching without Homer Hickam.
I served as an Army Medic and Signal Officer during Operation Desert Shield. Homer’s inspirational notes, life, curriculum, and books helped me and my students in the classroom for 30 years. He inspired me to keep teaching and overcome life’s challenges.
My best friend Bill retired from the 82nd Airborne and has PTSD. I asked Linda, Homer’s wife, if he could send a note to Bill to lift his sprits. In just a few days, my best friend was emotional when he called me to let me know he’d received the note. My generation owes so much to Vietnam veterans like Homer, his wife Linda, and the families who sacrificed and endured this war.
Homer, like so many Vietnam veterans, is one of our heroes. I am advocating for Homer Hickam to receive the Presidential Freedom Medal. He is most deserving, though I am sure he would say otherwise.
The Veteran is a wonderful publication, bar none to all other magazines — a job well-done, and so very informative as well. I’d like more information on how to acquire one of the quilts mentioned in the May/June issue. I am a permanently disabled Vietnam War veteran and would love to get a quilt.
Editor's Note: Members interested in learning more about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, may contact them by phone at 720-372-3517, or through their website www.QOVF.com. The organization is also on Facebook. To nominate a service member or living veteran for a quilt, go to https://www.govf.org/nominations-awards/
Apply, Apply, Apply
Long have I held suspicions that the large number of ailments I have might be connected to my service maintaining base telephone cables at Korat Royal Thai Air Base in 1967-68. Much of the job included digging up cable for repair or inspection, much of it around the base perimeter and flight line.
I mentioned this to a VFW Past Commander a couple of years ago, and he said that there was an article on that in The VVA Veteran and loaned me his copy. It indeed contained the article he mentioned, as well as a form to apply for VVA membership. I am now a proud member.
In March 2022, when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 multiple myeloma, I figured I would be considered 50 percent with other possible service-connected ailments. So I made an appointment with a Service Officer and applied. When I was classified, it came up: hearing loss, 10 percent; Diabetes, 70 percent; neuropathy, 80 percent; and cancer, 100 percent, a total of 260 percent disability.
They are paying me 100 percent and the lesson is to apply, apply, apply. You may deserve more than you think. I would like to engage in snail-mail pen pal correspondence with veterans incarcerated in the Justice System. There are parts of VVA that must live on if it is to be phased out.
Get Out Of Here
Robert Picard’s letter, “The Wrong Kind,” in the May/June issue struck a chord about the days after my discharge from the Army. I “was proud of my service in Vietnam in 1968-69. I live in a small town. When I tried to join the local VFW, I was told to get out. All of the World War II veterans said, “Hell, son, you were only in a conflict,” and my service “didn’t count.”
It was bad enough the way we were treated by the public, let alone fellow veterans. I could’ve crawled out of there with embarrassment.
So you were not alone, Robert. I also was the wrong kind. That’s why our Founding Principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” Welcome Home!
Operation End Sweep
I want to acknowledge the Marine and Navy personnel who were participating in operations in Vietnam waterways after March 31, 1973.
These troops did not receive the Vietnam Service Medal but are eligible for presumption of exposure to Agent Orange, having served in inland waterways. These operations started before March 1973 and continued through July 1973, costing a Navy sailor his life on July 4th.
I would like to make you aware of Michigan Senate Bill 0455, introduced by State Sen. Sam Singh, which would make disabled veterans and their surviving spouses eligible for the state Property Tax Exemption. I ask veterans who are not getting this earned exemption to contact their state legislators and urge them to support a bill of this type.
I would like to add my opinion on a question posed by President Jack McManus on National Service. Many countries make this a voluntary requirement, and I think this would be exactly what many of the younger generation need.
Learn From Experience
In the most recent VVA Veteran, Jack McManus asks for VVA members’ opinions about mandatory National Service. I strongly favor such a requirement, although I am concerned that its administration would be just as unfair as the 1960s-70s Selective Service.
As with Selective Service, the devil is in the details. Most important is that all youths (male, female, rich, poor) should be required to serve. Similarly, since equitable treatment is important, it is important for the type of service an individual is assigned be determined by a lottery or similar random selection to minimize the potential for the more privileged to obtain assignments that are more desirable.
On the other hand, some assignments based on a youth’s skills or talent might be reasonable as long as the skill and talents are verified.
A good age range for mandatory service might be 16-18 years, between high school and college or career. The service should be fulltime for at least one year. No time off to work on political campaigns.
Many thanks to Jerry Moreno for raising the issue of mandatory National Service with Jack McManus and the VVA’s position regarding it. Yes, VVA, please take a position supporting mandatory National Service. Conduct a survey of the members to see where they stand on the issue. Perhaps the survey can start at a National Convention.
As a 17-year-old high school graduate. I enlisted in the Army in 1969 for several reasons, one that it was my duty to serve. The legacy of my father and uncles who served during WWII was certainly a factor in my decision. I likely would not have been drafted and never paid any attention to my lottery number.
Division, dissension, and intolerance seem to be on the rise in our population. Could an all-volunteer military be used in the future by authoritarians to suppress democratic principles? Would citizen soldiers who choose the military as their mandatory National Service provide the balance to prevent that from happening? Perhaps.
My Army experience introduced me to a new world of people and places that were different from what I had experienced. It opened my eyes to the backgrounds of fellow soldiers and their lifestyles and gave me valuable exposure to other countries and cultures. I had to learn acceptance and inclusion to survive. I think this was the most important thing I learned during my service, and it could be a benefit to young Americans during mandatory National Service.
National Service does not necessarily have to be military service. There are many beneficial projects that could be completed in our nation by young people serving. If properly executed, they could economically benefit our nation, also.
Let’s bring back the tradition of serving our country, though it may not be a popular concept anymore. Expect a hue and cry.
Can VVA do National Service?
No. It’s a non-starter, in my humble opinion. It would be political suicide for any politician to endorse it.
The young are not dumb. They know about the Vietnam and Gulf wars and all the lives lost, all the treasure misspent, and America’s standing in the world since then. And let`s not forget the parents of these young people. Most will never approve of mandatory anything for their children or grandchildren. Politicians know this all too well.
A big “Thank You” for the article in the July/August issue about ROK Vietnam War veterans.
In 1967, I and my other Topographic Survey Marines were ordered to determine the exact position of the DMZ. Our group was right on the perimeter, next to a paddy and just across from a village that sent us rockets and mortars every night between before the VC attacked us across the paddy. We could fire back at the VC but not disturb the village.
That is, until the ROK Marines in two tanks arrived one afternoon. They were right next to our unit and we shared our beer rations with them. When the first mortars went off, we scrambled to our perimeter, and the ROK Marines took charge of their tanks. After six rounds of 155s hit the village, we never had a problem. They left the next morning with the whole base’s gratitude.
When I read Barbara Cho’s article, I was outraged. The ROK veterans should have received their just due long ago.
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