The Selective Service System. Draft numbers. Nightly Film of bullets flying, bombs bursting, injured and bloody soldiers. Body counts. Agent Orange. Defoliation. PTSD. Emotional Emptiness. Guilt. Peace Marches. Rejection.
These are terms from the Vietnam vocabulary.
I was 17 years old in 1967. I was one of the lucky ones. A high draft number. The chance to graduate high school and attend college.
But the memories are seared into my soul. The nightly mayhem on TV. The loss of a classmate. The distrust of government. The violent confrontations in America. The shooting at Kent State. The lifetime pain of a childhood friend who served.
All of these thoughts. All of these emotions. They came rushing back as I watched Ken Burn's documentary on the Vietnam war. Like I said, I was one of the lucky ones. My life continued uninterrupted. I finished college with my high draft number and I was able to go directly to law school.
So as I sat there revisiting the mayhem of Vietnam, I thought to myself, "How is this film going to impact the soldiers - my peers - who actually lived through the nightmare?"
Is it no wonder that many Vietnam Vets suffer from PTSD? And, for the many soldiers who were able to keep their emotions bottled up for 50 years and who visualized the killing all over again during the documentary? And who could hear - all over again - the words of condemnation, the name calling, and the rejection they experienced? What about them?
Our law firm proudly represents disabled veterans. We hear the pain and the anger every day. We hear the frustration they experience - filing for service-connected medical problems arising out of their tour of duty in Vietnam and being rejected by the Veterans Administration, over and over.
My son, Michael, is the advocate for service-connected claims in our law office. Michael is 35 years of age. When a veteran talks about Vietnam, 1969, Michael can only imagine what they went through.
We are so delighted with Michael's tenaciousness when it comes time to put together a strong case to obtain monthly benefits for the Vietnam Veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange, or the noxious, carcinogenic substances flowing from a burn pit, or a blood disorder after spending time at basic training at Camp Lejeune.
We are very proud of the fact that QuatriniRafferty is one of only several law firms in Western Pennsylvania which fights for service-connected disability benefits for Veterans of all wars.
As one of the fortunate teenagers of that era, it is comforting, to me, to know that our law firm is helping heal some of the emotional and physical scars from the Vietnam era.