Could not get my medicine
Veterans’ Voices is a new column directed toward veterans and their families who have given so much to ensure our freedom in this country. This is an area where you may share your experiences, or read of other veterans’ experiences. We thank you for your service, and hope that you know how much you are loved and appreciated.
A few years ago, I was in the Fresno Veterans Hospital, picking up some medicine that was ready for me. I was standing in line at the pharmacy window with about 15 others waiting patiently. The entry door opened, and an Army Captain, dressed in his class A uniform, entered the waiting area.
I thought, at the time, that he was a well-dressed officer, railroad tracks shining. I looked on his right sleeve and saw that he had been overseas. I looked at his ribbons attempting to figure out what they meant.
Anyway, after about five steps in, he stopped in his tracks and just stared my way. I turned around thinking he was looking at someone else. His eyes were locked on mine. He must have stood there 30 seconds or so, just staring at me. I knew I didn’t know him. Then, all of a sudden, he continued walking into the hospital.
I was wondering why he was staring at me. I just thought that was strange. I finally made it up to no. 3 in line and thought it would not be long before I could pick up my meds and leave. I then saw that same Captain walk back in the waiting area.
He stopped short of the door, turned around and started to stare at me again. I thought, “Here we go again.” After about another long 30 seconds, he walked over and stopped about six feet from me. He asked if he could approach me. I told him that it was okay.
Anyway, he walked up to me and said he wanted to apologize for staring at me, but I looked just like his father. I chuckled and asked him if that was a good thing. He assured me it was. He asked me where I was in Vietnam. I thought, “How did he know I was there?” Then I remembered I was wearing a Vietnam hat.
I told him 95 percent of my time over there was in Cambodia, attached to the 9th Infantry division. He thanked me for sharing that. Then he told me that his father was killed in action in Vietnam, and was in 1st Infantry. He said that it kind of freaked him out when he saw me. He couldn’t really remember his father due to his young age, but his mother shared a lot of pictures of his Dad with him. I told him that I was sorry for his loss, however, I believe his father was looking down on him and was proud of him for his military service. He then asked me if we could share phone numbers and have some coffee sometime. I did share my number with him.
He backed up, popped to attention, and saluted me. I just about lost my composure. I saluted him back. I was barely able to hold back the tears. He then left. Right then, I felt someone pulling on the bottom of my T-shirt. I turned around and a very frail elderly lady asked me to bend down. She wanted to tell me something, so I did.
She heard my earlier conversation with the Captain and told me that her son was also killed in action in Vietnam. I told her that I was very sorry for her loss. I thought to myself, I can’t take much more. Others in the room heard both conversations and all got up and clapped. The tears started to roll. I left that day after standing in line for more than 30 minutes for my medicine without my medicine. He has contacted me, and we had dinner many times and hung out.
The reason I wrote this was to thank all of the families that lost their loved ones, the families that have their loved ones deployed and thank the ones that did make it back. I have always said, “The soldiers that did go to war for a year to make this country free, they still have to fight a battle in their head for the rest of their lives.”
Thank a Veteran for their service. Give them a card with a special handwritten message on them. They deserve that and much more.
Give me your thoughts at AboutVets@yahoo.com.
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— Royal D. Goodman,
U.S. Army / Vietnam,
1st. Cav / 9th Infantry