My big brother Bob enlisted at 17 and served our country

in Southeast Asia at the tail end of Vietnam.

Eagerly walking in his shadow, I admired him as tall, broad shouldered, outgoing and bright.   Every kid in the neighborhood admired his athleticism, leadership, compassion, and how he was always there for the little guy.  Especially me.  He was always upbeat, fearless and ready for adventure.

Bob left home like most of our heroes:  Eager, patriotic and determined. He spent two honorable tours in combat as a teenager, then a young man, before becoming morbidly sick with malaria, typhoid, and other unknown illnesses due to chemical exposure.  Slipping into a coma, our family was advised that he was not expected to survive.  I remember mom hysterical, crying, shaking, barely able to hold the phone.

Through prayer, luck, and dedicated medical staff, Bob came out of his coma, and immediately removed his yet undated toe tag. He was eventually shipped home weighing only 130 pounds, his yellow skin hanging off his 6′ skeleton. It was hideous.

Bob returned, but the brother we knew was gone, replaced by a shell of a man.

Instead of reveling in his shadow, he now was the shadow.

It took my brother many years to recover, and he has had to endure an entire lifetime of life-threatening physical maladies and multiple system failures from his exposure to Agent Orange, disease, and the psychological ravages of combat.  Until recently, we as a family cannot remember a time that Bob hasn’t been sick or suffering physically or emotionally since his service to our country over four decades ago.

His duty assignment today is battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as he still endures the psychological scars of kills and destruction. Bob has never given up, he was never a quitter.  He’s at peace now and thankfully is blessed with the love of a good woman.

But, like many vets, my brother struggled to fully integrate into a society that spit on him, that takes our freedoms for granted.  He faces a society that still dismisses the challenges he and other veterans face each and every day, while half the population whines and feigns outrage over everything from school prayer to words that hurt their feelings.   Bob, like many of our heroes, struggles with an inefficient government-run healthcare system that has proven deadly, drowns in bureaucracy and regulation, while it laboriously rations out benefits, medical treatments and procedures, as if he was begging for something unearned.

Sometimes we lose our heroes in one tragic moment.

Other times we lose them slowly and tortuously over time.

Let us never forget their sacrifice.

2 replies
  1. Dale snipes
    Dale snipes says:

    That was really heartfelt and true in today society unfortunately our leader of our country should do something for all the men and women that Fight for our freedom that we have today I wish you many blessings Marty in your venture please keep me posted I’d love to help if I could! Be safe out there my friend

  2. Linda Johnson
    Linda Johnson says:

    My heart aches when seeing our Veterans not being properly appreciated/honored and cared for. They and their families sacrificed from their service. I wonder? how many military personnel realized the hardships they’d begin to endure just from the required vaccines/immunizations. They’re so toxic.
    Thank you for your family’s sacrifice and your brother’s service. As a Certified Holistic Health Coach who has helped people with the wonderfully pure & powerfully supportive essential oils’ gift of ¹AROMATIC properties (that the olfactory – amygdala – limbic system all love utilizing for emotions), the ²TOPICAL benefits (quick, powerfully supportive for pain, nervous system, digestive system, circulatory system, etc.) & ³INTERNAL benefits if the right ones are selected… I love especially helping our Veterans and their families! Cuz nobody needs to be suffering from pills side effects.

    LMK if I can help you,
    Linda Johnson


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