All my life I have been blessed to be surrounded by veterans and my family has served in three different wars. Really amazing considering I am only second generation American. My Uncles served in WWII, my Dad served in Korean and my husband served in Vietnam. His Dad and Uncles served in WWII. He's just second generation too.
Our Grandparents thought this country was so special, they risked everything to start a new life here. My Mom's family left Greece, my husband's Grandparents left Italy, all for the promise of what this country was. All of the veterans in our families thought it was not perfect but, oh so worthy, of whatever they could do for America.
They did not regret serving but they are sadden by the conditions far too many of them have to endure because members of Congress neglected to make sure the Department of Veterans Affairs was able to care for all their wounds. That is one thing generations of our elected representatives should have done decades ago. They haven't and now there are some suggesting this one place for them will be sold off so that they can be sent to civilian doctors and civilian hospitals.
You may think that all the problems with the claims, shortage of doctors and claims processors is new, but it has all gone on for generations. None of this is new to them or families like mine. They paid the price with their service and continue to pay the price for the lack of service they were promised.
So here are some reminders of what has not been accurate.
Afghanistan is the longest war. It is the longest declared war. Vietnam was the longest.
Vietnam Memorial Wall
The First and the Last The first American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr. He is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956. His name was added to the Wall on Memorial Day 1999. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who has a casualty date of Sept. 7, 1965.In the latest VA Suicide Research, they reported there are 20 veterans a day committing suicide, however, that was the same number reported in 1999 with over 5 million more veterans in this country. Most are tied to PTSD caused by combat.
First battlefield fatality was Specialist 4 James T. Davis who was killed on December 22, 1961.
The last American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Kelton Rena Turner, an 18-year old Marine. He was killed in action on May 15, 1975, two weeks after the evacuation of Saigon, in what became known as the Mayaguez incident.
Others list Gary L. Hall, Joseph N. Hargrove and Danny G. Marshall as the last to die in Vietnam. These three US Marines Corps veterans were mistakenly left behind on Koh Tang Island during the Mayaguez incident. They were last seen together but unfortunately to date, their fate is unknown. They are located on panel 1W, lines 130 - 131.
All that bills Congress has passed and paid for, all the claims of the military changing how they treat the wounded, has actually made the outcomes more deadly. Veterans who go to the VA are less likely to commit suicide than those who do not.
Another fact is that the majority of veterans committing suicide, over 65% of them, are over the age of 50. With all that in mind, you may remember them today but the other reality for them is, their day as a veteran is everyday and they live with the memories of what they were willing to do for the sake of someone else. If you didn't know that already, I feel sorry for you because it means you do not know any of them.