I just had the honor and privilege of being a speaker at the Vietnam Veterans Moveable Wall Memorial. I lost a beloved person in that war, and it isn’t often that I get to speak of him. Therefore, this speech has meant more to me than almost any other I’ve ever given, and I genuinely hope that I have relayed the concerns and problems that are so clearly seen, and IGNORED, that our Veterans have to endure- battles abroad, yes, but battles even at home with our own government.
I have attached the speech as I intended to give it, which you can read here. If you’d rather see the video, it is at the bottom of the page. Understand that with the high winds and the limitations imposed, what is on the video is slightly different than the text here.
Please, please, feel free to leave your own stories of difficulties, of your loved ones, of anything that you want the rest of us to know about Vietnam, your Vets, or your own experiences there. It is much too important to leave your voice unheard!
I thank you for accepting me as a substitute speaker for Linda Goldthorpe, Candidate for Congress in this First District. It is absolutely the most important reason I’ve ever gotten up to give a public talk, and I hope that what I have to say gives honor to the Veterans we memorialize here, honors you, and honors Linda Goldthorpe.
I too, have loved ones affected by the Vietnam War. As a child, twin brothers that our family dearly loved, Mark and Lee, enlisted.. One of those brothers had been engaged to the aunt that was living with us. We all expected him to be family and loved him, loved both of them, just as much as if they already were.
Mark corresponded with us regularly. We had news of his difficulties, assignments, his activities; but being a child, much of this went over my head. I remember he often complained about his feet, how they were nearly always wet, and the foot problems that came with that.
Mark and Lee faced active duty combat nearly from the day they arrived. They served two years together. I recall my horror when we received a letter with Mark telling us that he had decided to re-enlist for another two years, for the reason that if he did, it would save another young man from having to experience the same things he did during the last two years; both of them re-enlisted for another two years.
At about the third year of his duty, the tone of his letters changed. He began speaking of the difficulties he would have returning to civilian life. He began to express self-doubt in living normally, being a good husband and father, about being able to hold a job and do well. The letters became darker, sadder, hardened; more distant.
The twins fought that entire 4 years without a disabling wound. The discharge date was issued, and the families anticipated the return of our heroes, the marriage of Mark and Kathy, and we understood there would be dreadful difficulties, but Mark was worth it- we greatly anticipated his return.
The final day of Mark’s active duty, he stepped on a landmine. Rather than shipping him home with honors and medals like his brother; Mark came home in a body bag.
I want to say to you, and to Mark, who I have no doubt is here, that to THIS VERY DAY I love him just as much as I did when I was that little bitty girl who kissed that young, handsome and committed soldier goodbye. I’ve gone to the wall to get his name. He has been the subject of my prayers.
Since I became old enough to vote, veterans issues have been a major consideration at every election. I have a son-in-law who served in Iraq. I have a nephew serving in Iraq and who will continue to serve. Both of those men have something Mark never had- a family and children.
Mark didn’t have to battle a sullen, intractable and cold bureaucracy for his health care and his benefits. Mark wasn’t MIA or POW and ABANDONED. Mark didn’t have a family who had to seek WELFARE AND FOOD STAMPS to survive. Mark hasn’t had to pay higher and higher costs for the health care he DESERVED, as our surviving vets have had to. He hasn’t had to battle the government to take care of him from Agent Orange, or Sarin, or PTSD. He wasn’t abandoned in a hospital room for three days to just die an ignoble and ignored death.
But the rest of our vets have to deal with all these things and more.
And this has been a consistent curse of how our politicians govern. It seems to me that our veterans have been one of the LAST commitments, one of the LAST concerns, of our government no matter WHO is in power.
For myself, seeing the huge numbers of veterans coming home with unimaginable injuries, burns, lost limbs, horrifying levels of PTSD, shockingly high incidents of suicide, that frankly I am SICK AND TIRED OF BUSINESS AS USUAL in respects to our veterans.
Without them there wouldn’t even BE an America; there wouldn’t even BE a Constitution.
Therefore I no longer vote for ‘YES MEN.’ I no longer support candidates who don’t take a clear and unequivocal position on caring for our vets as they DESERVE.
We have here some choices to make and they are important ones. We have six years of ‘experience’ running for Congressional office- six years of the worst governance and economy Michigan has EVER SEEN, all without so much as a complaint from our State representative. And this six years of experience going along with whatever bad decisions are made, with whomever has the influence in our State government, wants to do the SAME FOR YOU in Washington.
Hasn’t that been the problem all along, that when people arrive to Washington that they are goaded and trained into being YES men? Saying YES to the policies and procedures that have kept our vets ‘second class’ all along?
I really MUST speak on behalf of Linda Goldthorpe because in my estimation she is not only profoundly committed to the welfare and honorable treatment of our veterans, she is knowledgeable about the actual ramifications of the loopholes that are inserted into every legislative bill that affect our veterans badly. She needs no advisors to read the documents and tell her what to think. Without anything between her and her experience, she will read those documents and KNOW what the pitfalls, the dangers, the loopholes are and whether a bill is good for our vets or bad.
She’s a strong and gutsy lady, not afraid to stand up and speak the truth. In fact, because of the catastrophe that so many areas of our government has gotten us IN TO, she felt that it was absolutely NECESSARY for her to run for office, to give a voice to the PEOPLE who have been so incredibly ignored.
Linda Goldthorpe BELIEVES in our veterans; she BELIEVES in their care and keeping; she BELIEVES they MUST be treated with dignity and honor that is due from every American, and she is willing to stand and hold people accountable for their abandonment of our heroes, our warriors, and the families they love.
As Linda says, “medical care for our veterans should covered by a simple, reliable plan, instead of a complex bureaucracy that lessens choice and leaves our veterans at the mercy of government doctors. But, in any case, more care is better than less. No expense should be spared for our veterans’ medical care.”
If we are going to make a difference for our Veterans, and for the American people, we MUST stop electing the ‘party annointed’ yes men and begin electing individuals who are willing to put themselves OUT THERE, just as our veterans do, for our country, for our values, for our veterans, for our Constitution. If we do not, the influentials who have continued to ignore the needs of our people and our veterans will do NOTHING to change our system to improve this situation.