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Welcome Home

I was in Vietnam in 1968-1969 as a Marine attached to 1st Bn 1st Marines Charlie Company. We went through hell while we were there and served in Booby Trap Heaven as we called it. We lost so many Marines from booby traps and it made it a challenge to go into the field daily. I was shot at, went through rice patties, through rivers and streams all the time with jungle rot because we could not keep our feet dry. It just does something to you when a buddie is shot beside you or is blown up by a boobie trap.

What really upset me when I came home was I landed at the San Francisco Airport and came off the plane and actually have people spit at me and call me a baby killer. I’ll have you know that I did not kill one baby over there, but it took everything I had from grabbing that person and doing bodily harm to them. I did not like being there either, but my country sent me there away from my family and girlfriend. I had no say so in where I would serve, so that meant you go where they tell you to go. I was there fighting so this sick SOM could spit at us when we came home.

45 years later, my life has changed drastically from the Agent Orange. I have held everything in over time and the PTSD has finally caught up with me. My wife has suffered more than I have from my PTSD, I am getting help for it now.

I want to say thank you to my wife for all her support and thank you for sticking with me for 45 years. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would of taken my life somewhere along the line. Thank you Pam for giving me my life back and being my best friend.

If you know a veteran, give them a hug or a hand shake, when all is said, they most likely need it.

Gene Stewart

USMC 1968-1971 Vietnam Vet 1968-1969

Gene Stewart
Mt Pleasant, IA

Willing to help!

My name is Candice Cowen. I grew up in a military family. I was previously married for 15 years to a Marine, so I've been around the military all my life. I know the sop, ups and downs, toll and roller coaster associated with it as well, good and bad. I volunteered a lot on several bases that I lived on. I thoroughly enjoy helping. If anyone just needs to talk, vent, an ear to listen.. I'm here for you!! Everyone needs somebody sometimes! If I can help in any way, please look me up, through this or social media (fb). God bless and take care!

Candice Cowen
Dearborn Heights, MI

widowed vet with 2 boys in need of help

I am not a veteran but I recently met an army veteran with 2 boys who is widowed that is struggling. I can't believe celebrities get paid millions and our military doesn't. The vets in our country come home and face such difficulties. He served 8 years of his life for what he believed in and has fallen through the cracks. I see this so much today in society especially being a daughter of a sergeant in the marine corps. I thank all branches of military for protecting my right to freedom. Good bless you all!

The picture posted is of him and his 2 boys

Carlisle, PA


I was at Ft. McClellan in 1977, In 1981 I gave birth to a child with Spina Bifida. I had wondered about how she might has developed this. I guess I now know. If Agent Orange can cause Spina Bifida in children born to Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to agent orange, is this why my child suffers? The VA needs to get off their rear ends and give help to all the children born with issues from parents who were stationed in a toxic dump.

Nashville, TN

Seeing God's Glory

I’d become a Marine all over again if possible: I saw, over 20 months on Navy helo carriers, most countries in the Pacific Rim, places in the ocean where there was nothing to see but the largest ocean God ever created, with no land masses anywhere in sight! Seeing so many third-world countries makes be thank God regularly that I was born an American, and was blessed enough with good health to serve the greatest nation on earth! Keeping 18-to-24 Marine helicopters up and running was a tremendous challenge for a teen-turned-20-something, but I’d do it all over again, trust me! I was taught to lead Marines, teach them what came so easily for me, and got to fire .50-caliber machine guns from the doors of those helos I kept flying safely through God’s gorgeous skies, over Hawaii, no less! I learned to trust my leaders, for they were combat-hardened, and knew many things I’d be lucky to ever be taught; they showed me Marines carrying themselves with the utmost integrity and honorability; and nurtured me to be the leader I am to this day. Having been a Marine also aided my success in the National Guard many years later, taking young men and women, who’d otherwise be back on the block, screwing their lives up royally, and instilling that integrity and respect for our brothers- and sisters-in arms. I’d do it all again, though those latter years were stressful, with several numbskulls challenging my leadership skill and patience greatly. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and my subsequent service to the VHA was made easier, having learned to carry myself with integrity, honoring those who came before me in uniformed service, for they truly deserve all we can give them! It’ll be a sad day, indeed, when the last World War II veteran dies, taking that tremendous work ethic with him or her, to the grave, and on to Heaven above, where I’m sure US Marines will be guarding the pearly gates!

Brett Holdeman
Indianapolis, IN

"A Vietnam Story"

Follow up story to Bill Browns post "A Vietnam Story"... USS Blueridge LCC-19 I was in the control center in the radio room at that time of the attack. My orders were to keep in contact with the communications center on Guam during our attack on the shore battery. I heard and felt our 5 inch guns shelling the position and thought to myself, I hope everyone does their job. Capt. Carol was the best skipper a sailor could have and we had a top notch gun crew. Rm3 Vertin.

Marc Vertin
Newburgh, IN

Once Upon A Military Wife

I come here everyday to give a veteran a meal and have purchased from the store. I have PTSD not from going to war but from severe abuse. I know all about the loneliness, flashbacks that are so vivid that you can even smell, feel, and taste the things from your traumatic experience that happened years ago. I received therapy off base as a dependent stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I went to therapy every week for a long time working on the nightmares, panic attacks, anxieties and suicidal thoughts. That is how I found counselling I called a crisis lifeline. I am not cured but I live a much better quality of life. I think Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing helped the fastest, EMDR actually came from treatments that were pioneered from studies at the VA, Many therapist either utilize this treatment or know of a therapist they could recommend. It is not a cure all I had also been in extensive therapy and group therapy. Group therapy helps you not to feel like an island. I always opened my heart and home to the soldiers that worked with my husband I was their second "MOM", That mothering is still strong in me. I so want to be there for you soldiers! Know that I am out here praying for you, even though a childhood of severe abuse doesn't even touch the problems , flashbacks, and panic/anxiety of a Veteran. But know there is hope. Call the National Suicide Lifeline before you make any permanent decisions. They have special trained people to deal with these troubles and symptoms of PTSD. You are not alone. I pray for you every night. I pray that you get help for PTSD.. Think of this as the war to get your life back!

Julie Pitts
Moulton, AL

Dear Santa

It's not yet Christmas, but I wrote this during the first Gulf War and I am sorry it is still appropriate. I am a Vietnam era veteran.

Dear Santa

As children we would write to you,

Toys and games filled every list.

We promised all year we'd been good,

To be sure we'd not be missed.

But Santa, oh how thing have changed,

Now that all those years have passed.

Fears of war invade our dreams,

Has the apocalypse lot been cast?

All those eyes, once innocent and bright,

Now gaze across burning sand,

Will tomorrow pass just as today,

Or bring death in a foreign land?

So Santa, this letter has just one wish,

Which is shared by all around,

Let peace blanket all those souls,

And bring them home soon, safe and sound.

Linda E Geser
Troy, NY

My Hero.

This is the story of a man, who has shown his valor and lives on today. His name is Steven Moroni Robert Lukenbach. He is my eldest brother. He is now 24 years old, turning 25 next year. Steven joined the United States Marine Corps at 17 years old, immediately after graduating high school. He was married (but I won't get into that). He graduated basic training and then deployed to Afghanistan shortly thereafter, leaving behind his twin sons and his wife at the time. He was deployed for 10 months, not the longest time, but still a hefty amount of time. Every night I would sit awake, crying and wondering where he was at, what he was doing, how he was doing. It scared the bloody hell out of me. When I'd get on the computer, I and the rest of my family would check Skype to see if he was available for chat. Some stories of his time over seas honestly scares me. But I love him and I owe him a salute and a hug, every time I see him. Which is not often.

Today he fights a long battle of PTSD, but he has a great support system of his wife, his family and his family. His first wife divorced him after well being disloyal to him (in our family, that's a giant crime and you'll start blood feuds with us for so much as checking out someone else if you are married). I love my brother and all that he has done. For all you veterans out there, stay strong. No one gets left behind.

Aaron Lukenbach
Salt Lake City, UT

My Welcome Committee at San Francisco Intl Arpt Was the Hare Krishna And A Drug Dealer

I’ll never forget my trip home. I was lucky enough to fly back with a buddy of mine name Casey S. We were both pretty excited about coming home but anxious and apprehensive about what to expect. We landed at San Francisco International Airport. After getting our baggage, our welcoming party were a group of Hare Krishna’s asking us for donation. The second group was a drug dealer asking us if we wanted to buy a “lid” (bag of marijuana). We asked the guy how he knew that we might be interested. His response was “Man, we can spot you guys coming back from Nam a mile away!”. Needless to say, we bought a bag, rented a car and headed for the nearest motel and smoked until we settled down and accept reality that there was not going to be any “Johnny Comes Marching Home” welcome back.

The other horrible experience was our drive to Texas. We met so many animosity along the way. Getting bad looks in restaurants and where ever we stopped by, people trying to run us off the road, etc. Our looks of short hair really gave us away. I finally got my first “Welcome Back” parade at the Vietnam Veteran Welcome Back parade at Los Angeles, California back in 1987. On the way home, around 1 and half hour away, that’s when the trigger of PTSD kicked in, after hiding it for 17 years.

Honolulu, HI
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