Veterans Stand Down

Local Stand Down event

Local Stand Down event

I had the opportunity to participate (as a vendor) in a Stand Down event recently. For those of you who don’t know what it is here’s a brief description:

The concept of Stand Down, as related specifically to the homeless veteran crisis, was the brainchild of two Vietnam veterans, Robert Van Keuren, and Dr. Jon Nachison. The first Stand Down was held in San Diego during the summer of 1988. Today these events occur all across the U.S. and are coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and local organizations typically lasting one to three days and providing services to mainly homeless Veterans.

Thousand of veterans arrived Continue reading

The Plight of the Vietnam Veteran

This letter to the editor, written in 1986 by my dad’s friend and fellow Bravo Company “Sky Trooper,” sadly still resonates today. Below are excerpts of that letter.

“Vietnam veterans and nation still recovering”

Last week this letter came to me in the mail. And, though it was addressed to me, clearly it was written to you, too – to all of us. So I wanted you to see it:

            “I have been following [this] column on the situation of the Vietnam veteran. It is encouraging to know that there are a few who still consider his plight. Continue reading

Veterans and Community Service

U.S.

There was absolutely no way Ian Smith was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. He was sure of it.

He was O.K. He was living with his girlfriend in a suburb of Nashville working three jobs — mowing lawns, delivering pizzas, cleaning a local church. He was carrying a 4.0 average at Volunteer State Community College. Yes, he’d seen some terrible stuff during two tours in Iraq. But others had been through much worse. He’d never been wounded. He was alive.

But it was a strange sort of alive. He lived on his couch, with his pistol. He didn’t sleep much. The only way he could get to sleep was by getting drunk, so he got drunk every night and slept with his gun under the pillow. He had gained 60 lb. since leaving the Army in February 2009. He drank more and more. His girlfriend left him. He put the gun…

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