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“By Combat Veterans for Combat Veterans”
Readjustment Counselor: Bruce Solomon

On Panel #30W of the Traveling Vietnam War Memorial Wall there are 18 names of men who died between 0250 hours and 0600 hours early on a March morning in 1969. Some of these men I knew better than others because of their performance. Time-in-country didn’t matter much in terms of familiarity; at times, when at war, one can hide nicely in a crowd of one… Familiarity was far more skills-based; what one can do, how easily one gets “ate-up,” and whether one manages their fear or vice-versa. The less I knew about an FNG, his girl, his folks, his life, and his dreams the better it was for both of us because there are less expectations all the way around; people died all the time and the more anonymity the less pain for those not released.

As an acting platoon sergeant those 18 men were mine, as it turned out more in terms of being equipment to get a job done than to keep them alive and send them home. I honestly believed, at first, that my job was the latter but like I said, in the grand scheme of things they were held by my government and the citizens back in the world as equipment used to get a job done; by the government to snuff out “the enemy”, by the citizens to “overthrow” the government.

I talked to those men over the course of five days, they just listened. I told them that I had worked all of my life to make it a good thing that I had lived. I told them that I knew that they had no expectations of me; they just wanted life to matter to me. I reported that our country is in shambles in terms of clarity of purpose, operating from integrity, and trustworthiness in the eyes of our citizens and the whole at large. I told them that the young continued to die on foreign soil for no understandable purpose and without a conceivable endgame. I told them that the approval rating of our President was lower than at any time in history and that our politicians represented themselves and we were fine with that; at least fine enough to not rise up and vote them out of office and vote people in who would stand for what American use to be. I told them that we, the boomers, have “Duck Dynasty” and the younger ones have “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield #4”, and sometimes we watched “Dancing with the Stars” together as a family.
As I left Sunday morning The Wall was softly weeping…
Bruce C. Solomon, MSW
Readjustment Counselor
The St. George Vet Center
-“The worst leaders are those the people hate, the next worse are those the people fear, but the best leaders are those that, when the job is done the people say, “We did it ourselves!” –Lao Tzu

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