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Thu May 2, 2013, 07:05 AM

VA backlog follows veterans to the grave


Sheryl Cornelius, widow of Jack Cornelius, a Vietnam veteran who killed himself in the family home in 2009, visits his grave at a cemetery in Hinton, Okla. With her are her sons, Jim Ray (left) and Ian Ray; Ian's wife, Robyn Ray; and their two children, Abbigael Graice and Eli.

VA backlog follows veterans to the grave
Aaron Glantz
May 01, 2013

Jack Cornelius sat in a wingback chair in his living room in the small town of Hinton, Okla., pointed a .22-caliber Sears, Roebuck & Co. rifle at his left temple and pulled the trigger.

When his wife, Hinton Mayor Sheryl Ann Cornelius, arrived home that evening, he was slumped in his chair, still clutching the gun.

Forty years after serving during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Jack remained tortured by the war. In the years before his death, the 61-year-old U.S. Army veteran downed prodigious amounts of vodka, drove his truck to random locations and talked of dead bodies floating in the water.

But even though Jack received an honorable discharge and sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder before his suicide in July 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs denied his widow’s request to help pay for his burial and declined to grant the monthly compensation intended for survivors of veterans with deaths linked to military service.

unhappycamper comment: Having had a front row seat for Tet of '68, I somewhat dimly understand what Jack was going thru. Shame on Veterans Affairs.

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Reply VA backlog follows veterans to the grave (Original post)
unhappycamper May 2013 OP
sorefeet May 2013 #1
Victor_c3 May 2013 #2

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 09:06 AM

1. Send your children to war

make them think they are protecting the country. In the mean time the real enemy is in your back yard putting your other child in a prison and stealing your democracy.
The older I get the more I understand that young men are nothing but fodder for the country. Not the rich children only the poor. I could not believe it when my parents were going to let the country send me to Viet Nam. I was so peaceful and young, happy, healthy, yearning for life. Now a bitter old man who realizes he has been used and lied to his entire existence. Your American dream doesn't get to happen.

They don't kill themselves just because of the war but because they have been suckered. We know there was no reason for us to be there except to support capitalism, protecting no one but the rich mans profits. Then being ignored, denied and literally threatened and talked to like a dog by the VA you lose all hope and dignity.

I blame the American people. They are like a stupid cow, just keep a bale of hay(trinkets) in front of them and he's happy and stupid right up to the slaughter house.

I don't blame my brothers and sisters, they fought a courageous battle and in the end their own country killed them. Who said, I found the enemy and they are us. I don't cry for soldiers anymore. I shake my head in shame for a beautiful life wasted or ended in the name of greed but justified in the name of freedom. Fuck you America, you have nothing to be proud of.

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Response to sorefeet (Reply #1)

Fri May 3, 2013, 06:42 AM

2. Well put and I completely understand where you are coming from

It is insidious that the patriotism that is fed to us in our youth is nothing more than a tool to get us to do our government's (i.e. rich special interest) bidding.

I joined the Army in 1997 when I was 17. My parents had to sign a waiver to allow me to attend basic training between my junior and senior year of high school. I grew up watching G.I. Joe and seeing the portrayals of the gulf war in 1991 as just and then our involvement in bringing order to the Balkans as a great application of military force to make the world a better and safer place. I fully believed that we would never see ourselves in a mess like Vietnam in my lifetime.

To make a long story short, I found myself in Iraq as an Infantry Platoon Leader in 2004.

9 years later I'm still stuck in the past. Suicidal ideation to me is more about me just being tired of it all.

The thing with memorials and monuments remembering wars is that they overwhelmingly give people the idea that there is glory to be had in them. We frequently see images of strength used in them which, in my mind, gives people the wrong impression of war. However, I occasionally see a beautiful and moving monument. There is a small Vietnam memorial in Newburgh, NY that I drive by every day to and from work. A tired looking Soldier is leaning against against a wall of names and appears to be crying. If and when people start building monuments for my war in Iraq, I hope that something similar is built. The image of a crying mother holding her dead and mangled son is what I'd like the theme to be.

A memorial depicting Lady Liberty in despair holding a sprawled out dead American Soldier in her lap would be powerful. Instead of holding her torch and book, those items could be strewn to the side with the Soldier's rifle and helmet. Another statue flanking it could be an Iraqi woman holding her dead child in a similar pose.

Much like you said about shaking your head when you hear about more dead Soldiers, I say out loud "fuck that war" every time I pass a war memorial. I would want people to say the same thing every time they pass my memorial. It should be a lesson on why not to fight wars, not another depiction of them as being glorious.

Anyways, I'm getting way off of what I was trying to say.

What you wrote really got to me. It's too bad I'm not nearly as eloquent with my thoughts.

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