I was one of the lucky ones
A few days ago, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of my safe return home from Vietnam. I was an Army captain who flew Cobra gunships, and I am lucky to have survived when so many of my fellow helicopter crewmen did not. Ten percent of the names of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are helicopter crew members, even though we represented only 2 percent of the war effort. Unquestionably, the Vietnam War was better known as the “Helicopter War.”
We should never forget the 58,276 names of people inscribed for eternity on this dark polished marble wall. No war memorial has ever come closer to perfectly epitomizing the anguish of the sacrifices that were made by those young men and women.
We were sons and daughters of the Greatest Generation and like our parents, we served and sacrificed for a country that completely failed to fully acknowledge our patriotism, bravery and sacrifice. A little known fact is that almost 70 percent of those who served in Vietnam were, in fact, volunteers and not drafted. One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam became a casualty, either killed or wounded. We should always remember those who served in that war and their sacrifice on the behalf of all America.
Robert Segers, Brandon
A lifeline for caregivers
Palliative and hospice care
There comes a time in many of our lives when we either take or are given the responsibility of caring for a seriously or terminally ill family member. It is a hard job and can be made harder by our confusing and fragmented health-care system. Fortunately, there is a lifeline for caregivers and their patients in the form of palliative care and hospice care. In both cases, interdisciplinary teams assist caregivers in assessing the needs of the patient, building a care plan and supporting the caregiver in carrying out the patient’s wishes. They also offer respite and support in the form of social workers, chaplains, and volunteers. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of trained specialists in hospice and palliative care, and so many patients and caregivers may not be able to access these services when needed. Leading health-care organizations are championing the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, HR 647/S 2080, which will provide incentives and support specialized training in hospice and palliative care. This is a bipartisan, bicameral and noncontroversial bill.
Christopher Benjamin, St. Petersburg
A magical state of denial
Apocalypse ... now | Column, Sept. 11
Walking the streets of Davis Island, I am painfully aware the Bahamian people faced a gargantuan hurricane that was never dreamed of when I came to Florida 60 years ago. We are not exempt. How do we not prepare for our very real now governed by climate collapse? In Tampa, the refrain is passed from old to young: “A big one has never come up Tampa Bay” and left unsaid, “and it never will.” It encourages us to think that we will survive and life will go back to “normal.”
The power of this magical thinking holds us in this place called home. It is fueled by the fantasy that someone will come to help. Our certainty is fed in Tampa by the continued presence of MacDill Air Force Base, which lies at the end of a low lying peninsula jutting out into Tampa Bay along the shipping channel that will become the watery highway for the big one when it arrives. Our magical thinking is fed each time we have a near miss, so very near, as was Hurricane Irma. It helps us move on quickly from the panic, the uncertainty of whether to evacuate, the months of clean-up and offers healing and comfort that comes with honing our skills of repression and denial.
We have sold the family home of 35 years, no longer own property in Florida, rent a home and try to live with the grief of facing the catastrophic changes to be brought by climate collapse. The tragic fact that we are not exempt, coupled with our incredible allegiance to insurance by magical thinking, ensures untold levels of suffering that could be averted or at least prepared for. Our indulgence in magical thinking ill serves the generations who must live in the time of climate collapse.
Karen Putney, Tampa
People, not robots
For the very lonely, robots brighten lives | Sept. 8
What is wrong with us? Allowing a robot to take the place of human interaction with the lonely elderly? I understand that families sometimes live far away. But we’re all a part of the human family. I’m betting that everyone reading this letter is aware of an elderly neighbor living alone somewhere in the neighborhood. Go say hello. Give them a few minutes of your time and your life. Just let them know that they’re not alone and forgotten. Are we so selfish and self-absorbed that we can’t make a tiny space for a fellow human being?
Lenah Robles, Seminole
Don’t hang up this cap
Loser of the week | The Buzz, Sept. 8
I was surprised to see that Sen. Rick Scott’s Navy cap was the loser of the week and that he should hang it up. I see former Navy members every day wearing caps from their days in service. I would never tell a former service member to “hang it up.”
Mark Miller, Apollo Beach
Above the crew’s pay grade
Air Force reviews hotel options | Sept. 11
I am a retired Air Force pilot, having flown C-130s and C-5s for 21 years. The article states that “the Air Force is reviewing how crews on international travel choose airports and hotels.” I can assure you that the aircrew has no input on the mission itinerary. The mission is planned well above their level, coordinated to ensure appropriate airfield notifications are accomplished, diplomatic clearances obtained, etc. The pilots would only change the itinerary due to mechanical or weather problems. It is not a crew option to decide to remain overnight at the Trump golf resort’s contracted Prestwick airport.
John Inglis, Palm Harbor
The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.