By Marc Cullison
I was recently asked to participate in a get together of military veterans. A casual meeting of those men and women who had served in the military defending our country. The first meeting had a surprising turnout. About fifteen of us there including WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraq. Unfortunately, there were no women. We all sat there relishing each other’s company. Kindred souls in a unique and dying brotherhood. The veteran.
The old-timers from World War II had some spectacular stories to tell. Unlike anything I have ever heard, except for movies on television and some books I had read. It all rang true. The the guys from the Korean War also told of their experiences, not so much different from WWII. The Vietnam guys, not many, were just kind of there, but with their own stories. And the Iraq veterans had their own versions of war stories. But the thing is that each of us had a story. Some were of fighting in combat, some were of support missions, and others were just stories of the day-to-day difficulties that military life presents to a soldier. But they were all real, honest, and a picture of life as these men knew it.
We had our second meeting today, Saturday, March 9, 2013. Not as many of us showed up, but the stories did. These experiences are being video recorded and photographed. I am thankful for the opportunity to listen to my brothers-in-arms and experience what they experienced. I am also grateful for the opportunity to share with them my own experiences from the Vietnam War. Many of these stories are never going to make it to network television and most likely will not be viewed by millions of viewers. But they will be seen by those who care.
Each of these stories is about a real live person and what he experienced in war, serving our country, and the people who trusted him to safeguard their way of life. How little they really know about this individual. How little time they invest in learning what it’s like to fight in a war. How little many of them seem to care. That’s what disappoints me about America. We all cherish our freedom, but we don’t give a hoot about what it takes to keep it. And what is worse, we don’t seem to give a hoot about the people who lay their lives on the line to do it.
The Veteran’s Administration has fallen far short of its responsibility to the American soldier. There are delays in processing needs, neglect of these needs, and just plain indifference toward the difficulties many of the soldiers experience as a result of defending our country. It’s sad and disheartening that we can give so little to those who gave so much for us. It is fortunate that I have not needed the assistance of the VA. If I had, I wonder if I would have received it. And, if I had, would it have been enough?
We as a society have become selfish and greedy. Many of us seem to care only about ourselves. Hell, just look at our present government. I’m talking about both state governments and federal. We have completely lost sight of what America is all about, or what it used to be all about. Compromise. Working together for the common good. Now it seems that the only thing folks care about is getting their own way and to hell with everyone else. That darned sure isn’t what I fought and risked my life for.
As a veteran, I am disappointed in the population of this grand country. Oh, I still have hope that some day a new generation will wake up and think, “Hey, how come we have all of this freedom? Where did it come from? Wow, we need to make sure we keep it. What say we form an alliance to defend each other’s freedom?” Well, I can always dream. That’s alway easy to do. Maybe some day it will come true.