Draft era Vets ponder all-volunteer era vet suicides in VA Med Center waiting rooms

This guy died last year.  He'd have been 20 in 1948.  The pic on the headstone shows him wearing Sgt. stripes.  The stone says Lt. Col. Okay.  Also says he was a 'left' gunner.  Presumably a waist gunner on a B24?  Did B17s have a machine gun blister on the waist?  Anyway, 59 combat missions by a guy who didn't turn 17 until 1945?  And decorated with a bronze star.  Claims WWII, Korea and Vietnam as his own.   Anything happen in his life afterward, you suppose?  Something factual, for instance and worth remembering him for?

This guy died last year. He’d have been 20 in 1948. The pic on the headstone shows him wearing Sgt. stripes. The stone says Lt. Col.
Okay. Also says he was a ‘left’ gunner. Presumably a waist gunner on a B24? Did B17s have a machine gun blister on the waist? Anyway, 59 combat missions by a guy who didn’t turn 17 until 1945? And decorated with a bronze star. Claims WWII, Korea and Vietnam as his own.
Anything happen in his life afterward, you suppose? Something factual, for instance and worth remembering him for?

Lieutenant Colonel Smith in traditional reality.

Lieutenant Colonel Smith in traditional reality.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Hanging around the waiting rooms at the VA Medical Center today I got talking with other draft-era vets about these all volunteer military vets suiciding so frequently.  All of them I broached the subject with were anxious to talk about it.

Generally one possibility all expressed is that these modern-day vets are a bunch of woosies.  Nobody’s ruling that out early in the ponderings.  But digging into it, all agreed there must have been something in their expectations far removed from the reality they experienced.

What the hell could that be?  They joined knowing the US engages in all manner of protracted, meaningless wars.  They must have known they’d stand an excellent chance of ending up in one or another of them.

Well, okay.  A lot of them got to kill people who didn’t need killing.  Maybe more than back in earlier times.  And they got accused of being heroes when every last one of them knows THAT is a lie.

But what else?  They joined for the high pay, the benefits, house loan, educational and maybe  health benefits.  They got all that, plus 30 days vacation and 30 days sick leave per year.  They got the Dollar Tree stores and that ilk asking customers to give a dollar to support their kids with school supplies all in the same breath.  Which is to say, they became beggars by proxy.  Victims by virtue of some of the most bizarre reasoning of which the human mind is capable of indulging.

Unanimous about all this, we draft-era veterans.  Pondered it, I did, all the way back to Olathe discussing it with the transport driver who was a pre-Gulf War I veteran [never left Fort Blizz, Texas].  He agreed, too.

It took Jeanne, who doesn’t know pork from venison about military service, to add what might be the answer:

How,” Jeanne asked me, “do you know they haven’t been killing themselves after every war since the Civil War?  How would you have heard about it without the Internet?”

In fact, probably nobody was even paying attention to the matter back then   Certainly not the sort of information the government would be waving around in recruiting offices.  “I WANT YOU!”, says Uncle Sam pointing, “And you’ll hate yourself in the morning.”

Old Jules

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5 responses to “Draft era Vets ponder all-volunteer era vet suicides in VA Med Center waiting rooms

  1. Hi Old Jules, I don’t have an answer. I do remember the old folks talking about this one or that one that had bad dreams, screaming in the night, and such. Shell shock they called it. Now they have a fancy dollar psychological term, post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. Some were so bad they ended up on the streets unable to hold a job. Don’t remember any talk of suicide. There certainly may have been. My son suffers PTSD according to the VA counselor. I think the counseling did him more harm than good. They encouraged him to hate certain people who had done him dirty instead of forgiving. Something about leaving God out of the equation does a lot of damage. Not that having God in it solves all the problems, but, it does give something solid to hang onto and a better understanding about man’s inhumanity to man….also known as sin. Just my thoughts. Blessings, M.

    • Hi Mary: Yeah, they called it shell shocked. Likely in some future time they’ll call it something I can remember again. Meanhile my memory isn’t all that good anyway. J

  2. Jeanne is right on the money. Oh how I wish I’d thought of that but it never occurred to me. Go Jeanne!

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