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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 11/16/2021 00:24:24

Good Morning.

Perhaps by the time you read this, the Rittenhouse case will have gone to the Jury. No matter what the outcome, it's likely to not end well.

It is of course, a sign of the times, but the National Guard stands ready for any contingency.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has deployed 500 National Guard troops to the Kenosha area as the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse comes to an end.

Closing arguments are expected to begin Monday, after which the jury will deliberate.

The Guardsmen will remain on standby unless law enforcement requests their backup on the streets. The mission is made up of soldiers from multiple units from the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, according to a Guard spokesperson who would not go into detail on where the troops are staged, citing security concerns.

For civil unrest missions, Guardsmen often deploy with batons and riot shields and, in some cases, M4 rifles and less-than-lethal munitions such as rubber bullet weapons. Last year, 1,200 Wisconsin troops responded to protests in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha.

"I urge folks who are otherwise not from the area to please respect the community by reconsidering any plans to travel there and encourage those who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully," Evers said in a statement.

Guardsmen have been deployed frequently by governors in the last few years, especially during civil unrest. In 2020, units responded to dozens of protests -- including one in Kentucky during which Guardsmen shot and killed a protester. The protests were mostly reactions to the police killings of George Floyd and other unarmed Black Americans. During that summer, protests culminated in a violent showdown between Guardsmen and law enforcement against protesters in front of the White House.

What a time to be alive in America!

But moving on - We recently had Veteran's Day in this country. While other nations do take proper time and effort to honor their veterans, it feels to me like here in the United States, we merely parrot what is expected of us each and every year. "Thank you for your service". But for many, what indeed was that service?

"How does it make you feel when somebody says, ‘Thank you for your service'?" Once those words rolled off the tip of my tongue, I stared into the Zoom space on my laptop screen. I don't know what I expected in response from this Vietnam War veteran.

And then, after I looked around the room and fixed my hair during the awkward moment of silence that felt like an eternity but was probably only a handful of seconds, he responded.

"It makes me feel taken aback."

I did not expect this response, but it was understandable. I can only imagine how hearing this would bring back memories. These memories could be both good and bad, and would definitely bring up a lot of emotions. Great things might come up or possibly a traumatic experience.

As part of a school project, I watched films and read books to learn more about war, and then I talked to veterans about their experiences.

I found this veteran's response intrigued me the most as I embarked on a deep dive into what it means to serve in our nation's military. I quickly realized that comparing veterans and expecting they would all be the same is like me saying that all apples on the tree are going to be carbon copies of one another. But when I started this project, I thought the veterans would have similar answers and stories because they were from different branches of the military.

In the movies, veterans tend to be tough, male, white, so I expected that, like the movies, I would find the typical strong man who protected our country.

But when I asked Dave Donahue, a combat veteran who served in the Marine Corps and did a combat tour in Afghanistan, how he felt about being thanked for his service, he said, "It makes me feel welcomed home and accepted by society. However, I usually do not know how to respond." I was both surprised and happy to hear this. I loved knowing that this gesture possibly made veterans' transition back to civilian life easier. However, I didn't expect it to be so difficult to answer. I was left wondering, How do they respond? Do their responses end up making them feel awkward? The more I learned from them, the more curious I became.

This wasn't what I expected to hear as an eighth-grader. I anticipated the veterans would be filled with pride, and I imagined stories of small moments from their service making their whole day better. I thought they would share that they felt honored to serve our country and that they felt grateful that someone took the time to thank them.

Instead, they explained how it often made them happy, but also flustered and speechless. I quickly realized that my only impressions of war and military service was that it was all about training and combat. I had never seen the impact of war until I spoke with these veterans.

And staying dark - here is a sobering story from this past Veteran's Day. America has many eras of combat. Some are hailed as heroes, decades after their wars, but some are still reviled because of where they fought, not necessarily what they did. Vietnam Veterans are still somehow vilified - even decades after relations with that former foe were normalized.

DES MOINES — Everyone on the third floor of South View Manor was accounted for except James Dean Ryan in Room #301. A police officer, checking on a worrying smell, opened his door and found Ryan face down on his living room floor, another Vietnam veteran who died alone.

Ryan's son and other relatives were notified, but many wanted nothing to do with him, alive or dead. No one stepped forward to bury him after his death last November. So the 66-year-old with talents for disco dancing and repairing furniture became yet another of America's unclaimed dead.

There is no requirement for local governments — who are responsible for unclaimed bodies — to report them to any national authority, so there is no official count. But tens of thousands of lives in the United States end this way each year, according to a Washington Post investigation that included more than 100 interviews over six months with medical examiners and local officials from Maine to California.

A striking number — thousands every year — served in the military, especially during the Vietnam War, according to funeral directors who directly handle their bodies.

"Vietnam vets got the rawest deal of anyone," said Jim Mowrer, an Iraq War veteran who never met Ryan but volunteered to carry his urn at his Iowa funeral in June. "We have a lot of making up to do to Vietnam vets."

While those who served in uniform after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are publicly thanked for their service, soldiers in the 1960s and 1970s were often jeered. Back then, the United States was fighting a long war against North Vietnam, a communist nation supported by the Soviet Union and China, that many felt was unwinnable. It caused massive civilian casualties in Southeast Asia and street protests around the United States.

"One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam — most particularly, how we treated our troops," President Barack Obama told Vietnam veterans in 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the start of the war. "You were often blamed for a war you didn't start. ... You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame."

More than 8 million people served in uniform during Vietnam and those who are alive are typically in their 60s and 70s. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 530 Vietnam veterans die every day.

The overwhelming number are buried by family and friends. But a growing army of strangers are volunteering to wave flags and say prayers for the thousands who have no one.

It is also an unfortunate sign of the times that veterans, who generally should be held among the highest regard in society, are often cast away like human refuse. This is not where the United States should be.


10 comments (Latest Comment: 11/16/2021 19:53:31 by Raine)
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