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To a Vietnam Vet: “Thank You for Your Service”

I was having surgery at the VA hospital. The prep nurse spoke to me reassuringly as she got me ready. As she wrapped up her tasks and prepared to roll me into surgical holding, the nurse paused and gently placed her hand on my chest.

“Thank you for your service.”

I smiled, swallowed and tried to acknowledge her kindness, but nothing came out. She seemed to understand, as we continued our way over to holding.

Sharp Contrast

As a Vietnam vet, I am always touched whenever my service is recognized; I always will be. It stands in such sharp contrast to the reception many Vietnam veterans experienced when they returned home in the 60s and 70s. They were called murderers and baby killers. They were screamed at and spat upon.

I knew of a marine who had barely survived an explosion. He was in desperate shape. It took many months and surgeries, including, as I remember, the amputation of at least one limb, to put him back on his feet.

A few years later, he caught a cab in a large city. His injuries being quite obvious, the cabbie asked him about them. When he shared that he had triggered a mine while on a combat patrol in Vietnam, the cabbie became livid and threw him out at the next corner, luggage and all.

“Put it in the Closet”

Nothing about my own story is that graphic, but, when I was being discharged in California, I was instructed to waste no time in getting home. I was strongly encouraged to remove my uniform, put it in the closet, and leave it there. “No need to borrow trouble,” they told me.

I was proud of that uniform and what it meant to me. To walk away from it broke my heart.

Times HAVE Changed

Times, of course, have changed. Vietnam veterans are being honored, and rightly so. As more and more of them suffer a plethora of diseases and conditions brought on by the long-term effects of Agent Orange, they are receiving support.

So, when the prep nurse said, “Thank you for your service,” it felt good. It felt VERY good. And, although I would no longer fit into the uniform I came home in 40+ years ago, it’s still there in the closet.

I would be ever so proud to wear it again. ###

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP
Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064 Email

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August 24, 2013 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, patriotism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dollar in the Case

For the past several years, I have held a Sunday School service at a local nursing home. I take my guitar and spend an hour or so singing, playing and visiting with the folks there. It has become an activity that charges my battery for a week.

I miss it when I miss it.

Recently, I was wrapping up a visit. I opened my guitar case to put it away, but was distracted a moment when one of the residents drew my attention. In the time while my guitar case was open, a stately gentleman rolled his wheelchair up to the case and deposited a dollar into it.

Before I even discovered the dollar in my case, he was making it down the hall to his room.

For a moment, I considered stopping by his room and giving his dollar back to him. But my second thought was the right one: He WANTED to give it, and it brought him a blessing to do so.

I took his dollar back up to the church with me, and I put it in the offering plate.

His blessing stayed, and grew, didn’t it?

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP
Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
Email

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment