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“WE NEED EVERY VETERAN”
by OPOVV, ©2014
(Oct. 11, 2014) — We were Veterans spinning out of control, and by some mysterious force we’d find ourselves at my apartment watching Star Trek together, same time, every weekday. How it all came about no one remembers, but we would assume a different role during each episode by where we sat. The easy chair, sitting directly in front of the television set, was the Captain’s chair, and the one farthest away from the set was where Scotty tweaked his Dilithium crystals. Other chairs were whatever we wanted them to be: photon torpedo-launching station, helm, or maybe the doctor was in the house.
Arnold Ziffle starred in the other television show, Green Acres, that we related to, but we never watched that one together because it was shown at the time of our evening meal. Instead, we would gather and discuss the exploits of Mr. Douglas’s dealings with Mr. Haney, the gossip at Drucker’s store, what Arnold learned at school that day, and wasn’t it nice that Arnold liked Hollywood westerns. We would dissect each episode as if we were brain surgeons cutting delicately away at what made it work: the sets, the lighting, the story.
We were all suffering from some sort of “Back-in-the-World” syndrome from our experiences in a lush green land on the other side of the world with an odor about it that we would just as soon forget. But we couldn’t forget it. The times that we watched Star Trek we could live for an hour without the fear of remembering what was going to (possibly) give us our next nightmare from which we’d wake up screaming or crying, but sweating and shaking for sure. And nervous, deathly afraid of falling back to sleep and doing it all over again.
A nightmare, a real-honest-to-goodness nightmare, leaves one drained to the point of feeling like a puddle on the floor. The only survival imperative that kicks in is to stay awake so as to avoid a repeat at all costs. Of course we have to sleep, but in order to avoid a nightmare one learns to make oneself as comatose as possible; at least that was the survival technique at the time. Nowadays there’s counseling available, but we did the best we could with what we had, which was each other, Star Trek and the Adventures of Arnold.
That was a few years ago, more like 40. I recently looked up my old fraternity of lost souls and found that, yes, they were all still alive, much to my everlasting joy, if you can believe it. We all divorced our first wives, which was really sad to hear, for they stuck by us when we woke up crying, but we couldn’t stay with them because of it. You had to be there to understand it.
The other night there was a television show about Star Trek and what it meant to some folks. From my perspective it allowed us Vietnam Vets to escape into the world of the possibilities that there’s some hope, after all, for the human race. Arnold and his fellow actors gave us the laughter that we were so desperately searching for. We Vietnam Vets made it, but we paid a very high price.
But the Vets of today have it ten times worse than the Vietnam Vets: suicide statistics bear out that sad fact. Obama, the de facto Commander-in-Chief, is destroying the USA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the last six years, have just sat back and let it happen: no wonder why our troops are so messed up. But spread the word: we need every Veteran we can get for the fight for our country in our country.