40 percent

my dad finally got his disability from the VA for vietnam. he will now recieve 40% of the benefits owed to him.

this after 20+ years of struggle.

i've lived my entire life with the ghost of that war. many of us have...whether it was a dad, a favorite uncle, maybe a brother or sister.

for us 20-somethings, our movies started to reflect it--dead presidents, jason's lyric, ...more than a few of the movies in the 90s dealt with the consequences 'nam had on the children of vets.

i had an acquaintance in college whose father went thru some of the same things mine did....while we got along generally, that was the topic we first bonded over. it was the first time i'd met someone who understood.

daddy talks about the lighter side of things...the bbq featuring their pet pig, the 40 days and 40 nights of rain, that kind of thing. i used to love going thru the old photo albums and seeing the golden buddhas in the temples and the weird, sepia landscapes. and, of course, daddy sitting around with a cigar in his mouth, looking impossibly young.

but i know there are many other things he doesn't talk about...the things that took the light out of his eyes.

my mother always told me he came back a shell of himself, nothing like the guy who'd left home.

and even tho i didn't see the early effects, i still knew not to wake him up too fast...not to sneak up on him, ever...not to sneak into the house too quietly. i watched a lot of movies and skimmed more than a few books trying to fill in the blanks.

i've always counted myself fortunate that he came back in much better shape than most, but that's still little consolation to loved ones and children who grow up with ghosts.

there is no way a check's gonna make up for that. i don't care if it was 100%. but he fought long & hard for every single dime, and i'm proud of him for it.

at every anti-war rally i've been to, i've sought out the veterans (especially the vietnam ones) and shaken a hand or just simply said, "my father is one of you, and that's why i'm here today."

when people ask why i'm against war, i'll go thru some facts, but i make it a point to tell them, "i would never want anyone's daddy to go thru what mine did."

i'll never be able to support this country going into even a justified conflict while knowing they're just going to use soldiers as guinea pigs then give 'em the shaft once they get home.

but i'll take this small victory. 'cause every little bit helps.

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