There is an assisted living/nursing home place across the street from where I do zumba. Since I often arrive at zumba a bit early I am able to sit in my car and watch some of the people going in and out of the place.
I’ve had the privilege of having quite a few conversations with one of the residents. His name is Dennis and he is an American veteran who served during Viet Nam. Dennis is in a wheelchair. Our conversations began over a year ago. I said hi to him and noticed he had on a cap displaying a veteran symbol. I thanked him for serving.
Since that time I’ve talked with him quite a bit. Though wheelchair bound and suffering from many health complications he doesn’t complain or seem to feel sorry for himself. One of his stories was so compelling that I believe it bears repeating. He was part of a veteran’s group that was often invited into public schools to speak about what it was like to serve in our armed forces during the Viet Nam war.
Dennis spoke about the fear and the loneliness. Also addressed was that when he (and others) came back to the country for which they had served they were not greeted as heros. They were often ostracized – despite the fact that they were drafted.
One evening, after speaking at a high school assembly, he stopped at the grocery store. While checking out, the cashier asked him if he was the man that had recently come to her high school. He said he was and the young cashier began to cry. She thanked him for coming to her school and talking about what he had been through.
Her Dad was a Viet Nam vet but had never spoken to her about his experiences. After hearing Dennis speak she went home and asked her Dad some questions about what it had been like for him. He began to cry and said that he had never talked about it with ANYONE after coming home.
Because of what the young woman heard from Dennis, communication took place and one vet was able to share some feelings that had been pent up inside him for decades. Of course I was crying by the time Dennis finished with his story.
How grateful I am for those of you who have served and those who continue to serve.
Your stories matter!
Last but not least, thank you Dennis!