Category Archives: Military

Veterans Health Care – My Experience

If you’re a U.S. military veteran. or a family member of a veteran, then this blog post is for you. Those whom are also interested in government managed health care, and haven’t first hand knowledge, this may help you.

Most of what I’m going to discuss is only one man’s opinion, but in a sea of opinions, I’m going to do my best to accurately inform anyone still reading past the opening paragraphs.

CH-46s on runway destined for Viet Nam

CH-46s on runway Kaneohe Hawaii, destined for Vietnam

I’m a Vietnam era veteran. That means something specific, and to anyone that has also served during a time of war, but wasn’t a directly involved participant, meaning they weren’t in the designated country, served in a non-combat role, their benefits may differ from those serving during peace time operations.

The VA has different designated levels of assistance, depending on the time someone has served. They provide service for all in some capacity, but you may need to pay more for services rendered, depending on your current income, and when you served. Those details are available online, and if you aren’t aware of them, please follow this link.

VA heath care and the Affordable Care Act.

If you read the information, don’t fully understand it, and need more help, you can drop a response at the bottom of this post, along with your real name and how to contact you. Nothing you send will be automatically posted. I have to review comments before yours goes public. If you send personal information, I’ll not publish it. Of course I’m hoping I won’t be deluged with questions or some scammer trying to take advantage of my willingness to help explain what the VA can provide. I may just post a link, if I see the answer already available for your specific question.

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Me standing outside of a TAC – 1975

I want to encourage any veteran or family member that hasn’t been involved with VA health care to not defer or postpone the services which you’ve earned. Of course, if you’re enlistment or your appointment with the military wasn’t based on what you might later receive, it’s natural to ignore your benefits.

I enrolled about 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve been in for two annual physicals, and an eye examination and a new prescription with glasses.

I went into the Atlanta VA hospital yesterday on a scheduled surgery. It was a same day, recovery at home afterwards type of care. I went in at 9am and was out by 5pm. 0900 & 1700, military time.

I can tell you my experience was as positive as I’ve had. As it has not been my first or second hospital rodeo. I think my national and international health care provided experience gives me a basis from which I can make comparisons.

I’m at home recovering today. The surgery appears to be completed without complications. I’ve had two calls from the VA. The last one was from one of the doctors who assisted in the surgery. She left her pager number on the discharge sheet in case I have a problem.

All of that without copay or out of pocket expenses. That of course is based on my time, duration of service and current level of income. If you’re a veteran or a close family member, I urge you to become acquainted with the VA. Be sure you’re not missing out on health care services. If you’ve read or heard horror stories, which I’m not going to suggest aren’t based on fact, my experience doesn’t align with those concerns. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

Find a VA location near you.


Why a Memorial Day?

You might think this long weekend is nice to have a day off from work, or enjoy getting together with friends or family. This Monday, May 30th, is a patriotic holiday intended to honor Americans who have served and protected our country, and made the ultimate sacrifice. It commemorates the sacrifice of thousands of people who gave their life for the continuation of this country and it’s freedom, and coming to the aid of other countries trying to do the same. 

fort-sumter-civil-war

Confederate attack on Fort Sumter began the Civil War

The Civil war, which began on April 12, 1861 and ended June 2, 1865, was our bloodiest conflict. Approximately 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War. Since then just over 644,000 American combatants have died in all other combined wars.

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American combatant casulaties of war

The Americans who rest beneath these beautiful hills, and in sacred ground across our country and around the world, they are why our nation endures. Each simple stone marker, arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay, but it is a debt we will never stop trying to fully repay. By remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice. – President Barack Obama

About 5,000 people will attend a ceremony at Arlington Cemetery this weekend. This national cemetery, sitting on 624 acres is located in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington DC.

About 30 people are buried at Arlington Cemetery every weekday.

If you haven’t served in the military, why should you care? About 99.5 percent of the population never serves in the military, for many it’s difficult to understand what it means to be willing to lay down your life for people who you will never meet. People serving in the military aren’t going in for some of the reasons expressed by politicians or people who make the 6 o’clock news.

MCB Twentynine PalmsWhat separates the military from the rest of the population? These are the people who know it’s necessary to work toward common goals, prepare and sometimes when called upon, defend what they believe in. They do the work instead of whining and hoping someone else will do what has to be done. Sure, people in the military complain, but those who do their job, make the sacrifices required, keep the United States ready to meet the constant threats throughout the world.

Some think we should not be the world’s policeman, but if that role isn’t performed, who will stand up to the despots, megalomaniacs, tyrants and terrorists of the world? Many smaller countries enjoy a good standard of living because they don’t have to pay for their security with the blood and treasure of their own people.

Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.
It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it. ~ Robert E. Lee – General Confederate States of America


There is no glory in war, only in Hollywood.

There are many great speeches. Impressive writers. Many beautiful people. Terrific entertainers. Marvelous designers. These attributes don’t buy your freedom. A man or woman serving as a soldier, airman, sailor, or marine, paid for that freedom. Thousands have paid the ultimate price for your liberty. Perhaps you can take a few moments of your time and be thankful for those who did what you wouldn’t, couldn’t or didn’t do. If you see an active duty military person today, you can thank them for what they do.

Struggling to help others. A Navy corpsman story.

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Vietnam War Statistics

Personnel

  • 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (5 August 1965-7 May 1975)
  • 8,744,000 personnel were on active duty during the war (5 August 1964-28
    March 1973)
  • 3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the SE Asia
    Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand and sailors
    in adjacent South China Sea waters).
  • 2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam
    ( 1 January 1965 – 28 March 1973)
  • Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964
  • Of the 2.6 million, between 1 and 1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in
    combat, provided close combat support or were at least fairly regularly
    exposed to enemy attack.
  • 7,484 women served in Vietnam, of whom 6,250 or 83.5% were nurses.
  • Peak troop strength in Vietnam was 543,482, on 30 April 1969.

Casualties:

  • Hostile deaths: 47,359
  • Non-hostile deaths: 10,797
  • Total: 58,156 (including men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties).
  • Severely disabled: 75,000, 23,214 were classified 100% disabled. 5,283 lost
    limbs, 1,081 sustained multiple amputations. Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than in Korea. Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII.
  • MIA: 2,338
  • POW: 766, of whom 114 died in captivity.
  • Draftees vs. volunteers: 25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII)
    Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.
  • Reservists KIA: 5,977
  • National Guard: 6,140 served; 101 died.

Ethnic background:

  • 88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian, 10.6%
    (275,000) were black, 1.0% belonged to other races
  • 86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (including Hispanics)
    12.5% (7,241) were black.
    1.2% belonged to other races
  • 170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2%) of whom died there.
  • 86.8% of the men who were KIA were Caucasian
    12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races.
    14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were black
    34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms.
  • Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam when the percentage
    of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the population.

Socioeconomic status:

  • 76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working
    class backgrounds
  • 75% had family incomes above the poverty level.
  • 23% had fathers with professional, managerial, or technical occupations.
  • 79% of the men who served in ‘Nam had a high school education or better.
  • 63% of Korean vets had completed high school upon separation from the service)

Age & Honorable Service:

  • The average age of the G.I. in ‘Nam was 19 (26 for WWII) 97% of Vietnam era vets were honorably discharged.

Pride in Service:

  • 91% of veterans of actual combat and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country. 66% of Vietnam veterans say they would serve again, if called upon. 87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem.
  • Helicopter crew deaths accounted for 10% of ALL Vietnam deaths. Helicopter losses during Lam Son 719 (a mere two months) accounted for 10% of all helicopter losses from 1961-1975.

Winning & Losing:

  • 82% of veterans who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of a lack of political will. Nearly 75% of the general public (in 1993) agreed with that.

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Are We Doing More Harm Than Good?

I’m a Marine Corps veteran who enlisted during the Vietnam war. As such, I believe I’ve earned the right to make a few observations about our use of the military throughout the world.

I think an overall concern for the welfare and freedom of humanity is a good cause. I’m just not sure that using our military as goodwill ambassadors for freedom and democracy is all that effective. Any military must first be an effective fighting force, but it’s use should be limited to preserving the nation and it’s people. The first loyalty of any person is to serve and protect their family, then their community, and finally their nation. Going beyond that requires more than just your independent will and might.

If for example, another country invaded the US and said, we’re going to install a new government, bomb your cities, kill off anyone that dares lift a hand against us, the average American would think that’s intolerable and would fight against this foreign intervention. Yet for some reason, we’ve been doing this for decades and believe the world is a better place because of this action.

I’m not the first or last to criticize our leadership when they make these type of decisions. I certainly consider myself pro-America, and pro-military. My honorable discharge from the Marines should exemplify that, but I think we do the nation a disservice when we become puppets to a country which leads with its big stick.

I think our influence would go a lot further if we backed away from a strategy of military aggression. Let’s resort to using the military to be able to defend the homeland, not go off and kill other people in a preemptive cause, thinking it’s OK if we kill you, because you might do us harm later.

That’s like sending police into a neighborhood, breaking down doors, arresting all males between 14 to 45 because they might commit a crime.

Then we wonder, why do they hate us and want to commit acts of terrorism?

We just aren’t being honest with ourselves. We must realize we’re fueling and fanning the flames of our own destruction. I’m not creating apologies for terrorists, but there’s two sides to every story. I don’t think we’re doing a good job of examining the other side.

This year, let’s remind ourselves of how our country was established and guided by inspired wisdom. George Washington first explained that our nation should steer clear of foreign entanglements. His words were made even more clear by Thomas Jefferson when he said, “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.