Breast Cancer & Nique, Inc. will be writing a weekly article to honor a veteran from the local communities until Veterans Day November 11, 2016. This project was influenced by the Boston Tough Ruck that I completed a few weeks back with my nephew Gregory Buffington, a combat war veteran from Afghanistan. As Greg and I started our morning as part of Team #22 Kill under the leadership of Heather A. Vivieros, we were honored yet saddened in learning of the two soldiers from Fall River in which we dedicated our ruck to: SPC Scott Andrews and Sgt Robert Barrett. Follow along on our journey as we respectfully share the stories of our communities true heroes. Today will start our campaign with a Marine. David has been my friend, my brother and one of my greatest supporters since the day we met. This campaign starts with you my friend, David, Vietnam Veteran, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Thank you for your service.
I am a hundred percent disabled veteran. Coming back to “the world” (our slang for leaving Viet Nam), after the horrors of war, was not the dream scenario that we vets dreamed about. It was an immediate shock to encounter the hatred and blame that we faced at the airport. We were spit on and screamed at by people who made derogatory and accusatory statements. We took the blame for the negative war, when in fact, we were victims ourselves.
Our attempts to find help for broken bodies and anguished minds led nowhere. Seeking help from the VA system was a wasted maze.
For many years I traveled the entire country, carrying heavy backpacks of sorrow and grief for “brothers” who we lost in combat. I carried a mind filled with anguish and anger. I roamed lost and empty with nowhere to go for answers.
By about 1980 people began to talk about PTSD and Agent Orange. I was given a book by Fred Wilcox, “Waiting For An Army To Die”. Finally the realization that we had been poisoned with chemical warfare by our own country, and our bodies were telling the story. Neurological damage, heart disease, liver damage, birth defects in our children, and on it goes.
I began talking with other vets, trying to educate them as to the reasons for their ailments. I went through the long, repetitious, and confusing VA maze, and helped many others find their way through also.
I was involved in the class action suit which pointed out the chemical companies who were responsible for the lies and hidden information regarding their manufactured poisons. I was asked to represent veterans on “Good Morning America”, and spoke about the amazing facts that veterans who had survived the war, had truly not survived, but were dying, slowly.
Added to the physical problems, there was an increasing large percent of vets who were committing suicide, rather than face their agony. Unusually enough it was at about the same time the term PTSD was first being discussed. Mental anguish, emotional pain, rage, etc, all as a result of neurological changes in the brain as a result of trauma.
I have walked many back roads of America, but the road goes on. The road must go on, so that others are being treated and educated about the horrendous ongoing catastrophe of war.