As an author, I’m always trying to come up with new material. While I’m proud to have released three books from the series, We Were Soldiers Too (with more on the way) I am equally proud to have taken some time to write something totally different. They Walk Alone will be released March 13 and follows the tragic journey of dementia. If you’re interested in a FREE copy, find details below or by visiting this Facebook events page.
When World War II ended, Europe was left in a very fragile condition. Europeans had just survived a war that saw their countries defeated and taken over by Hitler and his Nazi regime. The whole continent was in shambles from the brutality of the war that finally defeated him. To make matter worse, Hitler had attacked the east and brought Stalin and the USSR into the war. Fighting a two-front war may have played a big part in Hitler’s fall, but in his zeal he had succeeded in putting the Soviets, and communism, on the winning side of the war.
President Reagan began pushing the envelope with the Soviet Union immediately after his first inauguration. In March 1981, he authorized the US Navy to conduct large scale naval exercises in areas that had been off limits to navy ships in the past. The exercise took navy ships in waters adjacent to Soviet territories. Naval ships of the US Pacific Fleet maneuvered within range of the Soviet radar detection systems without setting them off. Planes flying classified missions inland to simulate attacking Soviet targets. These missions allowed the aircraft to practice flying different evasive tactics. More importantly, these exercises allowed the military to test the Soviet defense systems. Flight routes were flown to test and avoid detection by Soviet radars and ground-to-air defense systems. The first year of the exercises caught the Soviet Union completely off-guard.
The Soviets would enact RYAN that May. Was Ryan enacted because of the March exercise? Probably. Their fear of President Reagan was the main reason. The boldness of the exercise only added to their building anxiety towards the United States. More importantly, the boldness of the exercise planted the seeds of concern with them. This makes it easier to understand why they thought Reagan was preparing the military for a strike against them.
The navy conducted a similar second exercise in 1983. Our ships and aircraft were able to maneuver undetected close to key Soviet targets. Seeing our ships and planes all over the horizon but not on their radars was certainly cause for concern for them. This alone would have increased their fear that Reagan the cowboy was preparing to invade them. The exercise took ships near the northern Kola Peninsula and eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. Many of their vulnerabilities were discovered during this exercise.
Both massive naval exercises contributed to the building tension inside the Kremlin. A tension that was leading the world closer and closer towards nuclear war in 1983.
Coming Soon: We Were Soldiers Too: 1983 – The Year the Cold War Almost Went Nuclear
Ever wonder why veterans are fed up with the ineptitude of the Veterans Administration? Nobody wants to address the elephant in the room that plays a big part in veteran suicides. (22 a day) It takes years to get the proper disability benefits.
My heart breaks for the veterans coming home from duties overseas and the War on Terror, especially the combat arms veterans. These jobs don’t exactly transfer over to the civilian world so many veterans struggle to make ends meet while they wait on an inept VA to do what’s right and take care of them.
They boast the ability to process veterans claims for disabilities within 6 months. What the public doesn’t know is they first level of most claims are denied. This forces veterans to file an appeal which takes up to 2 years (if they’re lucky.) At this stage, they at least get someone more competent to review their claim, but not always.
An attorney can be hired once the claim is denied. This makes sense if lots of disabilities are being claimed. Attorneys only get paid if they win the appeal for the veteran. Unfortunately, this cost the veteran 20-33-1/2% of the back pay the government pays them for screwing up the claim in the first place.
The other problem is for Cold War veteran’s disability claims. Many of their injuries weren’t documented in their medical records while on active duty. This is especially true for veterans who served before the War on Terror began. Unless it was broken or required stitches, soldiers didn’t go on sick call to see a medic. “No pain, no gain” was the mantra in the military. Missing morning PT would quickly get your chain of command to come down on you. Soldiers participated with hang-overs, twisted ankles, sleep deprived, and on and on. They ran on roads in flat soled tennis shoes or combat boots. Morning PT, forced road marches in full combat gear, deployments, and training exercises all were designed to push soldiers to their limits. They had no choice but to push through the pain, the muscle failure, and the sleep deprivation.
Soldiers like myself that got out after a few enlistments didn’t realize the damage right away. Plus, we were out of the military but the military wasn’t out of us. It never will be. Ten years later and it hurts to get up in the morning. Going up and down stairs is something to avoid. Eventually joints need to be cleaned out arthroscopically. Later in life joints will likely need replaced. People can’t run miles and miles on paved roads for years without a price. People can’t walk up and down mountains and valleys over rough terrain for years without a price.
Unfortunately for these millions of veterans, none of this will be documented in their military medical records. The military discouraged them from going on sick call. They went even further by ridiculing those who did as examples. And they preached every day the need to work and push through the pain.
The solution for this dilemma is simple but will never to happen. The top brass at the Veterans Administration need to acknowledge the lifestyle of veterans who served in the Cold War. They need to understand that Cold War veteran’s medical records aren’t going to paint a true picture of the injuries they incurred during their service.
Back to the problem of the inept first level raters for disability claims. The overall solution to this is simple, get better qualified people making the initial decisions on the claims. Remove pressure for completing the process faster so raters can take the necessary time to completely review the veteran’s medical records. The incompetency at this level is mind boggling.
I had an initial claim submitted to increase some ratings and add a few others from my recent issues with my legs and such. I just got the letter denying my claim. The idiots used somebody else’s records to make a decision on my claim. This is what happens when the government doesn’t care about its veterans and doesn’t train these people better.
The sad part is this didn’t surprise me. I filed a claim on 1/30/2013 to add my right arthritic knee as a secondary disability from walking on a painful right ankle and a painful left knee. I also claimed my damaged left quad muscle with atrophy as a secondary injury that was damaged during a lateral release surgery on my left knee. They denied my claim. The reviewer copied and pasted the notes from the C&P exam word for word without looking at any of my submitted evidence. I had a civilian doctor write letters supporting both these issues in my original claim.
I filed a Notice of Disagreement on 4/22/2014. Rather than wait on the lengthy appeal I chose to have a Division Review Officer reevaluate my claim in house. My hope was the DRO would see the obvious mistakes made by the reviewer and approve my claims. This process was only supposed to take 6-9 months at the time as opposed to the 2 years for an appeal decision
I’m still waiting on a decision from the DRO on this one. The Indianapolis office says DRO decisions typically average 309 days on a decision. They have given the same average timeframe for the last eighteen months. The idiots in Indianapolis must think averages don’t ever change.
In closing, here is the denial of my recent claim. Read my notes for each line. You just can’t make stuff like this up.
In making our decision, we considered:
VA 21-4502 Application for Automobile or Other Conveyance and Adaptive Equipment Under 38 U.S.C. 390i-3904, received on October 14, 2016
**I never requested Adaptive Equipment
Not S/C for heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, received on October 14, 2016
**I have never had heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
VA 21-526EZ, Fully Developed Claim (Compensation), received on October 14, 2016
**I never filed any FDC paperwork
EXAM – DBQ GENERAL MEDICAL GULF WAR – 596 – Lexington VAMC REQUEST, received on November 09, 2016
**I never requested, nor received, a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. I did not serve in either Gulf War. I have never been to the Veteran’s Administrations Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. I go to Roudebush VA Hospital in Indianapolis and the VA Clinic in Bloomington, Indiana
38 U.S.C. 5103 NOTICE RESPONSE, received on October 24, 2016
**I never filed anything on 10/24/2016
ERRA Tool , received on November 09, 2016
**I have no idea what this ERRA Tool is nor does my documents submitted show anything on this date either
VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application For Increased Compensation Based On Unemployability, received October 14, 2016
**My file shows nothing uploaded on this date
Capri/ 10/12/16-12/ 12/16, received on December 12, 2016
**My file shows nothing uploaded on this date and I have no idea what Capri means
Medical Treatment Record – Non-Government Facility, received on December 21, 2016 CAPRI Clinical Documentation – 596 – Lexington VAMC – 09-09-2016 – 11-09-2016, received on November 09, 2016 ssi inquiery share, received on January 12, 2017
**Again, I have never been to the Lexington VAMC
Major historical events occasionally find a way of unfolding without warning. Occasionally, unsuspecting people find themselves thrown into historical events. This was the case for Jerry Myers. Jerry was an army cook at Wiesbaden Air Base in West Germany in 1981.
Hundreds of Iranian students overran the United States embassy in Iran November 4, 1979. The incident was to protest the United States allowing the former Shah of Iran to come to the US for medical treatments. The taking of the embassy led to fifty-four Americans being held hostage by Iranian militants. One hostage would be released in July 1980 for health reasons. The remaining fifty-three hostage would remain in captivity where they were abused and beaten regularly for four hundred and forty-four days. The hostages were released on January 20, 1981. The date of their release coincided with the day President Reagan was sworn in as the fortieth President of the United States.
That night in Germany, the alert sirens at Wiesbaden Air Base went off. Dressed in full combat gear, Jerry was issued live rounds and bused to the campus of the nearby US Air Force hospital. He disembarked the bus and was assigned a position on perimeter guard of the hospital parking lot. Jerry and his unit secured the parking lot and stood guard for a couple of hours with no idea what they were guarding. Huge flood lights were set up and turned on that were so bright it no longer looked like nighttime.
It wasn’t long after the lights were turned on that several blue US Air Force buses pulled into the parking lot. The windows were all covered so Jerry couldn’t see who was in the busses. The gates to the parking lot were closed once the last bus entered the parking lot. Jerry will never forget the sobs coming from the people as they left the buses and entered the hospital. It wasn’t long before Jerry learned it was the American hostages from Iran that were on those buses. They had been sent to this hospital to be treated for all the injuries and health issues they incurred during their captivity.
So how did Jerry end up on security detail for this major historical event? Purely by happenstance. The soldiers on base who normally would have been responsible for this security were away. The entire base was out on a training mission when the hostages were released. There wasn’t any notice of their release which didn’t leave much time for preparation for them.
Jerry Meyers might have been a cook but he was a soldier first. Circumstances and events out of his control would sweep him into a very important moment in history. He would find himself on security for the arrival of fifty-three men as they realized their first taste of freedom. A big moment for sure. But more importantly, he witnessed the first domino fall from President Reagan’s time as Commander in Chief. The first of many dominoes that would fall as the United States returned as a world power.