Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Ghost Are Coming Home To Those Of Us Who Thought We Had Left Them Somewhere Else

Easter should bring Hope but for many the despair is so overwhelming they can not see it. American Veterans commit 22 suicides per day. That's three times the national average.The VA study further shows that two-thirds of the veterans who kill themselves are 50 years old or older...the surge in the suicide rate for US veterans is not chiefly shaped by soldiers that recently fought in the US-led war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is still the legacy of Vietnam, ( Vietnam veterans would be 57 and older) and yet the VA wouldn't even say that in the report.  Why now would someone take their own life at least 40 years after the war they fought in?

Here are my personal thoughts:

1. Most are retiring or have retired.  Now they are discovering that retirement will bring a lessor life style.  Retirement brings the feeling of being less, not needed, finished with.  For many raising a family, working to provide for that family, and receiving feedback as to their value in doing so, supported their weight for having been in Nam.  It created a balance. Now that balance is poof-not there.

2. Their Vietnam veteran's friends are dying while their other friends of the same age live on.  The Blue Water Navy Group has estimated that out of all the "In-Country" Vietnam veterans (2.4 to 2.9 million) only about 800,000 or less are still alive. The Nam veterans life span on the average was estimated to be 63-65 or about 10 years less than those who were not there.  VA studies on the other hand dispute this.  But when the Nam veteran looks around, their friends are gone.

3. Dioxin (aka Agent Orange defoliant).  Not only has this toxin been killing Nam veterans it has brought them a life of reduced good health and psychological problems.  As the Nam veterans get older these effects accumulate.  The only real data on dioxin available to the public is that of a chemical plant producing it in Czechoslovakia in the 1960's. The effects experience by the workers exposed there are identical to those experience by Nam veterans. VA once again demurs and has only acted as much as they have because of congressional pressure.

4. PTSD, (Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder)... for the first 20 years after Nam PTSD didn't exist but it reeked havoc among 25-30% of those veteran who made it back home.  Now I think at this juncture of age and health and retirement it is returning big time. People who though it was under control are aghast to find their hate and anger and depression are up front and much greater than they have ever had.  Again it was the VA that drug their heels on this one and still don't quite believe it is there.  Personally i would even till this day want to talk to a VA psychologist about it.

5.Re-Rejection;  Now this is tricky and makes the Nam vet seem petty, except for the fact the wounds that are being opened are so very damn deep.  Most, heck all, Nam vets came back to a nation divide.  One side (the majority) cast them in the role of dupes, pot heads, and baby killers and were actually scared of them.  The other side praised them for killing Commies For Christ and tried to treat them like they would have the WWII returnees.  Neither side actually gave a shit about them or understood their war.  In many ways we were pariahs, the bad guys, the unstable parades..personal snubs when in uniform...many WWII & Korean veterans were outright hostile to the weaklings who had lost an American war thus those organizations that had supported returning veterans before were not available to the Nam vets.  No support from any quarter.  Not even each other for many years.  So here is the pettiness.  Every time that we see the troops lauded or praised, even though totally appropriate, it reminds us that we were treated the exact opposite.  It actually hurts.  Then we feel bad cause it hurts and we should be happy for them and  around it goes.

6.  Rejection by those who went before us.  As  alluded above regardless of their intent or not we felt betrayed by the WWII and Korean War veterans.  The nastiest things I had said to me after Nam were by these people.  Even old George H. Bush revealed his true feelings by claiming that Desert Storm erased the National embarrassment of the Vietnam War. We were the wusses and pansies that lost an American War.  The 50,000 dead were dishonored because we gave up before winning.

7. Stolen Honor:  Remember when America gave amnesty to all those draft doggers in Canada ?  I sure as hell did.  Remember when someone decided a couple decades too late that the Vietnam Veterans need to be welcomed home?  There were parades and shit and they meant nothing to us and then someone report that half of one parade was filled by other Vietnam Era Veterans that served Stateside or Europe of such.  Even worse there were all the people wearing the uniforms and ribbon who never served at all.  Wana-bes, who the hell wanted too imitate being a Vietnam Veteran.  It hadn't worked out too well for me being one, why fake being one.  I still can't figure out what the fakes get out of it, but they are there in droves.  It takes a real Vietnam Vet less than two minutes and one or two questions before we know that they are fakes.  Some, the younger ones, it takes maybe 10 seconds.

8. Clogging the VA System:  The Vietnam Vets ages 57 to what ever are clogging up the system and keep the newer Veterans from getting the help they need.  True , so true.  maybe the system should expand, hey?  But gee guys even when they VA talks about treating us and Agent Orange they us the terms "Presumptive" diseases.  You know, I spend the absolute minimum amount of time at the VA.  Maybe 5-6 hours total in 48 years.  I distrust them that much.

9. Forfeited Services:  We just won't claim whats due. Why, all of the above.  We are pissed at ourselves for not doing so, but can't bring ourselves to do it. So feeling like suicide, we just don't wander over to the VA for help.  Well it don't matter too much, many of my Vietnam veteran friends are already dead.  Presumptuously dead I should say because they died from presumptive causes.  When the median age for a population is 10 years less than the norm and almost every person in the population has come in contact will a deadly toxin that kills as it pleases over time, we should not expect a big bulk of that population to be around a very long time.

There were between 2.4 and 2.9 million military type in Vietnam (In Country) according to who the hell knows cause the Pentagon says they don't.  How many are left alive?  Pentagon says that they don't know but guesses it would be the same as as all other veterans of the same age.  In 2012 the "The Blue Water" Navy people said 800,000 out of 2.65 million ( that's the middle guess).  So how long will that < 800,000 take to finally go away?  Well there will be a remnant population for a long time to come.  I plan to live to be a 100 myself.  I want to be a curmudgeon, and I plan to make it. it don't matter none though because with all the fake Vietnam Veterans they are out there they will be people representing the Vietnam Vets in parades and such for another 50 years.

So, given everything that may normally cause a man to do away with himself, we have the above as well.  14 suicides a day.

Those are my thought, true or not.


drlobojo said...

Also posted some of this with link to here at my facebook page. Not much interest, in it based on reader data. That is really kind of how it goes about the whole deal. I pay someone to listen to me ever 2 to 4 weeks or so. She gets about $2.01 per minute. Of course I don't really tell her all that I feel or think. If I did she would have to up her bill to $10 per minute. The talking calms me down although I often, as I am leaving, feel like I have just been at a house of ill repute. I mean listening is an intimate activity, more so when you are supposed to be opening you soul to let the bile drain. Even though I could never do that, it does seem wrong to buy a "friend" to listen.

BB-Idaho said...

My understanding of the 'underside' of VN combat derives mostly from Bunting's
'The Lionheads' (The Lionheads is to say the least a rather unique book. It is a novel of the war in Vietnam, written by a member of the so called Establishment. But is so acid it burns to the touch. This acidity is not directed toward the war as such but to the military system, the Army in particular, that has been fighting it.) IMO, it was an unconventional war fought by conventional means, the last major
combat involving draftees. The
'why we fight' concept seemed muddled, since the VN inhabitants
had been at it with the French for
years prior and had their own internecine quarrels. The brass
viewed it in terms of promotion
benefits and the riflemen fought
for what they have always fought:
their buddies. Robert McNamara directed things from a business
cost/benefit ratio and John Wayne
played an out of shape green beret. I've heard the tales of
several old WWII fellows; it was
fierce, but relatively short and
the Nazis were easy to hate. IMO,
VN remains enigmatic. I was
discharged in '66, never left the country and although I changed from a proponent to a naysayer,
I always respected the soldiers
who fought there. It was a job,
a hard job, a disheartening job, a dangerous job. There are some in this country eager to send troops hither and yon; the same
who ignore and neglect them when
they return. They not young soldiers, deserve our derision.