War Poetry Never Loses Currency Part 1

T.S Eliot once asked, “how much reality can humankind handle?”  One may now ask how much war can humankind handle? Maybe more than we expected, particularly if the reality of it remains abstract and blanketed in ideology. Poetry removes that blanket, and exposes us to the cold of war. The chill is all yours and the blanket can be draped back at anytime..yet the shivers remain.

The following poem is referencing a use of chemical weapons on a fellow soldier in World War 1, the ‘war to end all wars.”Somewhat bizarre that 100 years later the topic is back on the table in Syria and in the souls of the elected officials and military leaders of America. Their decision tree tonight and the days to come, may well define the balance and equanimity of this nation for decades to come.

With social media now permeating all our waking hours, the citizenry often mimics little Pentagon’s. The commentary is ubiquitous and the ME-dia, (funny how that could almost be Latin..”through ME”), give their obsequious, obsessive need for ratings and dollars over to any one with a confabulated resume who will speak the same message for 24 /7 cable news. Few have ever been to war. Never have there been so few of our members of Congress and the Senate that  have ever served in the Armed Forces. Fewer of our citizens have ever served than the last 100 years.

So how will we ever grasp the meaning of war..just or otherwise, if not through the eyes of “old eyes and grey souls,” of  the soldiers who have bled and served in harms way.

The  phrase, “old eyes, gray souls,” is the title of a book of poetry by former Army Platoon Officer  in Vietnam: Bill Black. A few more  of his poems will follow.

The next selection is the poetry of a former Marine mortarman  Pete Bourret, who served with the 7th Marines in Vietnam in 1967-68

There will be more poems to follow, in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, to be held in Scottsdale,(named after General Winfield Scott) on October 5th at Scottsdale Hotel Resort.


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4)
Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.
Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . .
Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12)
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13)
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.(15)

Wilfred Owen
8 October 1917 – March, 1918

“Old Eyes, Grey Souls” by  former Army Lt.Bill Black

The old man was sad as he walked away/ He should not have seen what he saw today/ He hoped this group would escape it some way/ He knew it well from days gone by/ He knew the anguish would not die.

The young guys were still sitting where/ no talking just drinking he could swear/ They each remembered some personal,”there.”/ They were easy to tell from the other guys/ They were the young guys with old eyes.

His own,”there” had been along a riverside/ In an area so low it had a high tide/That had colored rust brown from the blood/ From the bodies from friends that had stood/ As part of a team,his buddies on each side.

Their lives and times were shaped in a way/ That if they mentioned the place few could say/ That they had heard or knew of the place/ Or what the group went through/ A look, a word, a face/ Or a scene was it took for the memory to race.

So they sat with a stare, so far away while memories replay/Places and days they wish would go away/ The eyes mirror a soul locked on a scene from that day/ Tears that they could not cry were frozen behind old eyes/ Chilled from the depths of the souls already grey.

The old man sighed as he remembered other guys/Who looked this way as their nightmares flowed into the day/Long lost, dead but never escaping the way/ The eyes showed their souls/ So young in years but already grey.

“Existential Angst ” by former Marine mortarman  Pete Bourret

Stars everywhere/ Cricket chatter/ Cold beads of sweat/ meet my hand/ as it roams the geography of my face/ The thought is back/ Someone in the darkness wants to kill me.

“The Secret Law of Physics” by Pete Bourret

Mortar round exploding….shrapnel racing…tirelessly..aimlessly..endlessly…through dozens of  Decembers/ Until the grunt’s child feels the burning metal shards of yesterdays war/ made unfairly present by daddy’ s sentence in his prison of pain.

Shrapnel has no ears/ to hear a child’s whimpering under the covers.

Shrapnel has no eyes/ to see the vacant stare of a childhood stolen.

Shrapnel has no lips to count the thousand smiles that never were.

Shrapnel only has perpetual velocity/ And too much time on its hands.

This one is not a poem but very poetically written and startling when you look at the author and the time in history it was penned.

About Face..

by Smedley D. Butler, Major General, United States Marine Corps, 1936 Two time recipient of the Congressional Medal Honor

“Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken from the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to ‘about face’ , to regard murder as the order of the day.They were put shoulder to shoulder, and through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years, and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed. Then suddenly we discharged them and told them to make another, “about face.” This time they had to do their own readjusting without mass psychology, without officers aid and advice, without nation-wide propaganda. We didn’t need them any more. So we scattered them about without any speeches or parades. Many too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make the final, “about face, alone. 

General Butler is referring to the men of World War 1! Now knowing what we do about head injuries, many of these men had been permanently clocked, in the trenches of  France, from artillery fire. And we just thought grampa was a little, “touched.” How sad, we never really knew. And now the signature wound of the War on Terror is traumatic brain injury. And it is permanent. Sort of like a collective slow drip form of torture.

Again, not really a war poem, but one that always fit the bill for me and my battle buddies.

“Oh many a peer of England brews/ livelier liquor than the Muse/ And Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s way to man/ Ale man, ale the stuff to drink/ For fellows whom it hurts to think/ Look into the pewter pot/ Too see the world as the world’s not/ And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past; the mischief is that it will not last.”

“The dogs bark the caravan passes.” Carry on!

Mental Health Summit

I post material like this from others, with their permission, so as to avoid the problem with toxic links. I am not skilled enough to know how to avoid them. So enjoy the read, say what you like, and see you in the comment lounge!



Want to join the discussion on the Intergalactic web cast sponsored by the Energy Medicine Consortium for the Greater Good?

This Alternative Medicine Model has been in effect in the United States since 1935 and has been effective with a variety of mind-heart (brain-body) whole system healing.
Facilitator:  JC Himself

Research and Development Team:
Albert Einstein, “The Relativity of the Relatives as they Relate in Relationship.”
Carl Jung
Carl Jung,  Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, M.D. aline with Infinite Wisdom and envisioned a different way of approaching an old human health dilemma.  In 1951 AA  received the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation Award, administered by the American Public Health Association, for exceptional achievement in the field of medical research and public health administration. William Griffith Wilson, “Bill W.” was a World War I vet.

Bay Pines V.A. Medical Center
Post-Traumatic Spiritual Alienation
AND Recovery in Combat Veterans

1984-1985 :Dr. Joel O. Brende, M.D., Psychiatry
AND Elmer McDonald, M.Div., Chief of Chaplain Service
Bay Pines V.A. Medical Center, Bay Pines, Florida.

At the Bay Pines V.A. Medical Center, we have recognized the moral and spiritual needs of combat veterans. Working in collaboration as psychiatrist and chaplain, we first introduced a moral issues group into the ninety-day hospital treatment program for PTSD patients in early 1985.

There veterans could discuss their guilt feelings, loss of conscience, hopelessness about finding peace of mind and alienation from God, although ten percent of the patients initially resisted participation out of fear that “God would be pushed on them.” Eventually we developed a structured approach to integrate psychological and spiritual topics by using twelve themes and spiritual steps which were presented to interested combat veterans over an eight-week period.

The steps were patterned in a small way after (AA) Twelve Step Program.  Additional themes and steps were devised specific for combat veterans.

One day it will be realized that men are distinguishable from one another as much by the forms their memories take as by their characters.  Soldiers deeply wounded in spirit by the violence and evil of the war are able, through moral and spiritual reintegration, to recover meaning and value in life.   Bay Pines,  Research and Development
Trauma, Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Recovery

Steps AND Themes

1. Power vs. Victimization: We admit we are powerless
AND our lives have become unmanageable.

2. Seeking Meaning in Survival: We come to believe that a Power
Greater Than Ourselves  can restore us to sanity

3. Trust: We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the
care of Our Higher Power, as we understand Our Higher Power.

4. Self Inventory: We make a searching AND fearless inventory
of ourselves.

5. Anger: We admit to Our Higher Power, to ourselves,
AND to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

6. Fear: We are entirely ready to have Our Higher Power
remove our shortcomings.

7. Guilt: We humbly ask Our Higher Power to remove our defects
of character.

8. Grief: We make a list of all persons we have harmed
AND become willing to make amends to them all.

9. Suicide vs. Life: We make direct amends to such people whenever
possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Revenge vs. Forgiveness: We continue to take personal inventory
AND when we are wrong promptly admit it.

11. Finding a Purpose: We seek  through prayer AND meditation to
improve our conscious contact with  Our Higher Power, as we
understand Our Higher Power praying only for knowledge of Our
Higher Power’s will for us AND the power to carry it out.

12. Love AND Relationships:     Having had a Spiritual Awakening  as
result of these steps, we continue to carry this message to those
who still suffer   AND to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Research AND Development

There veterans could discuss their guilt feelings, loss of conscience, hopelessness about finding peace of mind and alienation from God, although ten percent of the patients initially resisted participation out of fear that “God would be pushed on them.” Eventually we developed a structured approach to integrate psychological and spiritual topics by using twelve themes and spiritual steps which were presented to interested combat veterans over an eight-week period.

The steps were patterned in a small way after the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Twelve Step Program,(17) integrating some of the following AA principles:
1) Recovery — an on-going process rather than a cure.
2) Education — how to live a meaningful life.
3) Inter-dependency of group members.
4) Dependency on God or a “Higher Power” —
to be interpreted in a personal way.

Additional themes and steps were devised specific for combat veterans which included the following principles:
1) Education pertaining to controlling target PTSD symptoms and self-
destructive, destructive, and revengeful behaviors unique to the survivors of war.
2) Discussion and sharing of traumatic emotions and memories.

One day it will be realized that men are distinguishable from one another as much by the forms their memories take as by their characters.(1)   Soldiers deeply wounded in spirit by the violence and evil of the war are able, through moral and spiritual reintegration, to recover meaning and value in life.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the problems of Vietnam veterans were too often ignored, misdiagnosed, and mistreated. Only a handful of mental health professionals became interested. Psychiatrists Robert Lifton and Chaim Shatan were among those few.

They and their colleagues established ‘rap groups’ for Vietnam Veterans against the War. Lifton’s account of these groups revealed the moral dilemma these men experienced as they found themselves suffering identity ‘splits’ — ‘both victims and executioners’ — caused by a war they came to believe was immoral.(2)  During the war, most Americans either remained detached from or protested the
‘Vietnam conflict.’ When American Soldiers came home from their one-year tour of duty, civilians greeted them with disinterest or disdain, an indication of how the war stirred up conflicting emotions and ethics.

Moral considerations may also have contributed to the slow response of the federal government to Vietnam veterans’ emotional and spiritual needs. For it wasn’t until 1979 that Congress officially mandated the Veterans Administration to provide special mental health services for these veterans. It wasn’t until 1980 that Vietnam veterans’ symptoms were given a name — “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD).(3)

And not until the early 1980s did V.A. hospitals begin to provide special hospital treatment programs for Vietnam veterans.  But even with the presence of special treatment programs, most mental health professionals have neglected to recognize and help Vietnam veterans with spiritual alienation and moral conflict. Although one of us (Joel Brende) had recognized in the early 1980s that these men suffered from identity ‘splits’ and personality disorders as a result of their war experiences,(4) no connection was made to moral conflicts.

Mental health professionals have given morality a place of little importance as a factor in the production of psychological symptoms. But unresolved moral and spiritual problems cannot be overlooked when an estimated 800,000 Vietnam veterans continue to suffer from guilt-ridden memories and festering emotional wounds that have never healed.(5)

Unresolved moral and spiritual problems must be taken into account when these veterans suffer from an unprecedented degree of destructive and self-destructive behaviors. Approximately 400,000 veterans were arrested or convicted of crimes by 1978,(6) and between 12,000 and 14,000 are estimated to be victims of suicide and self-destructive behavior yearly.

In 1984-86, while working as psychiatrist and chaplain in one of the designated treatment programs for Vietnam veterans in Bay Pines, Florida, V.A. Medical Center, we became very interested in the relationship of chronic post-traumatic symptoms to their unresolved moral problems. We became convinced that chronic symptoms were perpetuated by unresolved moral conflicts, guilt-ridden memories, and spiritual alienation.

Combat Veterans Identity Changes and Guilt

Little has been written about relationships of Vietnam veterans’ identity changes to their deep-seated sense of guilt and shame. Most will openly describe righteous indignation at having been victimized, denying that there is anything to feel ashamed of. Instead, they angrily cite the factors which contribute to their problems — inadequate treatment, loss of jobs, marriage breakups, a rejecting society, deaths of close friends, unstable environment, etc.

Clearly, these men have many losses to grieve but cannot.(7) If they break down and cry, it is only with tears associated with guilt and anger. Consequently, these combat veterans remain alienated when they appear to be normal because just under the surface are the unintegrated personality fragments that cannot grieve, cannot feel fear, and cannot express anger without something self-destructive happening.

Are they ashamed? Yes, they are. Those who seek help will eventually acknowledge their shame about many things: mainly losing the war, being rejected by society and family, and not being able to control their own lives. However, a close look at the origin of their guilt reveals a number of other factors.

We asked sixty-eight combat veterans to complete a questionnaire and rank seventy-eight different disturbing experiences on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most severely disturbing). The six most disturbing (and presumably most guilt-ridden) experiences were the following: accidentally killing other Americans, seeing close friends killed, seeing Americans killed, placing American bodies in body bags, seeing atrocities committed against Americans, and holding a friend as he was dying.

The most significant sources of guilt among these veterans were killing and death. Consequently, we have listed the following eight general categories of combat-related guilt, keeping killing human life at the top of the list:

First, there is the guilt about having taken human life.
As William Mahedy has observed, taking human life carries with it so much moral weight… [and] combat induced psychological stress involves a strain on the conscience… present in many cases even when a person has performed no acts for which he feels personally guilty. Just as psychological stress has continued for years after the war, so has the residue of moral strain. It is still another source of desolation of the spirit.(8)

Second, veterans suffer significantly from the guilt of having lost prior moral values, permitting them freely to kill and commit atrocities. Many of these combat veterans had believed in God and the Ten Commandments during pre-war adolescence.   A survey of thirty Vietnam veterans at the Bay Pines V.A. Medical Center revealed that seventy-five percent came from a religious background, but combat experiences and the deaths of close friends often caused them to lose faith that God had any power to help. Mahedy comments, “[The] sense of an intimate tenderness is exactly what one loses in a combat zone or in the other wastelands of the world” (p. 206).

Third, when soldiers lost their moral values during combat, they generally developed a combat identity in the form of a ‘killer self’ which later caused them considerable guilt during civilian life. Young soldiers, potentially overwhelmed with fear, grief, and guilt, controlled their vulnerability by hardening themselves to the loss of friends killed by enemy fire and became conscience-less, taking God-like powers of life and death into their own hands. One veteran who recalled this feeling said, “I loved the ‘adrenalin rush’ of killing. The best high I had in Vietnam was the thrill of the kill. I ‘got off’ on the feeling of having power over life and death. My God was an M-16.”

Fourth, the enormity of unresolved guilt about past and present violent acts and wishes is a source of self-destructive symptoms about which they also feel guilty. Ninety percent of the Vietnam veterans surveyed believed they survived combat in order to be made to suffer, and forty-eight percent believed that suffering was a punishment for things they had done in Vietnam.

Fifth, the guilt of veterans is perpetuated by their inability to control violent thoughts and urges. A survey of thirty of the Vietnam veterans receiving hospital treatment for PTSD at Bay Pines V.A. Medical Center showed that many have persistent violent thoughts and behaviors: seventy percent had made one or more suicide attempts, ninety-eight percent had homicidal fantasies when angry, sixty percent had homicidal fantasies daily, seventy-three percent have been arrested for criminal behavior.

Sixth, soldiers in combat often permitted themselves to be instruments of evil forces, either knowingly or unknowingly.   Many have recalled making spoken or unspoken pacts with the devil to bolster feelings of omnipotence over death, and later felt guilty. As one veteran related, “I laid out in a field with twelve bullet holes in me for four hours and I have the feeling that I made a pledge to some spiritual power that I would do anything if he kept me alive. Ever since then, I have had a feeling of dread that I ‘sold out’ to the devil.”

Seventh, combat veterans often suffer the additional guilt of turning themselves against God and becoming spiritually hardened. One army soldier — a ‘born-again’ Baptist church member before military service — related, “Our whole unit was sent into a battle after receiving last rites because they didn’t expect us to come back alive. It was then that the God I had believed in no longer seemed real to me. When I came back from Vietnam, I cursed God and anyone that said they believed in him.”

Many, like this veteran, became spiritually and emotionally numb when the myth of a joint supremacy of God and America died in Vietnam. As Mahedy observes, they became victims of an unprecedented and totally unexpected deadening of the soul.   The spirit went numb. The reservoir of moral resources went dry. The ‘juice and joy’ feeling that Americans believe to be the essence of religion and spirituality was no longer possible for large numbers of Vietnam veterans.

A terrible bleakness had overwhelmed the soul. Moreover, Vietnam combat sowed seeds of doubt about the foundations of faith. Not only the American religious experience but authentic biblical faith was called into serious question. Where indeed was God in Vietnam? Why did God do nothing about the slaughter? Is religious faith possible after Vietnam? Can life ever have meaning again? (p. 32).

Finally, many felt the guilt of being part of a morally corrupt system. It was not only individual soldiers who lost their sense of morality, but a similar loss occurred at every level of society and authority in Vietnam: The most serious corruption went through all strata of authority — right to the top. The ‘war of attrition’ strategy required that everyone play the numbers game.

Body counts became a necessity. The troops in the field knew that enemy body counts were inflated, and they also suspected that American casualty reports were not accurate. They also knew from terrible experience that some aggressive commanders were willing to get their career tickets punched by leading troops into the right kind of combat action, even if this entailed a needless expenditure of their own men’s lives. The troops new also that individuals and corporations back in the world were making big money on the war. Body counts, the military careers of their leaders, and big bucks for the folks back home — this was what the war was all about (pp. 26-27).

Those who felt morally outraged when their leaders attempted to justify this war believed, like William Mahedy, a chaplain in Vietnam, that it could not be justified. As a young American soldier put it, “Chaplain,.. it’s all bullshit …. Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity” (p. 29).

Attempts at Resolving Spiritual Alientation and Guilt

What happened to many of these men when they returned to a civilian society? Emotionally and morally outraged, they became victims of a multitude of physical and emotional symptoms alcoholism, drug addiction, anti-social behavior (many became hired killers), and suicide.

Nearly a half-million Vietnam veterans have been arrested one or more times, are on probation, awaiting court appearances, serving sentences, or on parole. Many described their loss of human sensitivity and emotional and spiritual responsiveness by saying, “I lost my soul in Vietnam.” Rather than feeling guilt and grief, it was easier to express rage towards God, country, military leaders, friends, society, and the V.A. system.

A number of Vietnam veterans first sought relief from their spiritual alienation and guilt by seeking out ministers, priests, or rabbis shortly after returning to this country. Commonly, however, they found little relief, which only intensified their feelings of abandonment and betrayal by Church and God, about whom they said “Where was God when we needed him? He abandoned our friends, he abandoned us, and we have no use for him any more.”

Reports of spiritual transformations have been uncommon in guilt-ridden combat veterans. This may be because of at least two factors. First, the complex guilt of combat veterans requires interventions at several levels — psychological, emotional, and spiritual. Second, there are few personnel who are well-prepared to make those interventions, both individually and in collaboration.

Theories and Therapists

Who is best qualified to make these interventions? Many clergy are skilled in psychological concepts and counseling techniques learned in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Programs.(9) Nonetheless, they were first trained to make spiritual interventions and provide spiritual counseling, a fact often ignored in the treatment of guilt-related emotional disturbances.

Perhaps Vietnam veterans’ complex problems might best be helped when members of the clergy work in collaboration with psychotherapists. Of course that would require that psychiatric personnel recognize the important role of clergy in the recovery process. Similarly, the former president of the American Psychiatric Association, Alan Stone, has suggested that psychiatrists consider matters of morality as they treat their patients:

Psychiatry does not stand outside history or morality …. Psychiatrists are taught to avoid value judgments in their dealing with s patients, but I do not believe I make a radical claim when I assert that history and morality are a presence in the therapist’s office …. I am deeply suspicious of anyone who makes the contrary claim that history, morality, and human values are all irrelevant to psychiatry ….(10)

Founded on psychoanalytic principles, traditional psychotherapy has been limited in its effectiveness because it lacks a comprehensive approach for resolving guilt. Psychoanalytic theory holds that neurotic guilt, caused by conflicts between id impulses and super-ego constraints, can be treated effectively. Indeed, traditionally trained psychotherapists apply this theory to resolve their patients’ neurotic guilt.
This theory has some applicability to combat veterans, particularly in regard to basic training, when recruits suspend the super-ego restraints of traditional moral values and collective guilt by believing they are fighting a ‘just war’ (like their fathers fought in World War II).(11) But this principle had limited effectiveness at relieving the collective guilt of American soldiers in a war that was neither officially declared nor sanctioned by the American people.

Other traditional psychological and psychoanalytic theories can be helpful in understanding the proper treatment of men with personality disorders. For example, applied object-relations theory can help therapists in their treatment of men whose symptoms are associated with persistent identifications with idealized dead comrades or idealized maternal introjects (the group of men they become closely identified with). For these persistent attachments can be partly understood to be a defense against unresolved abandonment depression.(12) Yet these theories still fall short and so not help resolve persistent and unrelenting post-Vietnam memories related to actual guilt and shame.

Less traditional in his approach, Lifton developed useful concepts related to survival guilt, which included the guilt caused by four factors: surviving while others died, invulnerability, destructive effects on others (the ‘death taint’), and failing to fulfill their purpose (winning the war and saving the South Vietnamese from Communism).

During the ‘rap groups’ which Lifton and his colleagues, Shatan and Shapiro, began during the early 1970s, many veterans made strides towards resolving guilt-related problems by talking about their experiences in supportive groups with other veterans.(13)

As they recovered, they were able to convert ‘lacerating guilt’ into ‘animating guilt.’ In doing so, many became free to move ahead in life, receive further training or education, and provide help for others, particularly other veterans.

The common factors which limit therapists who treat combat veterans are personal ones, unrelated to the theoretical bases for therapy. Commonly, mental health professions avoid treating these men. They are rarely able to ‘stomach’ their violent stories during individual and group therapy, and consequently avoid asking detailed questions.

Although many inexperienced therapists are willing to learn, they are unaccustomed to reports of atrocities. Hence, they are unprepared to explore veterans’ experiences in depth, a necessary step in resolving guilt. Marin has reported ‘vets groups’ where this problem occurred.

Therapists were unable to respond therapeutically to the descriptions of violent experiences: “the first was the planned slaughter of civilian village populations suspected of being VC sympathizers, and the second was the ‘recreational’ violence in which a GI might, for the fun of it, gun down a woman crossing a field or a child on the road.”(14)

Other young therapists have been overwhelmed with feelings they’ve never had before: The tales of such atrocities stimulated… feelings of anxiety and disgust [in us as group therapists].., so much so that one of us had nightmares about Vietnam.

We also experienced a kind of primitive admiration, awe, and even envy about the depth and intensity of their experiences with life and death, and at times found ourselves getting caught up in the excitement of their sadism.(15)

Guilt Resolution, Spiritual Transformation,
and Judeo-Christian Principles

In spite of empathic therapists who apply known therapeutic techniques and theories towards helping combat veterans, there is a limit as to the degree of guilt-resolution that be accomplished. Is it possible for combat veterans to find guilt resolution and spiritual transformation through Judeo-Christian spiritual principles?

We found several biographical accounts which suggested that this could happen. A very dramatic self-report came from John Steer, a Marine combat veteran in Vietnam, who wrote an autobiography in 1982 wherein he described his traumatic childhood and combat related experiences.(16)

Steer suffered from a personality disorder before entering military service; upon discharge he developed the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and alcoholism for which he sought psychiatric help with little or no help. Then, seven years after the war, he had a Christian conversion experience which brought about a remarkable change in his life.
His nearly broken marriage was restored and his recurring traumatic dreams, rage attacks, and alcoholism ceased to be problems. Furthermore, his sense of pervasive meaningless was replaced by a desire to help others. Since then he has maintained a normal family life and developed a self-supporting spiritual ministry for helping people in need, particularly other combat veterans.

In another example, a former patient of the Bay Pines Stress Recovery Program who left the hospital treatment program abruptly when he assaulted another patient, reported a Christian conversion experience nine months after discharge. His symptoms included rage attacks, nightmares, intrusive imagery, guilt feelings, emotional detachment, alcoholism, flashbacks, episodes of dissociation, and feelings that his body was possessed by evil spirits. He described lying in bed one night, fearful of going to sleep: “I felt that if I went to sleep, the Devil would get hold of me and I’d wake up in hell. So I called out to my wife and asked her to pray for me. She did, and I asked Jesus to take over my life. Within one or two days, I began to get a sense of peace and a new feeling of self-control that I had never had during the previous fifteen years.”

Among references sought to provide guidance in helping combat veterans with guilt, the Bible may be the most widely used. Those who have found spiritual help believe that the Bible is source of comfort and direction for them. The story of the fall of Adam and Eve in the third chapter of Genesis contains a description of the consequences of seeking power for selfish purposes rather than obeying God which is applicable to the combat veteran’s experience of alienation from God from taking the power of life and death in his own hands (Gen. 3). In the Book of Psalms, the authors vividly describe symptoms that could easily come out of the mouth of a Vietnam veteran with PTSD, including death-related imagery, fear, tremors, and isolation:

My heart is severely pained within me and the terrors of death have fallen upon me,   and horror has overwhelmed me…
Oh, that I had wings like a dove.  For then I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off and remain in the wilderness. (Psalm 55:4-8)

Feelings of alienation from God are described perfectly:
O God, you have cast us off.
You have broken us down:
You have been displeased; Oh restore us again! (Psalm 60:1)

For combat veterans from Christian backgrounds (eighty-five percent of our patients) the New Testament has been suggested as a reference pertaining to the following themes: Jesus healing the sick (Matt. 4:24, Luke 3, John 5, Mark 5), the positive power which follows belief in Jesus (Mark 9: 17-29), the results of unbelief (Luke 1: 18-23), forgiveness (John 21, Mark 15:69-72) help for despair and loneliness (Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34, Luke, 22:39-47), and Jesus’ mission of forgiveness and healing (Mark 11:24-25, Luke 23:32-35, 42-43; Matt 5:17-26, 6:17-20).

William P. Mahedy, a combat chaplain who became a social worker in the Vietnam Veterans Outreach Program in 1979, was one of the first counsellors to recognize veterans’ spiritual desolation. In his book, Out of the Night, he successfully used Biblical references in his interpretation of combat veterans’ problems: “Having confronted God in the desert of their souls, the vets provide a contemporary model for the anguish of Job, the cry of the Psalmist, and even of the agony of Jesus himself” (p. 195). Combat veterans often remain enraged — yet helpless to combat evil: “Serious encounters with evils like hunger, poverty, homelessness, and war almost always result in a sense of personal powerlessness, emptiness, and spiritual darkness” (p. 201).

Mahedy has suggested that combat veterans seek spiritual transformation to gain “freedom from the violence of the soul which is a residue from the violence of war.” Their spiritual quest may be best guided by counsellors who have had similar experiences, even if unrelated to war: “Touched by evil on a much larger scale than that of mere personal suffering, these true servants of the Lord experienced a deep anguish, sometimes bordering on the despair” (p. 201).

He believes that Vietnam vets and others who have felt the desolation of humanity’s gulags have ample resources to negotiate their journey out of the night. Scripture, the writings of the mystics, and guidance from those with personal experience of winter in the spirit are sufficient maps for the journey as long as one remembers that God alone is the light at the end of the tunnel (p. 201).

Many avoid spiritual help or feel abandoned primarily because of their intense anger at God. Mahedy encourages these men to express their angry feelings to God honestly and then listen for God’s response. Such rage may be traced to the evil which surrounded combat veterans and made them victims of spiritual alienation, as Mahedy comments:

War is an explosion of hatred into systematic and ruthless violence. Its savagery is beyond description. War represents a complete breakdown in the virtue of love among those who share a common humanity under God. If we take seriously the passage from 1 John, we must admit that the love of God is incompatible with the
kind of hatred war unleashes. Cut off from love, we are cut off from God in the only avenue of access our limited nature really possesses.

Isolation from God under these conditions brings about a different kind of spiritual night …. [It is a] darkness that closes in upon us when our souls are pervaded with hatred… (p. 208).  Mahedy discovered that God’s help is important to combat the power of evil in the world. Recovery is not possible until these men are willing to “walk away from the anger, rage, and hatred that are the war’s continuing residue. One cannot make a lifetime career out of hating the Vietnamese — or Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Jane Fonda, either” (p. 209).

Mahedy encourages veterans to seek God in a personal way, however obscure God may seem to be: The God revealed in the Hebrew Scripture is intensely personal but always obscure, and he is frequently encountered in a desert or on a lonely mountaintop. In the New Testament, Jesus is recognized as Lord in His resurrection from the dead, but the risen Lord always goes on ahead of His disciples into Galilee and then ascends to the Father …. I believe the journey in spiritual darkness ultimately brings one to perceive God in this fashion. Perhaps a more intimate and tender sense of divine presence returns for a time — I know a number of combat veterans who have regained or acquired for the first time a powerful awareness of Jesus as friend — but most often the Lord seems to be saying, as he did to Mary Magdalene, ‘Do not touch me’ (p. 206).

Summary AND Conclusion

Severe and intractable symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Vietnam combat veterans are related to entrenched guilt and shame. These symptoms include changes in self-identity and destructive and self-destructive behaviors.

Surveys of hospitalized combat veterans reveal many sources of guilt, including survival guilt, guilt from taking human life, guilt about losing the war, shame about losing prior moral values and enjoying destructive powers, guilt about being instruments of evil and being part of a morally corrupt system, and guilt about causing pain and destructive effects on their families after the war.
Veterans reporting atrocities and experiences of violence are difficult to treat and provoke mixed feelings of helplessness and awe in therapists who hear their stories. Moreover, traditional therapies are inadequate and recovery unlikely or even impossible without spiritual change. Therefore, we urged these men to obtain spiritual counseling as part of a comprehensive approach to treatment. And we incorporated a spiritual dimension to our own treatment, drawing strongly from William Mahedy’s work.

Many veterans were reluctant to become involved in anything that included the name God. Further, the Veterans Administration was cautious — even hostile — towards any program which incorporated Christian concepts.

But we found that these men were more likely to sustain their recovery when involved in a spiritual group similar to that found in Alcoholics Anonymous. Thus, the most significant aspect of our treatment was the addition of a special twelve-step program for combat veterans.

Next Mindfullness Class Free To Veterans

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Free to Veterans
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Developed in 1979 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn
at the University of Massachusetts
medical school, this is a manualized,
evidence-based, 8-week program.
MBSR is highly participatory and
deeply engaging experiential learning.
Explore the interplay of mind and body
to mobilize inner resources for
learning, growing, and healing.
MBSR Info & Registration
Wednesday • July 17 • 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Library, Ada McCormick Building
1401 E. First St. (at Highland Ave.)
Friday • July 19 • 6:00 – 8:00 pm
1195 E. Speedway
MBSR 8-Week Program
Wednesdays • July 24 – Sept. 11 • 6:00 – 8:30 pm
Saturday • Aug. 31 • 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Library, Ada McCormick Building
1401 E. First St. (at Highland Ave.)
Fridays • July 26 – Sept. 13 • 6:00 – 8:30 pm
Saturday • Aug. 31 • 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
1195 E. Speedway NEXT SESSION – SEPT. 25 – NOV. 22
Drs. Teri Davis and Dana Ferris have participated in professional
training with Drs. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli, and have
completed training programs at the Center for Mindfulness at
UMass Medical School. Dana is a clinical psychologist.
Teri is a naturopathic physician and founder of
Purple Mountain Institute and the Mindful Veterans Project.
To Register:
Attend one of the introductory
classes, 6-8 pm, July 17 or 19.
Pick up registration packet.
Bring completed packet to Class #1.
Suggested Donation for Registration: $500 (MBSR)
No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
Free to veterans thanks to donations to the Mindful Veterans Project.
Purple Mountain Institute*
120 S. Houghton Road
Suite 138 PMB 174
Tucson, AZ 85748
Teri Davis, ND • Executive Director
Words From MBSR Graduates
“. . . complete change in my understanding of how I can participate in my
own wellness. I have specific, tangible methods for coping with stress
and challenges now, which I’ve never had before . . . . It was so very helpful
to me that I would recommend it unconditionally.”
“I learned how to be more compassionate with myself.
To note a thought as just a thought, an emotion just an emotion –
I do not need to act or react to them.”
*Purple Mountain Institute is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, EID# 31-1733820.
drop-in meditation
For veterans, MBSR graduates
and community members.
No meditation experience
required. 6:00 – 7:30 pm.
1195 E. Speedway
Free to veterans
and their partners.
1401 E. 1st Street
Free to women veterans.
1195 E. Speedway *
* *

Truth Is the First Casualty of War: But Whose?

The First Casualty of War is Truth    by Col.Joe Abodeley

The War on Truth was fought savagely by pro-Communist factions misrepresenting the reasons or causes of the Vietnam War, how it was conducted, and the quality of the veterans’ service and successes.

Reasons or Causes of the War

Irrespective of the controversy of the Gulf of Tonkin incidents (North Vietnamese speed boats attacking U.S. destroyers) or the argument that the Vietnamese were engaged in their own civil war or that the South Vietnamese government was corrupt—none of these positions justified the misrepresentations about why we actually engaged in the Vietnam War.  These positions were all part of the “War on Truth”.

The “truth” was and is that the U.S. went to war in Vietnam for the same reasons it went to war in Korea—to stop Communist aggression and expansion.  After WW II, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) to which the U.S. was a signatory obligated the U.S. to support the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) from Communist aggression.  The truth is that the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army attacked South Vietnam, and we went to war to stop that aggression.  The “war on truth” distorted the facts and was conducted by some politicians, some religious leaders, some Communist agitators (Students for a Democratic Society or SDS), anti-war protesters who did not want to serve in the war, and the media.

Television brought the horrors of war into the living rooms of the American public each evening, and large scale anti-war protests made great photos and stories for the press.  Meanwhile Americans were fighting and dying in Vietnam.

The Conduct of the War

The anti-war factions presented and portrayed images with their spin to tell half-truths in support of their agendas.

Consider the Tet Offensive in 1968 when the Viet Cong (VC) and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) conducted numerous attacks throughout South Vietnam hoping to engender a massive uprising of the populace in support of the Communist offensive. The truth is that the attacks were an abysmal failure.

The U.S. embassy in Saigon was attacked and occupied by the Viet Cong for only a matter of hours until U.S. MPs regained control, and the Marines retook the Imperial City of Hue from the NVA in a bloody battle; but the media portrayed these actions as evidence that the U.S. could not be victorious. The truth was that it was a resounding defeat for the VC and NVA.

After the battle for Hue, Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America contributed to the “war on truth” when he opined:

“To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”

Even President Johnson recognized that when he lost Cronkite, he lost the American people.  This was a dramatic event and a powerful statement for the “war on truth”.

There was little mention about the terrorism and atrocities the NVA committed on the people of Hue and reported only after mass graves containing thousands of bodies were discovered.  The minimization of the enemy’s atrocities was part of the “war on truth”.

Remember the Vietnamese officer shooting the man in the head, the little girls running away naked from an air strike conducted on their village, and the helicopter on a building with people clamoring to board to go to safety?  These images were to justify the “war on truth” which conveyed that the U.S. conducted this war in an “evil” manner or was driven out of South Vietnam.  Neither of which is true.

The truth is that a Vietnamese Colonel summarily executed a Vietnam “sapper” whose job it was to go into the city and plant explosives to kill South Vietnamese people.   The sapper was caught in the act. This action was in the heat of battle, but perhaps the Colonel should have convened a trial with a judge, jury, court reporter to make an appellate record; and of course, he should have appointed a defense counsel, too.

The girls running away from the village were fleeing from an air strike conducted by the South Vietnamese Air Force against enemy forces who had taken over the village and surrounding areas.  Since the Vietnam War, we have become accustomed to the expression “collateral damage”, but we weren’t before we started invading Middle Eastern countries.   We’ll never know if the girls would have survived the Communist forces occupation of their village, but the photo had fantastic propaganda effect for the “war on truth”.

The famous photo of the people trying to get on the helicopter showed a CIA helicopter on the embassy building at the very end of the war as the last remnants of U.S. personnel were being evacuated.  Most of the people depicted were Vietnamese. U.S forces had been extracted in 1973—this event was in 1975—but the spin was to make it appear that the U.S. forces were routed and driven out of South Vietnam.

The truth about the conclusion of the Vietnam War is that the U.S. bombed North Vietnam into submission in December 1972.  This brought the North Vietnamese to the peace table to sign the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973.  The U.S. brought the war to a successful conclusion at that time as the war was over.  U.S. POWs were returned and reparations were made to the South.  The U.S. promised to resupply the South with military material it needed in case the North invaded again.

But in June 1974, President Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal, and in November 1974 there was a Democratic landslide of a Congress who was anti-Nixon and anti-Vietnam War.  Congress immediately stopped funding logistical support to South Vietnam, and North Vietnamese Army tanks rolled into Saigon April 30, 1975.

The so-called “liberation” of Vietnam and Cambodia was catastrophic.  An estimated 100,000 South Vietnamese were executed, as many as 250,000 more died in “reeducation camps,” and another 45-50,000 died in the “New Economic Zones”.  An estimated 420,000 “boat people” died at sea fleeing the Communist tyranny in search of freedom. An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians were killed by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge.  A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TODAY, January 2004 article on the “killing fields”, noted that “bullets were too precious to use for executions. Axes, knives and bamboo sticks were far more common. As for children, their murderers simply battered them against trees.”  Those are facts. But the “war on truth” has conveniently omitted the “truth”.

Vietnam Veterans Service

In WW II, two-thirds of those who served were drafted while only one-third volunteered to serve.  In the Vietnam War, two-thirds volunteered while one-third were drafted.  During WW II, the infantryman served about 40 days in actual combat in a year.  In Vietnam, the infantryman served about 240 days in combat.

Much has been made about 58,000 plus lives lost in the Vietnam War as though the whole effort was for naught.  So what did the service of the Vietnam veteran really accomplish that the war on truth has misrepresented?

The Vietnam veteran served in the armed forces in Vietnam or contiguous waters or airspace or Thailand, or Laos or Cambodia in direct support of operations in Vietnam  to help the South Vietnamese people defend themselves from the invading North Vietnamese Army and to help prevent the spread of Communism throughout Southeast Asia.

The Vietnam veteran served to protect South Vietnam until the end of the war in 1973, forcing North Vietnam to sign the peace treaty, to return US POWs, and to grant concessions to South Vietnam.  He served to prevent the takeover of Southeast Asia and keep the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand free of Communism.

His service helped to develop weapons, tactics, transportation, medical evacuation procedures, and communications during the war which have proven beneficial to later military service members.

As a result of the “war on truth” he returned home to an ungrateful nation, but he endured and the vast majority of Vietnam veterans became productive, patriotic Americans whose nation is proud of their service.  The stereotyping of the majority of Vietnam veterans as “losers”, “baby-killers”, “drug addicts”, “nut cases”, “homeless”, etc. were all part of the “war on truth”.

It is reasonable to deduce that because of a national guilt for the maligning of Vietnam veterans, the American public over-compensated with “support our troops” when the U.S. invaded (“shock and awe”) and occupied the Iraqi people who did no harm to America.  This is another instance of the “war on truth”, but that is another story.

Our mission is to counter the “war on truth” about the Vietnam War.

Vietnam War Art Exhibit


War on Truth: The Vietnam Saga


The Arizona Military Museum proudly presents artwork created by Arizona Vietnam War veterans commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the war’s beginning.  This unique exhibit is compelling on several levels. Historically, the art offers the viewer a personal contact from veterans who experienced being part of a war. Aesthetically, the art is impactful in content and skill. The exhibit underscores the mission of the award-garnering Arizona Military Museum in presenting the military culture of our dynamic state. This art personalizes details of Vietnam military action in this Arizona treasure for history buffs and honors our nation’s largest segment of living veterans. Veteran literary art will dispel much of the untruths about the Vietnam War and extol the service of its veterans. This is a must see exhibition for all who honor those who have served!


The exhibit opens at the museum on Saturday, Oct. 19th, 1- 4pm.  There is a special PUBLIC RECEPTION for all to see on Saturday Oct. 26, 1-4pm to meet the artists, discover the museum treasures, enjoy refreshments, entertainment and have a memorable experience. The exhibit will be open each weekend and end on Sunday, December 1. Vietnam related art and museum Arizona history exhibits can be experienced every Saturday and Sunday, 1-4pm.  Free admission. The museum is located on the Papago Park Military Reservation.  Enter just east of 52nd St. at Bushmaster Blvd. and McDowell on the north side. Please have your driver’s license ready to display as you go through the guard post heading west along the inside of the fence on your left until you arrive at the historical Spanish style fortress where you’ll discover the military history of Arizona and an insightful, interesting art exhibit.


The exhibit curators are John Fontana, Arizona Art Alliance and Jim Covarrubias, Ariztlan, Inc.  The museum director is Colonel Joe Abodeely, USA (Ret).  For more information on helping with this exhibit as a sponsor or to exhibit your art, contact John @ 480-945-5028, johnfontana@azartalliance.com or Jim @ 602-579-6308, jl.covarrubias01@gmail.com or Joe @ 520-868-6777 or 602-509-8762, joeabo@qwestoffice.net.

History of Vietnam War As Controversial As Ever


For starters, there are never absolutes in war. Never.

As for revisionist history, they always make it sound like it is one revision.  There is no such thing. Revisionists are a dynamic bunch and lean toward absolutism. You can lay all this historical tomes out side by side and still not capture the creature called Vietnam. I have not read as much as the true scholars, but slopping through the jungle as a grunt is not an academic affair. I have completed maybe 12 histories of the war in the past 20 years.

Now you have the release of some new documents pointing to Richard Nixon’s secret efforts to scuttle President Lyndon Johnson’s efforts toward a peace agreement just days before the 1968 election. I suggest you conduct your own research of this rather startling discovery. It appears Richard Nixon has a bit fond of wiretapping long before Watergate.

There was much good we did Vietnam. Did it stick? Nope, never does, never has. Enter Iraq 2013.

The item of current history that you will never find in all these pre-meditated revisionist treatises, is that we are in a very fine joint venture relationship with Vietnam for the exploration of oil.  Some may say that may explain why France, China, Japan and Russia had so much interest in Vietnam. Sure was not the rice! I have an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal, twenty years ago, quoting John McCain, during the MIA travails and the lifting of the Trade Embargo, where is quoted as saying, “but it is said there is oil of the shores of the South China Sea.” Bingo! Was it slip? Or did he intend to couch it in a third party expression. Whichever way, it puzzles me to this day that we get so lathered up about socialism yet good old communism makes for  good business partner. At least on one side of the equation all the people are controlled.

So here is the question for the revisionists. If we assisted Vietnam in achieving its own brand of nationalism, and they start supplying us with oil, than did we do good?

> Especially if you served in country, you need to know about this. The
Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University was founded by local
veterans of the war who wanted to establish a place to store and care for
memorabilia, documents and memories of the war. A substantial amount of its
funding has come from veterans who have happily supported its purpose and
donated material to it. Throughout the years, from its founding to the
present, the Center has held conferences and symposia to discuss the latest
scholarship about the war. The conferences and symposia have been attended
not only by scholars but also by Vietnam vets interested in preserving the
history of the war and correcting false information that has arisen over the
> This year, in September, the Center is hosting another conference. This
one is part of the official year long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of
the war, which, in the words of the DoD is to “honor and pay tribute to
Vietnam Veterans and their families during the 50th Anniversary of the war.”
The conference will be held in Washington, D.C. and is sponsored by the
National Archives and the DoD 50th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, so
it has the official imprimatur of the government. The theme of the
conference is 1963, a seminal year in the conflict and a crucial point in
the direction the war took. There is much disagreement among scholars as to
the significance and impact of the deposal of Ngo Diem and his later
assassination as well as Kennedy’s assassination.
> Unfortunately, the Center has recently changed Directors, and the new
Director, Dr. Steve Maxner, is taking the Center in a far left direction.
All 15 of the scholars invited to speak and serve on panels are far left
scholars who have consistently denigrated the war and its participants.
These scholars unanimously hold the view that the war was illegal, its
participants were criminals and the war had nothing to do with communism or
the domino theory.
> The foremost scholar of the so-called “revisionist” view, Dr. Mark Moyar,
had not only not been invited but is being told he can attend as a
participant but cannot speak or serve on a panel. This will be the first
time in the history of the Center that no views in opposition to the far
left interpretation of the war will be invited.
> Maxner has recently been deluged by letters of protest from Vietnam vets,
some of whom are recognized scholars on the war but has steadfastly refused
to include any revisionist scholars or even admit that the scholars that he
has invited have any bias at all. This conference, in its present makeup,
would be comparable to conducting a conference on American Black History and
only inviting white members of the KKK to “debate” the historical events.
Imagine discussing the seminal year of the Vietnam conflict with a room full
of hippies and not one single person who participated in the war or has a
different perspective on the war. The outcome is virtually guaranteed not to
“honor and pay tribute to” those of us who served.
> I may have further action items in the future. For now, there are some
things you can do:
> 1) Contact every Vietnam vet you know and point them to this exposition of
this travesty (or copy it and email it to them)
> 2) Contact Governor Perry and express your disapproval of the current
configuration of this conference
> 3) Contact your Texas Senator and Representative and voice your
> 4) Contact your Senators and Congressman regarding the conference and
express your displeasure that an event purporting to honor and respect you
will instead portray you as a war criminal and is being funded with your tax
> Please do not contact anyone at the Center or at Texas Tech. We are
already in contact with them on an academic level. The time for out and out
protest is not yet. If we cannot make changes in the conference while
working within the system, we may have to fill the conference with vets
opposing these views and turn the conference into a major news event.
> Thank you,
> Jim
> James D. Thacker, PhD
> President & Chief Science Officer
> TherimuneX Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
> 3805 Old Easton Road
> Doylestown, PA 18902-8400
> Direct Dial:  215.589.6418
> DrexelMed Office:  215.991.8335
> Email:  jim_thacker@therimunex.com
> URL:  www.therimunex.com

In trying to verify this, I contacted Gary Roush at Vietnam Helicopter
Pilots Association (VHPA) and this was his reply:

This is the first I have heard of this.  I used to be on Texas Tech’s
mailing list because I attended one of their annual symposiums
several years ago, but have dropped off the list for some
reason.  That symposium had panelists from North Vietnam, South
Vietnam, ambassadors, a political cabinet member, military
commanders, veterans, journalists, historians, academics and students
even a Buddhist monk.  I no longer remember the theme.  It was very
balanced with a very wide variety of views.  Other symposiums over
the years were similarly balanced in my view.

In reviewing the agenda on the Texas Tech web site, it appears nearly
all of the speakers and panelists are academics.  No military
commanders, no ambassadors, no journalists, no political cabinet
members, no veterans and no foreign representation.  In other words,
no one with any first hand information.  That is very troubling to me.

I have known Steve Maxner for many years, but have not really worked
with him much.  He was a guest speaker at the VHPA reunion in New
Orleans and did a really good job.  No idea why he is taking a pure
academic approach to this subject.  It seems to me to be ill advised
as this is how history gets revised by academics – by locking out
first person experience.  Of course the academics will talk about
their research and maybe even interviews of some of the players, but
we will have to take their interpretation of that information and
interviews which may not match what the players would say directly.

Looks to me like Jim’s opinion below is true.  It would be
interesting and helpful to have Steve Maxner’s view on this.  I hope
Jim can “get it sorted out on an academic level.”


This is Texas Tech’s Vietnam Center website and below it is the Sept
conference agenda:


Preliminary agenda:



Coast Guard Birthday

Let us remember August 4 the birthday of the United States Coast Guard.
The U.S. Coast Guard is one of five branches of the US Armed Forces, and falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard is the nation’s oldest continuous seagoing service with responsibilities including Search and Rescue (SAR), Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE), Aids to Navigation (ATON), Ice Breaking, Environmental Protection, Port Security and Military Readiness. In order to accomplish these missions the Coast Guard has 38,000 active-duty men and women, 8,000 Reservists, and 35,000 Auxiliary personnel who serve in a variety of job fields ranging from operation specialists and small-boat operators and maintenance specialists to electronic technicians and aviation mechanics.