A reader comments : “I have serious trepidations about electing a president who was a POW for 5 yrs and remained in solitary confinement for two of those five. I have total respect for the service and valor of John McCain, but I donâ€™t believe you can endure this type of treatment and come out unscathed psychologically. He is famously short-tempered and impulsive. This is not a quality that I want in someone who has substantial control over the free world. I am underwhelmed by the other candidates, but Iâ€™ve seen the psychopathology that developed in many of our veterans who served in Vietnam and were not POWs and shudder to think about what McCain has to do in order to get to sleep at night.“
The reader, along with many other people, is completely buying into the popular misconceptions about Viet Nam veterans. I, too, have worked at the VA with Viet Nam veterans and you know what? When you question many of these creepy guys about their military service, most of them are so full of shit…and I mean totally full of it…that there is no way possible they were anywhere close to combat. And I doubt some of them even went to Viet Nam. I don’t expect you to know how to tell a plausible war story from a bogus one but I assure you that I have a pretty good idea who is genuine and who is blowing smoke up my ass.
“Where did you go to boot camp?” for example, is a basic kind of question to ask an alleged former Marine who can vividly recall every detail of his super-secret black-ops missions but cannot come up with the name of the base where he trained (Hint: there are only two places a Marine of the post-Korean War era could have gone to basic training) or anything about his unit or specialty that makes sense.
The trouble is that the VA does a very poor job of checking service records. They are not easily accessible and it takes time, money, and staff to interpret them. I guarantee that if I selected any ten frazzled Viet Nam era PTSD patients whose lives have been a shambles since the ‘Nam and scrutinized their record, five of them would have never seen any combat and two or three would probably have never even been overseas or even in the military. You see, to verify combat experience, you have to compare their story to their service record and the patient’s unit’s “Unit Diary,” something that’s impossible to do on a routine basis. A DD214 has very little information on it and people are taken at their word which would be a mistake.
You need to understand the concept of “tooth and tail.” In Viet Nam as in most wars, eighty to ninety percent of those involved were in support positions and the majority of them saw no action at all. Imagine the vast number of sailors, aircraft mechanics, clerks, cooks, radio repairmen, truck drivers, and other specialists required to support one infantryman on the ground. I’m not putting down anybody, you understand, because logistics and support wins wars but for every infantryman, combat engineer, artilleryman or tanker shooting at the enemy, the “teeth”, there is a long, long logistical “tail.” Being anywhere in a combat zone, however, qualifies you as a combat veteran for purposes of VA benefits and no distinction is made between serving on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin or sticking a knife into the enemy at Hue City. Therefore it takes almost nothing to convince the VA that your personal problems, problems that you may have had before you enlisted, are the result of stress from your military service. Free VA medical care is no different from any other government benefit. It attracts the usual freeloaders but in this case, since so many of you have no experience whatsoever with the military you let yourself get browbeaten into believing any war story you are told because you hold your manhood cheap whiles anyone speaks who fought on Saint Crispin’s day (so to speak).
The country is full of people exaggerating their POW status, combat experience, or even their military service. I suggest you read “Stolen Valor,” a book that exposes the depth of the scam in which many of you so intently believe. For my part, I know many Viet Nam combat veterans who are the “real deal” and although their experiences have profoundly changed them, they are not the psychotic druggies that Hollywood and the left love to portray. There is most certainly a disorder known as PTSD and many of our combat veterans suffer from it. But guys who are “put together” well enough to to be Navy Fighter pilots, Rangers, SEALS, Special Forces, Marine Infantryman (the blue collar of the military elite), and other hard-chargers that the drugged-out homeless guys pretend to have been do not turn psychotic. Rather, they struggle with their memories but otherwise live fairly normal lives where they are part of the vast yet unseen foundation of sturdy citizens upon whom is supported the whole circus of dependency that grabs all the headlines.
My point is that Mr. McCain is impulsive and short-tempered, not necessarily bad qualities if channeled properly, because he was a Naval aviator, the kind of guy who could fly an A4 Skyhawk in the teeth of Migs and SAM batteries. He is the real deal and if you prefer an anti-American fuck like Mr. Obama, a guy who won’t wear a flag pin because it makes his anti-American leftist cronies uncomfortable and who has never done a decent thing in his entire self-centered life that didn’t benefit Obama…well…what can I say?