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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U.S. Army C-rations

My dad brought back his C-rations and each packet still contains its original contents. Matches Package reads: These matches are designed especially for damp climates. But, they will not light when wet, or after long exposure (several weeks) to very damp air. D.D. Bean & Sons, Jaffrey, NH

C-ration matches

C-ration matches

The C-ration packet below has the following words imprinted on it: Accessory Packet: Cigarettes; Matches; Chewing Gum; Continue reading

Dear John Letter

My dad got married in 1966 hoping that it would help him avoid the war, obviously it didn’t. I don’t know anything about this marriage except that both were young. I never asked if it was a marriage of convenience or one of true love so while I’ve been going through his letters home I started to take note of the times my dad mentioned his wife.

To provide a little more context: He was drafted in April 1966, married October 1966, and reported for duty January 1967. He was in-country June 1967-June 1968.

Letter home 1 June 1967

Well today got 2 letters from my wife, didn’t get any yesterday. I maybe shouldn’t say anything about this but I’ve got to tell someone it has to do with my wife. It started in AIT when I didn’t write her for about a month-well I hurt her very badly. She was so cold to me almost the whole time I was home because I hurt her so bad. She said something to me about getting a separation. I keep wondering if she only writes me because Continue reading

Of peace on earth, goodwill toward men

Here is a Christmas card the soldiers were issued that they used to send home to friends, family, and, in this case, a friend’s family:

xmas062

The preprinted portion inside the card reads: May the Peace and Happiness of Christmas be yours today and throughout the New Year from The First Team.

xmas2063

For more on Christmas in Vietnam:

Please watch the following youtube video which is a collection of photos captured by American soldiers who served in Vietnam and depicts how they celebrated the season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX-OWGxuIwM

And of course Bob Hope’s 1967 USO Christmas Special from Saigon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzOsLRT7d5c

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!