Epiphanyblog

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This Vietnam Wife and Air Force Brat Says Thanks!

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Veterans who lost their lives depicted on a Wall of heart breaking lossThis evening as I listen to the Democratic National Convention, our GIs are standing with President Obama, because of what he and his Administration has done for them.

But when my husband came home from another war zone in 1969, he wasn’t welcomed. He had only himself, and me, to depend upon…and the company and union to which he belonged before he went to war. You see, in those days, companies just couldn’t fire or lay off a warrior. And, of course, in those days companies were less obsessed with shareholder returns and more in product and service enhancements for their customers.

As a radio operator, my husband, along with all other radio operators in that war theater, were kill targets. They were the first soldiers the enemy wanted to kill for obvious reasons. But I was blessed. He didn’t come home in a coffin or with the loss of a limb. Regardless, he didn’t come home unscathed. When my husband came home, he suffered from what is now diagnosed as PTSD. He changed from a mild-mannered, compassionate, gentle soul into a someone who’s violent actions could be sparked almost at a moment’s notice. There was no help for him all those years ago…and more than anything else, that lack of help probably destroyed our marriage.

I’m also an Air Force brat. My dad was a WWII vet who flew missions over Africa and then Italy. He joined the Army at 15, after pleading with his mother to come down to the recruiter’s office to declare he was 16 and old enough to join up. The Great Depression was still going strong. Dad had ridden the rails like so many young people, looking for work, when he finally decided to join up. A few years later, the Army developed the Army Air Corp. In Dad’s words, he learned he was allergic to horses so he asked to join the Air Corp. More than 20 years later, he retired as a Master Sargent and flight engineer. He served most of his Air Force career, post WWII, in the Strategic Air Command (SAC).

We moved, on average, once a year, sometimes after 3 months and sometimes after 2 years. And throughout all those years, the GIs became my family. They treated me and my brothers like their younger siblings. They played with us, letting us win at penny anti poker while grinning and laughing for example, and watched out for us at the base swimming pool. Those GIs were a community like no other I’ve seen since. I’ll never forget those young GIs, and I’ll never stop loving them.

Our GIs remain the same today. But remember our GIs are also our kids. They put their lives on the line for all of us. That’s why I believe as did President Eisenhower – and President Obama – that war is the last option after all other options have been exhausted.

Romney’s neo-con team of advisors, the same team that advised Pres. Bush, would choose war over peace talks and negotiations. For four solid years, they have advocated war with Iran, regardless of the international consequences. They wanted boots on the ground in Libya before Obama engaged in Air tactics in coordination with Europe. They want boots on the ground in Syria, even though doing so would spark an even larger Middle East war. They say Russia is our greatest enemy and China is a world-class threat. More boots on the ground and ships at sea and more planes overhead.

They say forget all the tactics President Eisenhower used to keep the US safe and end wars. Oh, and he did many times, even to nearly crashing the British pound to stop a war that the US would have been dragged into. He saw war death. He saw war destruction. He chose, as President, to use diplomacy and at times bribery to prevent war.

Yet, these men now advising Romney, who have never enlisted or served, never been on the battlefield, and never beheld death and destruction of war, would send more of our children to their deaths. Or come home as my husband did: a mentally wounded warrior.

So, tonight when I saw all those young warriors standing on the stage at the Democratic Convention, I could not but help to stand with them. As a country, we owe them so much, from jobs to education to opportunities to become well and start new lives. We owe them more than those, like my husband, who came home forgotten and alone.

So what would Romney do, besides start more wars to slaughter even more of our children for the sake of a fanciful, ill-advised “exceptional” notion? He says he’d consider privatizing the VA. What!?! Yeah, let’s make the health care our GIs more expensive after they’ve put their lives on the line for our nation.

Sure, Mr. Romney. I have three words for Romney. Politely put, Take A Hike!

President Obama, Mrs. Obama, and Dr. Biden have worked tirelessly for our GIs. I’m proud of what they have accomplished. I’m proud of the work they have done to care for our Vets as well as to prevent another war while our President has kept our country safe and rebuilt our nation’s reputation around the world.

As a military brat and the wife of war Vet, I believe in our nation and still believe in President Obama as the better foreign policy president as well as a president who has put more into caring for our returning vets since WWII. I know Romney-Ryan will not do so.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: Eisenhower decreased the military budget because of his quiet, behind the scenes diplomatic policies. President Obama is doing the same while still fighting our terrorist foes. Truman and Eisenhower provided and expanded the GI bill. Romney would not while at the same time choosing more war.

Yes, this is a choice election. My choice is with Obama rather than with the neo-cons advising Romney and their choice for more war and less concern for our GIs.

I’m proud of each of those GIs who stood on that stage this evening. I am one of them in my heart and soul because I grew up and lived their lives.

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Written by Valerie Curl

September 6, 2012 at 8:03 PM

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