WASHINGTON - Saint Silver is considered a disabled veteran. Post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep apnea, and diabetes related to Agent Orange exposure have affected him since he served in Vietnam. But he doesn't look back in anger. He looks back with appreciation for the service.
In fact, he said, serving in the Army was the best thing that happened to him."Being in Vietnam, you can't forget it. It's something that stays with you for the rest of your life, Silver said. "Being a veteran is the best thing that happened to me. He's grateful that he was able to serve his country, he said. "I think that every young man, when he turns 18, should be obligated to serve the country, he said. "I think we'd have less crime, less killing one-on-one. The military gives you some stability, and you learn to grow up and be a man. The Henderson, N.C., resident said serving in the Army helped to shape him as an adult, and his service abroad taught him to appreciate the things some take for granted in the United States. "Once you get back home, you realize how much you love our country, and how much freedom you have in a democracy versus communism over there, where you're told what to do and when to do it, Silver said. Silver served as a clerk in the Army from 1968 to 1971, though he said he never worked in his specialty. Instead, he was a utility supervisor, advising Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta, where he never thought he'd end up. "They told me I passed the physical in January, and I'd be drafted the next month, Silver said. "So I volunteered, thinking I'd miss Vietnam. But right after [specialty training], I went straight over to Vietnam. Vietnam was a good cause, Silver said, and the lessons learned there should be kept in mind when considering drawdowns and missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he believes the United States pulled out of Vietnam too soon, resulting in continued problems for the Vietnamese people. "If we do like we did in Vietnam, leaving before the job is finished, other countries will think they can't depend on us, he said. "If you consider yourself an ally of another country, you should be able to stay and help them through what they're going through before you leave. Americans never really lost the war over there. It was the counterparts that lost. We didn't lose. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shouldn't deter people considering military service today, Silver said. The benefits, both tangible and invisible, outweigh the risks of combat, he added. "Once I got out, I wish I had stayed in, he said. "Where can you go and get 30 vacation days a year? You get hospitalization, and you don't have to worry about it. Plus, it makes you grow up. You get a skill. After 20 years you can retire to another job. It has so many opportunities, and positives, in spite of the war. All young people don't think that way, he acknowledged. "But as you get older, you realize all of the things you missed by not staying in, he added. ("Veterans' Reflections is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.) Nov. 20, 2010: By Ian Graham- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON - Like a lot of his fellow servicemembers in the 1960s, Arlen Bliefernicht didn't choose to join the Army. The DeForest, Wis., resident didn't know what to expect when he finished basic training and shipped to Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division.
"For the first six months I was in Vietnam, it was like a Boy Scout outing, he said. "It was very casual, and we didn't see a lot of action. But we didn't see what was coming. The last six months of his tour, following the Tet offensive in January 1968, were less casual, to say the least. "It wasn't nonstop action, but there was a lot of it, he said. "Up to that point, we suffered very few casualties, but after Tet it was a rollercoaster. At one point, Bliefernicht's unit ran into a scene straight out of the movie "Full Metal Jacket. In Kantum City, the troops got caught up in the "fog of war, attacking hills where the North Vietnamese army had bunkered, not knowing for sure if the attacks were coming on a small scale or were part of a larger offensive. It was there that they had their first soldier killed in action. After taking one hill, Bliefernicht said, he realized how much trouble his unit was about to encounter. "One time we were on this hill, we could actually see the North Vietnamese coming up the valley toward us, he said. "We called in, 'Where's the air strikes? The gunships? The artillery?' They were out. The troops had to hold their positions until the supply chain could catch up to what they needed to fight back. "That was a very shaky feeling, that all of a sudden we were so low on ammunition, Bliefernicht said. But it was the battle of Chu Moor, near the Cambodian border, that really "chewed up his battalion, Bliefernicht said. The entire battalion and a few other companies were involved, he said, and though it isn't known as well historically, the troops who were in Vietnam that year remember it vividly, perhaps more so than the Tet attacks. It was there, Bliefernicht said, that he was wounded for the first time. He got shot, but the injury was relatively small, he said, and he was back on his feet and in the field within a few weeks. "I got a couple of Purple Hearts and a Combat Infantry Badge, he said. "But the biggest medal I earned was getting out alive, and I don't have any disabling injuries from that. Bliefernicht said he visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial here regularly to pay respects to the soldiers who weren't as lucky as he was. It's hard on him, he acknowledged, but he said he has learned to cope in a way similar to visiting deceased friends or family members at a cemetery. "The Battle of Chu Moor is big in [the memorial's] section 53-E, he said. "There are a few names that jump out who are special to me. It's an emotional impact every time I see it, but I've learned to deal with it. Bliefernicht said he learned a lot coming back from the war and seeing the negative reaction people had toward Vietnam veterans, and that he thinks the American people have learned from that mistake. He had only a few brief instances of people harassing him, he recalled, largely because he avoided places or events that would invite harassment. He's glad he hasn't seen that kind of reaction en masse toward veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan, he added. "We're backing you, he said. "I know the 'Nam vets are going to get out there and make sure you don't get any receptions like we got when we came back. While you're over there, keep your head down and stay lucky. He said the best way people can support veterans is to listen to them, and steer them to proper help for PTSD or other emotional issues that can arise after experiencing combat. "The biggest thing, especially with returning veterans, is to have some understanding of the emotional and mental problems they're going through, and the multiple tours, Bliefernicht said. "So have some understanding; we didn't get that understanding when we came back. They went through some very traumatic experiences - anybody who goes through war does. ("Veterans' Reflections is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.) Nov. 22, 2010: By Ian Graham- Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
SupportOurTroops.Org Upholds the Honor and Dignity of Fallen Soldiers and Families at Military Funerals March 4, 2011- This past Tuesday, March 2, 2011, the Supreme Court in Snyder v. Phelps, et al, 562 U.S. ___ (2011), ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of ne'er-do-wells to visibly and audibly protest in the face of family members at the funerals of their beloved sons and daughters who have recently died in military service to us and our country. "Fortunately," says Martin C. Boire, Chairman of Support Our Troops, Inc." the First Amendment also guarantees we are free to speak in a positive manner at military funerals -- free to show our respect, our love and our gratitude for what has been done for us."
And so through Operation Honor Guard good Americans will be able to guard the honor and dignity of the ceremony in a positive, pleasant, memorable non-confrontational, manner. The moral equation is quite simple, Mr. Boire continued, "these brave men watched out for us and our families, and we will now look out for them and their families. The youths whom a soldier has protected, will now see him safely off." "In honor of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, and all those like him whose sacrifice has been so disrespected, and in support of the valiant battle that his parents fought on behalf of Matthew and his fellows, Support Our Troops® has created Operation Honor Guard™", said Bruce Jonas, Vice President of SupportOurTroops.Org. Put more succinctly, to the guard the honor and dignity of the funeral ceremony, youths whom this soldier has protected, will now help see him safely off in proper and positive manner. In this program, SupportOurTroops.Org will arrange, and if need be fund, the expenses of local high school bands to line the roadside in full uniform and formation, each member with a small American flag on their band hat, softly playing wonderful traditional American songs as the family arrives for the funeral, as well as during the proceedings and the departure. SupportOurTroops.Org will also arrange for the necessary permits and all necessary instructions for the band. Just as these fallen soldiers have sacrificed to guard and protect us and our families, awesome American youths with the wisdom to appreciate that can now under the auspices of SupportOurTroops.Org stand in the gap to honor and guard the dignity of the funeral ceremony by protecting the family from interruption and pain, while honoring the memory of the lost soldier. This is especially important due to the undesirables who, acting for their own personal gain, have shamelessly and selfishly sought to intrude upon a painfully private and tender moment meant only for family and friends. Operation Honor Guard™ is meant to insulate the family, to whom America owes so much for what they have given, from any undue and unwarranted negative distractions caused by unwelcome visitors during such a personal moment. As Mr. Boire puts it, "They don't need a confrontation. They don't need a circus. They need the positive support like this will afford." It assures that what these families mostly see, and in the background softly hear throughout the ceremony, are Americans who appreciate and respect them and their lost loved one. They will recall positive images, and positive pleasant songs such as God Bless America, The National Anthem, America the Beautiful, Battle Hymn of the Republic, This Land is Your Land, and other appropriate religious, American, and patriotic songs. Operation Honor Guard™ assures that the proper dignity, respect and gratitude are given to fallen American soldiers and their families during military funerals for current active duty troops. About Support Our Troops® SupportOurTroops.Org is the charity through which we Americans bolster the morale and well-being of our active duty troops and their families by highly effective programs that deliver millions of dollars a year in care packs and food treats to the front lines, positive public support at home, kids' camp assistance, and more. Support Our Troops® ships morale and well-being to the troops worldwide. SupportOurTroops.Org, helps citizens and businesses find constructive ways to bolster the morale and well-being of our American troops, delivers more than $7 million per year in care goods and requested items to the front lines, positive support at home, kids' camp assistance and more. It encourages all Americans to find a way to show their support for our soldiers. So get involved! Simply visit SupportOurTroops.Org and choose from a variety of programs and initiatives. You can cut coupons for military families, buy an SOT t-shirt or duffel, switch your car to a specialty SOT license plate, send a thank you letter or help with care packages. There are highly effective programs for everyone so don't delay. Interested Good Americans can stand together with Support Our Troops® by funding programs like this by visiting www.SupportOurTroops.Org and making a donation.
They Support Us, Let's Support Them!™
Collaterals: A link to a high res jpeg of the Operation Honor Guard logo is attached to this release for download, and can be obtained for can obtained by calling or emailing us. Spokespersons: Radio or TV appearance by qualified management of Support Our Troops® can be arranged via the contacts below. Reprint and Redistribution Permission is granted to republish and redistribute this article or excerpts without further permission of Support Our Troops, Inc. Contact: For additional collateral and details: 1-386-767-8882 EST or through the Contact Us button above.
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