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by OPOVV, ©2013

CDR Everett Alvarez, Jr.’s plane was shot down during the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam in 1964. He was captured and held by the North Vietnamese for eight and one-half years, during which he was tortured and beaten. After returning to the U.S., he earned a Master”s degree and a J.D. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to respective positions in the Peace Corps and Veterans’ Administration.

(Sep. 8, 2013) — [Political Correctness be damned: this editorial is written for the women of the United States.]

Snail mail, E-mails, handshakes, and, the most heart-wrenching, hugs accompanied by tears and, to top that, simultaneous his-and-her hugs with tears, thanking me with a “Hey, thanks” to “Thank you, thank you.” Well, alright, I’m truly humbled and “You’re welcomed,” I’m sure.

I didn’t write the editorial “The Ultimate Sacrifice” on August 12, 2013 for anything other than to let our troops know that they’re not as alone, stranded, overboard with no lifeline, as they may think they are.

It reminds me of the “Ultimate Betrayal,” something akin to Jane Fonda sitting on the anti-aircraft gun in Hanoi. One of our own was a guest of the Hanoi Hilton, and while he was being held prisoner, his wife divorced him (Everett Alvarez, Jr.).  I was married and moved out, and my wife and I were talking on the phone and the closest I could come up to saying “I need help” was “You don’t understand.” She responded with a cop knocking on my door with a divorce notice.

When I came back from overseas I sure didn’t have much respect for the brass at the Pentagon or the politicians in Washington for not giving us the power to do what needed to be done. I was up to my ears about the Russians and the Chinese supposedly giving a rat’s behind about North Vietnam. Maybe they cared about the opium product of Laos, but all Vietnam offers the world is insect bites and a stench that takes years to get out of your nostrils.

Our Rules of Engagement (ROE’s) in Vietnam weren’t half as debilitating as the ROE’s of our troops in Afghanistan nowadays. I came back a little out of whack, and it took decades for me to be able to deal with it. I thought I had it bad, and I did, but I survived. The troops today have it worse, and they’re not surviving. The suicide rate is out of control. Our troops are eating bullets, just as if they were killed on the battlefield. It’s the same result.

It’s the women who are the most important ingredient of the successful rebirth into The World for our troops. Maybe it’s a mother, wife, girlfriend, or just a woman’s kind gesture.

The first thing I did when I got back to the States was to walk into a diner, sit down at the formica counter, and ask the waitress to fill one of those milkshake containers full of milk, which she did, and when she served it to me she asked me if I “Just got back?” and I told her I did, to which she said, “On the house.”

A woman of the world welcoming home a troubled son. A woman who embodied an ageless soul, whose one act of kindness saved me, if not within the next couple of months, certainly within the next 40 years. And then, years later, another woman holding me as I was coming out of my last nightmare, telling me I was finally home and there was nothing more to fear, that it was all over.

Women helping our troops. The understanding touch of a woman’s hand, a kind word or gesture. A dog is also a necessary temporary crutch, a needed helping paw (hand), if that’s at all possible.

We can’t expect the government to take care of our troops after they have messed them up in the first place. I’m calling on the women of America to step up to the plate and take charge, for, when it’s all said and done, it’s up to them, anyway. I don’t want one more soldier or sailor eating a bullet. It’s the ones who say they’re “fine,” “Everything’s okay,” and “Don’t bother” for whom the red flags should pop up.

Don’t be pushy, just be there.


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