Today i want to pay tribute to 2 of my buddies -both Gulf war veterans. I met them after the war,one in the hospital,one online. In 1995 or so, i was in a Gulf war Focused Program at the Tampa VA. It was designed to try to work on all of our symptoms and give us counseling and teach us how to cope with our pain-both mentally and physically. I sat across from one guy and will never forget how angry he was. His name was Chaz Bey. He had served in the Army in Iraq. After the notorious Highway of Death, his unit was tasked to get the "crispy critters" as he called them,out of the Iraqi tanks and vehicles burnt up on the this highway. He was so full of rage so i thought i would get through to him by humor. Well, the first day, we sat around the table and we were each asked to talk about all of our problems from Desert Storm. I decided when they got to me , i was just going to tell everything. I mean, Hey , that's what we were there for , right?
Well, they got to me and i said:"Well, i have had severe bone pain in my legs since i got the 21 vaccines especially the 2.5cc of gammaglobulin in each butt cheek.And, i've got "Saddam's revenge". Well, the doctors looked at me and the other vets looked at me waiting for and explanation. I laughed and said,"Well, you know Montezuma's revenge, well,it's like that,only it's Saddam's revenge." People still didn't get it so i said,"I have had diarrhea all day every day since mid July in Saudi Arabia." Well, you know, diarrhea is something you just don't talk about.
However,that was what made Chaz laugh out loud. He said:"Oh yea, i have got that too. Try working as a cable installer when you keep having to run to Wendy's to use the bathroom all the time. He talked about how many good jobs he had been fired from because of rage. He was full of anger and would go off on rants that sometimes didn't make any sense. Pretty soon, i was the only one talking to him. We would always laugh about our "Saddam's revenge" and we kept in touch for long time after then he just stopped calling and writing online.
My other friend i met online on a chat board. You see, right after the war, there were a few groups online that were available to people who had allkinds of symptoms from Desert Storm. I signed up for some trying to get some help and trying to connect with other vets. Those boards are all gone now but i did meet a guy that always seem to be the outcast. In fact he told me he had been banned from alot of boards. He had some issues as we now say-I guess i would too if i was already in a motorized wheelchair with a bad case of MS and a whole host of other problems.His name was Mike Woods, Air Force. He was active on those boards bringing up all the unusual ideas for what ailed us. I ignored what the others said and we became good chat buddies but through my own illnesses, i havent heard from him and i guess he has gone on to heaven.
Today is not the only time i think of those 2 buddies. Sometimes i will think of them alot during the month,when i have had a hard time getting services at the VA. Last, but not least, i often think of a soldier from the 101st Airborne who was returning home after the cease fire was called. I remember he came up to the desk at the MAC Terminal where i worked to register for a flight home. When i looked in his eyes,i saw a vacant stare. He was gone-something he had seen had taken him away and only a shell with a uniform and red beret stood before me at the counter. I see his face often in my dreams and sometimes i will think of him if i see the Airborne on TV. I had to take him under my wing and make sure he got on the plane. I remember telling my family about him, i know often i repeat the story. God bless my mother, may she rest in peace. She always listened to all my mental anguish and my health problems even as she lay in bed stricken with severe RA and a whole host of other health problems. Every day she listened to how much pain i was in. She understood the pain. She always had patience listening to me talk about my stomach problems,i mean, who wants to hear about someone's crippling diarrhea problem. LOL She understood what it was like to have a life being stripped away, to be a prisoner to your body and to hear about my problems with the VA.Even though her hands were curled up from RA, she would lie in the bed and write Senators and callthem and write the VA demanding they compensate me and do something for allthe medicalproblems i had.God Bless you Mom.Now my sister Leslie has taken her place, listening to what happens at the VA nearly every day of the week. Without our families,what would we veterans do?
As this day winds down,i was glad that i was physically able to go to a service for the first time in years. But, lo and behold, Saddam's revenge had other plans for me and i spent the rest of the day running back and forth to the bathroom. Just when i think i can relax, Saddam rears his ugly head again and reminds me that we should have finished what we started in 1991.
Could someone pass me some toilet paper, please?