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In War, It Is The Innocent Who Suffer
By Melissa Maddox
I spent all afternoon reading my copy of The Veteran. I came to the article, McNamara's Mistake by Hamilton Gregory. (Fall 2017)
As I read, I came to the phrase "McNamara's Morons". My eyes filled with tears. My hands were shaking so bad that I put the paper down. If I'd been standing, I know that I would have fallen.
I remember years ago my dad told me that when he was in Vietnam, there were a couple of men in his unit that had IQ below 75.
I thought that it had to be a mistake, that those men were there by accident.
My son was in LD classes all of his life. When he turned 17, recruiters called the house all the time. I'd cuss them as though they weren't human.
After graduation my son couldn't find a decent job. So without telling me he went to a National Guard recruiter and signed up.
When I found out, I fell apart. Everyone around me knew, but they were afraid to tell me.
I called the governor, senators. I wrote letters. I called the National Guard. They had some high-ranking lady call me back. She said, "Your son will go to Afghanistan with his unit when it deploys."
I didn't give up. I told my son that we would go to Canada and live there. Inevitably, all I did was push my son away.
Through bootcamp, if it hadn't been for the help of the other soldiers, he wouldn't have made it.
He wasn't making enough money so he went and signed up with the Army. I knew that this would be our out. I knew that the Army wouldn't take him. They not only took him, he was in Germany a few weeks later to train, then Iraq.
He was told to sleep during the day and drive a truck at night.
Many times, when they were in the convoys at night there would be explosions from IED's. He went and spoke to his company commander and told him that he was having a hard time due to his Asperger Syndrome. His commander told him to keep his mouth shut. He was bullied and ostracized by the men in his unit. He came home on leave, got into trouble, and was incarcerated. We went through years of the court system. He wound up with a felony on his record and a dishonorable discharge.
5,478 human beings did not come home from Vietnam. My son came home Iraq. And his discharge was changed from dishonorable to a General discharge.
After my son in law's suicide, (Iraq Vet) I met Barry Romo, truly one of the best moments of my life.He told me about his brother, friend and nephew, Bobby.
It still devastated me when I read it in The Veteran, yesterday. They knew that Bobby should not have been in Vietnam, they knew that my son should not have been in Iraq. How many Bobby's and Landon's are there?
I would like for this article to be mandatory reading. We don't matter, except to each other. All war is wrong. It is the innocent that suffer. But if you knowingly send young men and women to war who are incapable of defending themselves, your sentence should be death.
I come to VVAW to say thank you. You're all still saving lives.
I felt lost and alone before. I now feel like I have a family.
Melissa Maddox is the daughter and niece of Vietnam Vets. Sister of two Airmen. Mother and Mother in law of Iraq Vets. I know what, "Love the Warrior, Hate the war, means."