National Vietnam War Veterans Day

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is observed on Sunday, March 29, 2020. The  Vietnam War Commemoration Honors U.S. Armed Forces personnel with who served in the military between November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location of service. This totaled nine million Americans that served during that time.

The United States withdrew active troops from Vietnam in 1973 after the Paris Peace Accords were signed, however, U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War did not end until the fall of Saigon, April 30, 1975.

The Vietnam War took the lives of over 58,000 American service members and wounded in excess of 150,000. For the people who served during Vietnam and survived the indescribable horrors, coming home had its own kind of distress. Some veterans say that they were called “baby killers”, others were spit on. Vietnam veterans were met with absolutely none of the ceremony and received none of the benefits that were given other veterans. Because of this, I felt unappreciated and it took me several years to discuss my service during this difficult time in US history.

When I got out of the Navy in the early 70’s, I needed a home for my young family. After a bit of looking, I found a place for us. As a veteran, I was promised a VA guaranteed mortgage to buy a home. So I filled out all the appropriate paper work, attached a copy of my DD-214 and applied for one. Shortly thereafter I received a nice letter confirming that due to my service, and honorable discharge, I was eligible for the VA mortgage.

After a bit more time, I received a letter from the VA that said the house I was interested in was worth what I was going to pay. Whoo Hoo, second hurtle cleared. A week later I opened my mail and read that my VA loan was rejected. That’s all it said. No explanation why.

So I called the VA to ask just what the heck (not the word I used) was going on. They looked up my file and told me I hadn’t been at my present job for 12 months. I very politely replied (not so politely) that I had just gotten out of the service a few months ago and had a job within a week of getting home. I told them they can shove their program where the sun don’t shine.

For many veterans, the impact of the war carried over to civilian life. Approximately one third of veterans said that they had difficulty paying their bills shortly after leaving the service and around thirty percent say they had received unemployment compensation during the transition. Twenty percent said that they struggled with alcohol or substance abuse shortly after their discharge.

A few years after I tried to get a mortgage, my daughter was having a medical problem. The doctors thought she had bone cancer in her leg. Unfortunately, I was between jobs and had no medical insurance at the time. Once again I reached out to the VA and explained my situation. Their answer was not quite what I had wanted. It boiled down to the fact that I was S.O.L. (Sorry, Out of Luck, what did you think I meant?)

Every year, the U.S. military enlists around 175,000 young Americans and they promise to take care of those who serve. Today, this promise is upheld in the moral code of each branch of the service. Members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard pledge to never leave a fallen comrade behind.

After their discharge, the Department of Veterans Affairs is charged with fulfilling this very same promise on behalf of a grateful nation. The problem, however, is that many veterans have difficulty accessing these programs. The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated that 107,000 veterans are homeless in the United States every night. In my opinion, just one homeless veteran is too many.

At one time, I needed a medical device due to my having cancer. I read that the VA supplied these to veterans, so I called them. I asked the person who answered the phone if they did in fact supply these. An easy question that required an easy answer, yes or no. This person said they could not tell me over the phone but if I would fill out some paperwork that they would send me, they could give me an answer. When the paperwork arrived, there were pages of questions to answer. I also wanted a copy of my DD-214, just to get an answer to my question. All I needed was a simple answer.

We owe veterans more than just a handshake and a slap on the back. Congress and the next administration needs to fix the existing VA system and take the necessary steps to make sure that our U.S. military veterans receive the support and care that they deserve

I think it is time for the U.S. government to honor the promise they made to our veterans. As a veteran, I fulfilled my side of the contract and I think it is their turn to keep theirs… or give me back my four years.

Norb is a proud navy veteran. Who chased Russian subs during his tour of duty.

Kindness

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You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Glen Campbell 1969:

I recently ended up on the ground as I was on my way to a medical appointment. My legs just gave out. Several kind people came to my aid and they even called an ambulance for me. It got me thinking about kindness. There are many ways to show kindness.

When you find yourself waiting in a line in a supermarket and there is someone behind you with just a few items you let them go ahead of you. It won’t take much of your time and could make someone’s day. Be courteous.

When I used to take bike rides thru the city, I would greet people I would see sitting on their porch. They would always say hello back. Say hello to strangers when you walk past them on the street. Be friendly.

Yours truly walked into a local food bank with some cash and gave it to them. Donate anonymously. Just the act of giving is all the reward you should need. Most of us have clothing we have out grown or don’t wear anymore. Donate your used clothing to charity. It feels good to know you are helping someone out even if you don’t know them. Also you can donate your used vehicle to a worthy cause. Be charitable.

Upon witnessing three soldiers in desert camo going into a local sandwich shop, I circled the block and went in and paid for their meal. When I see a veteran with a ball cap indicating they had been in the service, I go out of my way to thank them. This also happens to me as well when I wear my Vietnam veterans’ hat. Make every day Veteran’s Day. Be thankful.

While working at a super market in my youth, one of my jobs was to go on “cart patrol”. It was especially aggravating to have to get dressed in my winter coat, hat and boots to retrieve that one cart someone had left in the furthest corner of the parking lot. Return the cart to the store or the cart corral if they have one. Be considerate.

Speaking of shopping carts, I give my cart to someone at Aldi and when they offer me the quarter, I refuse and tell them to pass it on. Sometimes I just push it into the cart collection area and walk away, leaving the quarter in it. It’s just a quarter, It’s not going to bankrupt me. Be thoughtful.

My wife likes flowers so I try to keep fresh cut flowers in the house every day of the year. Give flowers to someone for no particular reason at all. Be loving.

We all get frustrated in traffic at one time or another. However, simply because traffic is moving slowly doesn’t mean that we can’t let another driver into your lane. One additional car in front of you isn’t going to make you arrive any earlier or later. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves or shovel the snow for a senior citizen and surprise them. When I was younger, I used to snow blow all the way around the block. I figured I was dressed and out in the cold anyway, why not help people out. Be kind.

The next time you hear someone sneeze, say “Bless you” whether you know them or not. People rarely do this anymore. Be polite.

At some point in time, we’ve all had to call a handyman to help us out. The next time someone is at your house fixing something, offer them a cold drink. Let them know you value the work they are doing for you. You might get a higher level of service in gratitude and maybe the bill will be a bit lower. I know, I used to run a handyman business myself. Be appreciative.

Hold the elevator for someone. The few minutes you wait for someone will not affect your day but it may improve theirs. Be nice.

I have taken extra coupons to a fast food restaurant and give them to families with children or older couples. If you have extra coupons give them to other customers. Stop at a kid’s lemonade stand and buy a drink. It’s usually only a quarter. You will make them smile. Servers make their living on tips. Leave a big tip and the next time you go you might be treated well. Be generous.

Telling someone you like their work, their outfit or their haircut is the cheapest form of kindness there is. Acts of thoughtfulness generally cost you little and can make a person’s day better. Be Complementary.

Recently, I was at a Dance recital. At intermission, I had gone out to get something to drink and they were selling iced, bottled water for a dollar a bottle as a fund raiser. Unfortunately, the cooler was on the floor. Being as I have a balance issue, I asked the person in front of me to get me a bottle of water. She handed me the one they had gotten for themselves and bent over to get one for herself. When she did this I slid my way around and cut in front of her. I can only imagine what she was thinking. When it came time to pay, I paid for both of our drinks.

One good turn deserves another. Kindness starts with just one person holding open a door for another one and that person passing it on.