Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Wonder of Friendship

Over the past few years, I have had the great honor to become friends with a fellow veteran and career enlisted member of our armed forces.  My friend has the same set of challenges with family, loss of memory and failing health that now seeks each of us out to rob of us our manliness, our independence and our ever changing relationships with members of our families.  But, most of all we view the loss of our pride and self worth as the ultimate degradation of our generation.  These losses are worsened when our ideas, hardened in the kiln of trial and error, sharpened by the wheel of generations of experience and learning are cast aside by those who hold that only the young have new ideas and a false realization that they have the answer to problems as old as civilization it self.

Within this context, there is real pain when a member of this group slowly loses the capability of mobility, concentration as well as his hearing and eyesight.  These changes are now hastening to the wrong side of the equation and he is more and more dependent on others in a way that he has never known.  I, with great pleasure, join him  with others of his ilk for two hours of banter and war stories each month.  My friend feels lost in the midst of those who have not worn the uniform and will withdraw into himself if not stimulated by conversation directed directly at him.

My friend is now seeking answers to questions that have no answers yet he is be-Deviled by the forces arrayed to his front that seem to hinder his every move to regain lost honors and respect that are now forever lost to our generation.

Today, my friend experienced the worst scenario a whole man could ever experience.  To describe the actual event would be the same as revealing his ID, which I will never do.  If you are prudish, read no further. 

Imagine you have two broken arms that do not allow you touch any part of your anatomy.  You are in a public rest room and you must urinate soon or soil your clothing.  Try to feel the sense of self revulsion that he would heap upon his own head if he had to beg someone to unzip his fly and then hold his penis while he urinated.  Are you embarrassed to read the last sentence.  Can you possibly cast yourself as the man with the broken arms in this ugly play.

Although fictional, my friend and I went through all the emotions we would experience in a real case with the same or similar attack on a man’s pride.  It’s all he has left and he is compelled to expose this “weakness” in the presence of his fellow veteran but understands that both give succor to each other to vanquish the shame of each.   The gallantry this man demonstrated, when he was removed from the offensive site, is both a tribute to his cultural morals and the ability of a man to overcome personal adversity, but also bears witness to the fact that man is not alone on this orb and  it is man that begs the void to find him a home and the right to seek a path to happiness.  There are many perils that life, a cruel and heartless mistress, holds for the future of my friend.  May his creator give him space and time to address each challenge as it arrives.

In the meantime, words of worth from Benjamin Franklin:  All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I am a Vietnam Vet

I am a Vietnam Vet, 1969.  Flew Marine F-4s out of ChuLai. Our return to the nation and had done its bidding was a national humiliation that showed no sign of shame. I got PO'd at this reception at the time, but now it is far worse.

Our soldiers, sailors and Marines are all volunteers and are trained better, have much better equipment and lots of loyalty to their services.  What they don't have is leadership.  The current Chiefs of the  services are politicians, not warriors. I don't care if they deserved the  Navy Cross while they were commanding troops in the field, their failure to do what is right for the nation and the services is spun just like a California politician.  It has always been a mystery to me why a  three star or four star flag office would not fall on his sword over a worth while project.  What are they going to do?  Shave his head and send him to Afghanistan

Here is why I care about these flag officers and their lack of leadership.  They, Them, all who have commanded troops on a battle field should "Man Up" and testify before Trey Gowdy's committee on the VA.  They should humble themselves before the nation for allowing that which is the life of a current day veteran to become another national cancer on its soul.  Although the Wounded  Warrior Project has done some good work, the nation should be mad as hell that it takes a private organization with high over head cost to help some of our vets.

This is a job for the nation.

Yet, get ready, less than one tenth of one percent of our population has a family or friend of the family who even knows of a Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has been killed or horribly wounded.  By the way, I was a 25 year career Marine and I don't have a square inch of skin in this game.  I look at it differently, of course, but no one I know has been killed our wounded in these two countries.  So the odds are that its a 360 million to one chance that some one who is reading what I have written gives a damn about any of our vets.  If this comment hurts your sensitivity, don't look to me for sympathy.  Could I be wrong?  Where are the marches on the Mall.  Where are the emails and phone calls from a population of over 300 million.  They are volunteers who put their butts on the ground in harms way and when they return with missing parts, we rely on The Wounded Warrior Project to help them.  Shame on all of us.  A nation who employs gladiators to do its political bidding yet lacks the guts to fund their needs.

 I have a son who files an income tax return, but does not make enough to pay any taxes.  Yet our government "Gives" him $1000 for not paying any taxes.  The democracy begins its final fall when the population discovers that it can put government money in its pockets as a function of who they vote for.

This treatment of veterans is as old as the nation itself.  In 1932 at the worst part of the depression, veterans and their wives and children built a shack town on the mall called Hoverville.  The President called his Army Chief of Staff and told him to disperse the veterans.  The Army Chief of Staff, mounted his horse and led, infantry, Calvary, and 600 civilian policemen to disperse the mob.  Some were killed or wounded.  This hero of the Nation who saved the government from a coup of desperate farmers, factory workers, etc who had been promised a post war bonus when they enlisted.  The President, the Supreme Court and the Congress all spit in the face of those who had died and been wounded for their nation and refused to pay the bonus.  This heroic charge up the Mall was none other than General Douglas McArthur whose Yankee grandfather won the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery in a civil war.  So if you really give a hoot about your veterans, get in the face of your Senator and House members and force them to tell you why we keep a Federal Services Union in the ranks of government employees when their binding arbitration is not paid by stockholders who are looking at making a profit but are paid for by tax payers who have no say in this obvious form of taxation.  If you have read this far, know this...the VA MUST be rid of unions if it is ever to be of value to our veterans. 

So when you may question the motives of the government in supporting the Vets just remember old Dugout Doug who ran troops he had commanded in combat off the mall yet flew like a coward in the dark of night and left Gen Wainwright (sp) to suck up the loses on Corregidor  and the Bataan Death March. 

So if you are a veteran, please give up accepting thanks for your service and implore that the giver write his representatives in Congress and pull the unions out of the VA and demand that 30% of its employees be veterans.  As long as the unions stay, your gladiators will be screwed until the end of time.  Alas, I forgot, none of us have any skin in the game so none of us will do anything or even care.  Pity.  This apathy allows you to allow the very rich in the Congress to send even more troops to their deaths or maiming for God only knows what.  You and I don't know what, but you can bet it has to do with them getting richer or holding on to their seat of power, perks and privilege .  Write or call me and show me the error of my ways.

Gus Fitch
Colonel USMC (Ret) VietNam vet
803-649-6466 (hm)
803-617-9085 (cell)