"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Monday, March 31, 2014

PTSD Today

More Vietnam Vets are Getting Help for PTSD

[Stars and Stripes, March 31, 2014]

Nearly 46 years after being wounded in Vietnam, Peter Halas applied for and received a post-traumatic stress disorder disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The former Akron, Ohio, resident is not alone.

Dr. Edgardo Padin-Rivera, chief of psychology and PTSD expert at the Louis Stokes VA Cleveland Medical Center, said many Vietnam vets are applying for disability as they remember more about their combat experiences.

In Halas' case, he already had a disability from physical wounds he received in Vietnam. He was injured by a land mine in 1968.
But his PTSD disability was awarded only recently after specific memories came back while talking about the war with VA counselors.

Padin-Rivera said there are 326,530 Vietnam veterans with a PTSD disability -- a figure that is climbing every year.

As veterans age, the ways they had to defend against memories of combat begin to fade and they become more troubled by their war experiences, he said.

"It is about emotions of vulnerability and helplessness," he said. "And this brings up memories of those time periods when they felt vulnerable and helpless and those experiences have to do with war experiences."

So when veterans go to the VA for medical care, they are asked questions about their mental health, Padin-Rivera said.

"Now that we are asking the question, they begin to talk about it," the psychologist said. "We try to make it OK for them to talk about this and do away with the stigma of mental health. We saw this with World War II vets and are seeing it with the younger generation of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan."

The memories came back to Halas, 68, as he began talking to VA counselors about his military service.

He wrote about one incident in support of his PTSD diagnosis: "Fire fight for a day and a half, seeing fellow comrades wounded, some mortally by taking a direct hit by mortars ... Then being told to clean up blood, bones, organ splatters from inside of vehicles."

Halas said he's had anger issues over the years and now realizes it was part of the PTSD.

"You don't realize it until you start thinking about it," he said.

Halas -- who retired from Cavanaugh Building Corp. in Akron and moved to Temecula, Calif., in 2011 -- said he now receives about $1,400 a month for his PTSD disability, in addition to the $1,600 a month he was receiving for his war injuries.

He's also trying to straighten out the official record on his service awards.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has changed his DD-214 to reflect one Purple Heart, but Halas says he received three, and a Bronze Star, for his service.

He's still working on getting the file corrected and said he wants to leave an accurate account of his military experience for his family.

"It wasn't important before, when I was a young kid," said Halas, who attended Copley High School. "Now I am an older person and I think about it, those things are important. I damn near gave my life for it."


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day 2014

In 2011, U.S. Senator Richard Burr, a ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, encouraged communities across the nation to establish “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”

A resolution was passed unanimously by the United States Senate designating March 30th as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” to honor the return home of our armed services members after serving in Vietnam.

Sadly, our Vietnam Veterans never returned home to the heroes’ welcome they truly deserved. Instead, they were caught in the middle of the turbulent debate surrounding our country’s involvement in that war.

We know these men and women served our county with honor and bravery during the Vietnam War. These veterans deserve our respect, recognition and overwhelming gratitude for their sacrifice.

I ask everyone to take a moment today to recognize and honor all of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and to remember that today marks the official “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day”.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Friday, March 28, 2014

Taps for my Soldier

Taps for My Soldier

by CJ (Parrish, Kempf, O'Brien) Heck

A gentle breeze chatters the leaves
as birds sing their greetings.
The sun shines 
on a day like any other,
and yet like none before.
Two mirrored rows of uniforms
line up like blue dominoes,
white gloves holding rifles at the ready.
A lone bugle cries. 
Twenty-four notes.
Each note, slow as a tear,
blankets ears and heavy hearts.
In the silence between,
even nature holds its breath.
Gone is the breeze.
Gone are the bird songs.
Gone is her hold on composure,
all lost in the bugle's lament.
Solemnly a soldier approaches.
White gloves present a tri-fold flag,
and in one final mournful note,
legions of silent voices unite
to call a comrade home
and his young wife weeps.

[from the book, "Anatomy of a Poet", by CJ Heck]

"Taps for My Soldier" included by invitation in the Taps Exhibit, The Taps Project, Arlington National Cemetery, May 29, 1999.

"Taps for My Soldier" included in the book, The Other Side of Sorrow by Cicely Buckley, edited by Patricia Frisella (Poetry Society of New Hampshire, 2006).

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Healing Old Wounds

**Please Share This Post**

To all Vietnam and other veterans, their families and friends:  Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate, anger even alienate. Shared with others, our emotions unite us, as we see we aren't alone.  We realize others weep with us.

[Douglas Scott Kempf - KIA September 5, 1969]

As a (1969) Vietnam War widow, it is my wish to provide a healing place where you can write about anything you want. You have the truths America should hear.  The “Memoirs From Nam” blog was created for that very purpose. 

Come and visit.  Read what so many others have already shared.  I encourage you to share your own stories and email them to me with “Stories from Nam” in the subject line:   cjheck60porsche@gmail.com.   

I'll be waiting to hear from you.   Memoirs From Nam Blog

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Eagle Cried ...

The Eagle Cried

The Eagle Cried

by Rick Turton

The acrid smell of cordite
Still hovered in the air.
No breeze to wash away
The scent of Satan’s hair.

The Medivac’s are fading now,
Their cabins filled with dead.
So many grisly pictures
Are surging through my head

Another hill’s been taken
The earth all charred and black
We all know what’s coming;
Tomorrow…”Give it back!”

The Eagle cries from barren trees
His tears, he cannot hide.
Where once a proud, young soldier stood
My Warrior Brother, died.

The scorched ground that surrounds me;
Am I in Dante’s Hell?
This skirmish now is over.
We saw them as they fell.

My Warrior Brother, Donny,
Died that gruesome day.
He took the bullets meant for me
With his final words did say,

“Tell Mom and Sis I loved them!
Please! Don’t let me down!”
I promised I would tell them
A promise I’d soon drown.

The Eagle cried that tragic day,
Back in Sixty-Eight.
A promise made…un-kept,
To my Warrior mate.

One thing that I’m sure of,
A thing that gives no rest.
The hounds of Hell still battle
Deep within my chest.

A bottle’d been my address
For forty years or more.
I’d take ‘most any drug,
I couldn’t find the door.

Somewhere there’s a record,
Of drugs and booze and tears.
When I crawled out of the bottle
I’d been buried in for years.

Half a decade sober.
Not a real long time.
That’s how long I’m clean tho’,
My life’s becoming mine.

The winds of war are blowing by;
In history books they last.
I’m in the winter of my years,
My best days...they have passed.

The one thing that I’ve never done
One thing I cannot face:
To visit the Memorial,
The headstone for that place.

My daughter said, “You have to go,
To honor those who died!”
I said I know I should…
But that I’d go…I lied

Then one day the phone rang;
A call I knew I’d dread.
It was Donny’s sister,
“Please help me!” Karen pled.

“I’ve spent these years just searching
I even hired a sleuth.
I finally found out where you live…
I need to know the truth.”

“The Army’s always been real vague,
And their answers never matched.
I need to know what happened;
They always seemed detached”

“Our Mother has passed on now,
But I still need to know;
I’d really love to meet with you,
Please…just show me how!”

The hounds of Hell are roused again;
Their howling has re-started.
I force their shrieks out of my mind,
My path, it has been charted

Quiet now, you dogs of war!
It's time for a new quest!
It's time for me to wrestle you,
And lay your souls to rest!

Then I thought the one thing,
A thought I'd never say,
Should I meet her at The Wall,
And put my hounds at bay?

I finally said I’d meet with her,
With a voice that was not mine.
The Wall is where I’ll meet you.
I’ll see you there at nine.”

I saw flowers in her hand,
As she walked my way.
“Yellow roses were his favorite.”
Later she would say.

“Hello, my name is Karen.”
She said when we did meet
“Donny wrote me many things,
I knew that you’d be sweet!”

“I know this must be hard for you,
But I really need to know.
Please tell me how my brother died,
That day, so long ago.”

The moment had arrived.
I could hide this fact no more.
I said things I’d kept hidden,
Behind my mind’s locked door

She took my hand in hers,
And waited patiently.
My head bowed down as I thought
Of words I had to say.

I knew my words would stab her heart
But she would not look away.
She watched me as I told her
Of that ghastly day.

“Your Brother died in my arms
In that nameless place.
He took the bullets meant for me
And died as we embraced!”

Her head dropped down, when I was done
Her chin upon her chest.
A single tear rolled down her cheek,
“Now Donny’s laid to rest.”

I walked with her as she made her way
To the Wall of Stone.
She laid the flowers at the base
Her silent prayer was sown.

At last I’ve honored those who fell,
Whose names are etched in rows.
We touched the name of Donny,
Who died so long ago.

And we cried…

The Eagle’s cry is heard again;
It lives within the Wall!
Each time a name is touched
The Eagle gives his call.

© Richard Turton 2014
All Rights Reserved

Rick Turton
Rick Turton
Vietnam 1970-1971

[Post Script:  May 22, 2014:  Rick Turton has just learned today that Jodie Stevens, a Christian Radio Personality in Sacramento CA is going to read his poem, “The Eagle Cried…” on the air in honor of Memorial Day. She will read it on May 23, 2014, about 8:10 in the morning. Her show is syndicated nationally and is available online at 1039thefish.com. Understandably, Rick feels truly honored and humbled and hopes it will help even one more Vet start the healing process.]

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale