Tag Archives: military

Not gone, but forgotten

The popular perception of the Viet Nam veteran is incomplete. The most important character in contemporary American history is missing. I’ll try real hard to focus, and not stray into reasons, my aim is to target heroes who will make you question everything you thought you knew about war, hero’s, and the home front.

This is sort of a fleshing out for a book. I’m writing a blurb now due to the overwhelming efforts of folks trying to portray the Viet Nam veteran as a victim, or some vest wearing patch junky on a motorcycle letting their steel hair blow in the breeze.

There is a group of Viet Nam Veterans that never came home. They remain lost in popular narratives about victimization or heroism. They didn’t die, they didn’t return home, and weren’t prisoners of war. These are the “vets” who re enlisted time and again until they completed a career.

Some did single tours, others multiple tours. They went on to create the most professional military the world had seen. They trained soldiers with the lessons they learned tactically and politically creating leaders who embraced a volunteer military concept.

I won’t give away all their secrets in this article. I will say they created a military that was feared. All those nations out there were afraid to cross paths with the American military. The Viet Nam era leader developed, trained, and evaluated their respected branches to excellence based on lessons learned.

One real personal reminder for me is General Powell. During his tenure the “Mogadishu” incident occurred. After this action General Powell was adamant about not going into a mission without an exit plan and ROE was something to be evaluated as to how it would hinder the units ability to accomplish their mission. Hanging service members out to dry was not acceptable.

This is just one example of the immense changes the Viet Nam Leaders implemented to create a professional volunteer military. I’m certain they had their share of negative situations returning to their home bases. PTSD was “shellshocked” and they took care of each other within the structure of the military. Politics plagued them for a time. In the end leaders rose as did confidence and trust was established.

The Viet Nam service member who stayed for the long haul and collectively created a professional, feared, volunteer military is an American character lost in the current climate of the glory seeking compartmentalized veteran mentality seeking to start an organization for every facet of service. The commercialization and politicization of military service has little to gain from service members who are “ok” and so “ok” they created a volunteer military the world could only dream of creating.

These service members are in living rooms and on front porches around the country. They rest easy, or hard, on the knowledge they persevered with dignity. They went back to hometowns or created hometowns and are sitting around watching the world they helped create.

I hope more folks will highlight these hero’s. They are the real examples that will keep our nation free. They know how to persevere with diligence and dignity. We need to hear more about how they transitioned and trained an all volunteer force and created peace for decades.


Open Letter

Open letter:
I’ve never done an open letter before, but I feel a gap in the veteran narrative that’s close to my heart. There’s a group of service members, soldiers in my case, who’ve quietly slipped away beneath the quest of writers, reporters, and business men looking to make a buck trying to turn service members into victims.

I salute those Viet Nam era service members who gave the ultimate for their country. Some joined and some were drafted. I imagine the fought for the person to their left and right, which culminated in a national effort. Our country was a little off kilter then, like now, so many weren’t pleased with the civilian leadership, like now. Regardless, their honor and sacrifice is part of a time honored tradition.

I felt bad for those soldiers coming home to negative publicity and personal attacks. They didn’t deserve that. There was a real national threat, it just didn’t involve any actions by the enemy that folks could foresee, they were just beginning the whole “immediate gratification”thing back then. It’s easy to see how dangerous the world was in light of what we know now about the Cold War.

The folks who slipped through are the ones that didn’t come home. They didn’t die. They saw it through to the end and the lessons they learnt about men, materials, and tactics would stay with them forever. They stayed the course, reenlisted, and began the work of building a professional military.

This is where I came in, 1979. Right before Reagan came into office and these warriors put on their professional hats and used the money and freedom afforded them to train the most feared military in history. This is not an exaggeration, no country would make a move for 30 some years. If they did jump, they were put down with speed, precision, and violence of action, no messing around.

The Viet Nam Era leaders created this military that created years of peace. They spared no feelings or considerations when it cam to training and equipping their soldiers. Most importantly they embedded the “Lead by Example” mentality in generations of service members.

These guys went on to retire and moved into the civilian world quietly and confident that they left things better than they found them. I joined in 79 and retired in 98. I can tell you that it was two different militaries I served in.
My most proudest moment was when our soldiers executed the “100 day war” and again put down aggression with professional speed, precision, and violence of action. I’m proud because I passed those lessons I learnt from the Viet nam Era soldiers onto those soldiers and they performed flawlessly. I was not present at this war. I had retired and was teaching at the time, but I was proud!

If you read this by chance pass it on. There are millions of Viet Nam Era service members out there silently reminiscing in this success. There are millions of relatives that proudly display photos of these leaders in their homes. Let’s not forget them either, they stayed the course and gave us many years of peace through their strength of conviction. For this I am proud to have served under the Viet Nam era soldiers and am eternally grateful for those that humbly served our nation creating decades of peace.

With Respect
A fellow soldier

P.S. Would some leader, historian, or political figure please go back and read over General Powell’s comments on never going into action without an exit strategy. He brought that lesson to light after Mogadishu I believe!!!!

Shadow Vets

Are Viet Nam and Korean era vets still sitting in the dark unnoticed. We need the truth about vet suicide and hyperbole like “22 a day”! We need this truth from the Veterans Administration, not these groups, organizations, or charities looking to start a business off the backs of service members.

I’m proud to have served with the Viet Nam era soldier as my leaders. The work we did to uphold and improve training, leadership, and morale over our careers set the stage for the “100 Day War” and subsequent wars in the Middle East. The success of these wars is a direct reflection of the “Viet nam era” soldier who stayed the course and became leaders in the Army.

After researching veteran suicides and PTSD in today’s headlines it seemed as though we were leaving these “vets” behind again. At first glance you’d think there was a serious recruiting problem with the numbers being thrown around. In reality many of these numbers are misleading and when that happens someone usually gets left behind.

Any veteran committing suicide is one too many. What war they fought in, or even if they didn’t fight, makes no difference. The military looks after their own no matter. Having said that, the stats from VA indicate the the majority of suicides are from soldiers around 50 to 70. Within that age group are “Viet Nam era” soldiers.

Our collective conscious is shaped by stories, news feeds, and documentaries surrounding “Post 9/11 service members. The hype created by folks out there starting organizations to participate in the economy of post war enterprise has many viewing suicide as an Iraq/Afghanistan war issue. As I noted earlier, it doesn’t matter where a service member served or with whom the served, they all deserve recognition and support. My fear is the Viet Nam and Korean War era soldiers are still out there feeling unwelcome in the narrative of post war mental health issues.

There are many voices out there discrediting the Veterans Administration Health Agencies. Their campaign is an attempt to get in on the post war health boon. Ill caution/solicit those service members that retired in the 90’s to remind other service members how privatizing our healthcare with Tri Care left us paying for the free health care we were promised in the 70’s.

Veterans have pride and don’t take hand outs well. We were trained to adapt and overcome. As Veterans we need to support our young service members by enlightening them, while not forgetting those that trained us and the struggles they live with.

The Viet Nam and Korean era soldier were largely ignored as veterans, and in some cases as soldiers performing their duties. I hope with the popularity of war today, the last of the WW11 soldiers, and the “special units” out there promoting themselves as “elite” we aren’t leaving many service members behind. The Korean and Viet Nam war veterans are largely left out of the suicide/PTSD conversation and seem to be left behind. Awareness is a 21st century buzzword, and those that know these service members know that they are a proud bunch who will “make do” before they bother other folks with their problems. They’ll take their problems silently to their graves and be proud of it, to our great shame.

Riding Coattails!!!

I keep up with my alma matter, The US Army, on a couple soldier sites on Facebook. It’s cool to see some of the characteristics and traditions have withstood the test of time. It’s also frustrating to see the impact the culture wars have had on the military. I was blessed to be led by the leadership during my career, mostly Viet Nam Era career soldiers.

When I was a Drill Instructor we had a problem with vendors and DI’s. It might be the pizza guy who got to deliver hundreds of pizza and passed on the bread for using his service. Could have been the t-shirt guy who gave DI’s free hats and sweatshirts for using his services and ordering hundreds of items.

We stopped this while I was a Drill Instructor as part of a push for excellence in integrity. It was not ethical to benefit, other than emotionally, from our trainees money or loyalty. I missed the free outfits and food , but it was the right thing to do and everyone looked down on this practice.

Now I’m a veteran and I see countless, and I mean countless, number of leaders benefitting from veterans, many who don’t even exist. Then I read about how countless leaders within the Dept of the Navy went along with the “snipergate” lies because it was looking good for the unit and the service.

This “22 a day” sound bite going around got me curious. If we’re losing 22 veterans a day we either have a serious recruiting issue or the nature of war had changed to a degree the leadership has seriously failed. Considering the development of systems and tactics something didn’t feel right.

Veterans are a 21st century boon. There are countless folks out there benefitting from the efforts of our veterans. The number of agencies hammering the VA in an effort to privatize veteran services is astounding. These folks make up stories and misuse statistics to justify their efforts to provide services.

This brings me to “22 a day”. The average age of suicides by veterans in one sample is 60yrs old. Which would put them at the end of the Viet Nam era. The study a also divided the sample by deployed and non deployed. The majority of suicides reported were service members who weren’t deployed. I encourage you to google veteran suicide and “22 a day” also. Look at the reliable studies and inform yourself.

Suicides by veterans is an important issue. If the actual truth is that older veterans who were never deployed are the majority of the suicides then our approach and dollars need to be scrutinized so that folks can’t ride the coattails of veterans for personal gain.
Lead the way!!!

VA Benefits on the Run!!

Saying the Veterans Administration doesn’t care about veterans is like saying teachers don’t care about students. This ploy is so obvious to anyone who has been around the military any length of time.

In the 80’s I recall the government deciding to replace cooks with contract services. It was supposed to save money. Really it was to create a jump for the economy by employing civilians. There was no way a civilian kitchen staff was making less than a couple soldiers flipping burgers and eggs. It was obvious to anyone involved; but when “Uncle Sam” went capitalist on ya, you just look around and accept the wink and nod!!!

These jerks want to talk trash about the VA and expect us to just go along with every flaw they could dig up as justification for them to further cut VA benefits through increased civilianization. Our (Veterans) healthcare will get cut further if we continue to wink and nod with them. Remember back a few years when the civilians took over our free retirement health plan that we pay for now.

We all know there are more than a few clerks with PTSD who served in Quatar in an air conditioned office receiving disability benefits because they lost power regularly. When I was in I remember the stories of cooks in R&R sites during Viet Nam getting Purple Hearts for burning their hand on the grill. There will always be “Shammers” and they’ll ride along on any ship that lands them a dollar.

I doubt there’s anyone in Congress with enough leadership skills to exercise some candor and put these folks in their place. We know those all powerful officers up there are going to go with the flow; going against the grain as an officer is a quick ticket to faded jeans and real job.

In the end the economy will get its way cause there are hundreds of agencies out there with plans to move in and control our benefits as soon as they’ve the green light. Bad thing is, they’ll charge us for the transition and shame us if we complain.

Anyway, I never go to the VA really. I get 10% for hearing loss. Which really means I get 10% of my retirement untaxed. Most civilians don’t know that they take the percentage we get out of our retirement pay and give it back to us through VA untaxed.

Maybe ill just go get a license plate and check on a fishing license and just forget it even bothered me.

The Police Are Coming: the Paul Revere Version!!!

Man!!!! These shootings really got me going for a minute, and I’m still pissed. This last story about the Soldier in Texas has fueled the fire. That Sergeant held himself accountable and turned himself into an El Paso jail for a two day stay and came out in a casket. I’m pissed.

This rubric that law enforcement and other agency use to excuse their incompetence is transparent and pathetic, but we as citizens do nothing. We cower to the “authority” that we give them. We have to address the issues professionally, leaving out myths and emotions.

Every once in a while over my adult life there have been “shake ups” in government entities. Usually politically motivated, but a light was shined on antiquated procedures and policies that in modern times seemed ignorant and counter productive to the particular agencies goals, possibly where the term. “Oxymoron” originated. It’s that time for law enforcement.

I am not attacking officers, their only as good as their policies and procedure, and the folks who develop and supervise them. Yeah their are good and bad officers, good and bad precincts, and probably good and bad regions. I’m certain most officers patrolling or guarding are good folks.

Take a look at the region of the United States where the shootings occur and maybe that will reveal something. I’m not sure because law enforcement seems to have a problem with reporting their actions for research purposes. Which could be problem number one, reporting!

There are an abundance of “corporate universities” on line and on site that have capitalized on advanced degrees for middle income American professions. Nursing, education, and Law enforcement leading the economic drive. Problem seems, education and nursing also have a representative presence in research universities as well, law enforcement doesn’t. This may explain the lack of accountability and rigor with respect to data. If they kept accurate date like the other career fields many myths and accusations about “bad policing” could be rejected; like the latest drama played out in Baltimore.

Second, and equally important is politics and policing. Stop electing law enforcement leaders. Take the School Board in some jurisdictions for instance. The Superintendent is nominated by elected officials. Then the short list is developed. Then a vote of the committee determines which candidate out of the few left best fits based on their “qualifications”. Right now a popular person with no qualifications is serving as Sheriff in some county out there!!! Take politics out of policing!!!!

3rd , supervisory positions should be earned by merit. In the military they make a good effort to do this. An honest assessment of ones ability is done monthly or quarterly depending on the service and positions. At the higher levels a board determines your eligibility based “on your record”, not your personality, they don’t meet you. It’s not 100%, but nobodies son “gets the position” this way!!!

Standardization is important. Had we been taking policing seriously for years we would appreciate the value of documenting and debriefing. This leads to more effective approaches in all endeavors and highlights ineffective actions that deter from the mission. Too many gaudy mission statements hang on dusty plaques In police offices and jails around our nation.

Officers need to be out of their cars and guards need to use strategies that allow them to interact with their populations. The antiquated authoritarian approaches to the criminal element will not work, it creates confrontation. This approach hinges on respect and that went out the window around the time ADHD became an excuse or condition, I’m not sure which one ! This ain’t the seventies!!!

Physical standards!!! I don’t even have to mention this, it’s obvious, but I have to make this a paragraph. You cannot be morbidly obese and be an effective officer of the law. You will not be taken seriously, it reflects bad on the profession, and you put yourself and the perpetrator in harm due to your reduced capacity. Establish realistic physical standards and say goodbye to those that can’t meet and maintain those standards.

We’ve shook up the FBI, CIA, Secret Service and a host of other agencies due to the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. We need to overhaul and provide oversight for law enforcement in the United States. From the top down clean house.

Then we may be able to start fresh with sound approaches that are accountable based on data. Its would be much better for the officers and the citizens. Right now the incompetence of the leadership has the officers going out into an environment where the citizens believe they target certain populations. That’s inexcusable.

If we had data for 15 years on who had been killed, wounded, and beaten; which ethnicity they were and what region they were from, we could probably clear up these headlines. For all we know cops are beating Chinese folks in Alaska at an alarming rate!!!

We, citizens, are the only group that can protect our citizens and officers that serve and protect them. We need to professionalize the procedures and policies of the leadership in law enforcement. Accountability is a basic duty of any leader. Transparency dissolves doubt. Militarization creates enemies and goon squads bum rushing cells are just thugs with equipment. This is the 21st century, surely we can do better than this!