By Jimmy Edwards, Odessa
Do you have someone in your family who is a Vietnam combat veteran? I do, my younger brother Danny.
During Trump’s campaign, or maybe after he was sworn in, he made an off the wall comment to the effect that all those Veterans who claim to have PTSD are just “weak.” Bad move.
I want Trump to understand that no combat veteran who has PTSD and suffers from the aftermath of Agent Orange is weak or a weakling. I’ll let you decide if it applies in your family. These are the facts in our family and yours may be similar. During the summer, while Danny was in high school, I would take him around the country and work on construction jobs. He did the work of a man (no weakness here). Also, he was the starting tight end on Permian’s 1965 state champion football team (no weakness here). After high school he and Deanlee were married and later had a son named Chip.
In 1969 the Vietnam War was raging on. Danny was likely going to get drafted so he enlisted in the Army. Thinking maybe a clerk or typist as those recruiters were smooth talkers. After boot camp and after some schools and other training he came home as, of all things, an Airborne Ranger on the way to Vietnam (no weakness here).
June 1969, time to go to Vietnam. Deanlee and the family couldn’t handle it, so I took Danny to the airport. He felt he wouldn’t be coming home. No words can express the inward emotions as he got on that plane. I kept thinking of the tens of thousands of families who went through the same thing. We stayed fearful for a year until he came home.
While in Vietnam Danny led a special ops squad (no weakness here). His squad would be inserted in the Laotian jungle to monitor the Ho Chi Min trail and call in B-52 strikes. Men were lost on both sides. About six months of this (no weakness here). Second part of his tour, search and destroy and combat. Men were lost on both sides (no weakness here). While in Vietnam, Danny was awarded three bronze stars, one with a “V” for valor. Perhaps a fourth Bronze star somewhere in there. I’ve read his DD-214 (no weakness here). I read a letter from one of Danny’s young soldiers who was thanking Danny for saving his life (no weakness here).
Danny came home the summer of 1970. Not the same as when he left. He and tens of thousands of others came back with PTSD and some with Agent Orange issues. Danny and these other soldiers have been dealing with PTSD every day for over 47 years (no weakness here). As for Deanlee, she probably suffered just as much. Through all the ups and downs, in coping with Danny’s PTSD, she should get a medal. Wives don’t get a medal. The wives are fiercely strong when no one else is (I promise you no weakness here).
There have been 63 Veterans Day come and gone in history. More recognition for the vets, more thanks for their service. This is a good thing but it cannot overcome the aftermath of PTSD and Agent Orange. Nothing can.
I know I’ll catch hell for writing this letter, but Danny you are our hero.
Love you brother.