Dr. Harry Frank Farmer Jr. served in the U.S. Army, Florida National Guard and U.S. Air Force before his retirement as a Colonel in 2004. A Vietnam veteran and former professor of history, Farmer became a physician in 1976 and served as president of the Florida Medical Association, chairman of the Florida Board of Medicine, and from 2011-2012 as Surgeon General and Secretary of Health for the State of Florida.
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Vietnam Veterans Finally Get Their Own Day on March 29
By Joe Newby
They went to war, fought for us, bled for us, died for us. When they came home, they were spit on and treated worse than dirt. That’s right, I’m talking about those who served in the Vietnam War.
Finally, after 50 long years, they’re getting their own day, according to the VA:
As part of the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War, VA and 29 states and territories are commemorating the anniversary of the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam with a day of appreciation celebrated on March 29.
More than 40 years after the war, many Veterans continued to feel the effects of their service. Some battled with Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others fought illnesses caused by their exposure to Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants sprayed during the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) believes their fight should be honored.
One of those who served is my good friend Vietnam Marine Vet John "Jack" Cunningham, who continues to fight not only PTSD, but a legal system in New Jersey that seems to be doing all it can to deny him justice.
He wrote a poem, called “Dear Vietnam Veteran,” and you can see it below, or visit his website to hear it.
“Dear Vietnam Veteran”
I know I should have written much sooner.
I can’t say why I did not. Out of fear of admitting to myself you were there fighting a war. Or maybe ashamed; ashamed that I never accepted the things you felt you had to do.
Whatever it is, I know it must hurt.
Believe me when I say it hurts me more. I have the burden of your hurt plus that of my own; the pain of not being able to show my true feeling toward you.
I am not writing this for the months you served in Vietnam, but for the many years, you were left alone with only your brother Veterans. You served proudly and it went unmentioned.
For a long time, I’ve wanted to express the words. The words an honorable Veteran needs to hear.
For a long time, I’ve wanted to hold you during your times of pain.
God knows I wanted to.
And only He knows why I never found the courage. I do not remember what I used to say; maybe I do not want to remember.
All I know is I hope that it is not too late to give you those things now.
For years, you tried to be part of my world. Doing everything to please me, just to be noticed and given a little time and understanding.
I look back and see the demands I placed on your shoulders when you were young. “Fight your weakness, and always show strength to others around you.”
Who was I to make such a demand?
I sit here with tears in my heart, finally admitting to myself the one weakness you must have seen in me and never questioned.
My inability to say the words that I know would have meant so much to you.
You served your country honorably.
Please hear these words now, from my heart. Please give me a chance to be part of your world now. The world I should have been part of long ago.
Thanks, John "Jack" Cunningham, for your service and all you’ve done for your country. And thanks go out to all those who served during that God-awful war. You’re finally getting your day, and it’s about damn time.
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VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA
Founded in 1978, Vietnam Veterans of America is the only national Vietnam
veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated
to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA is organized as a not-for-profit
corporation and is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(19) of the
Internal Revenue Service Code.
VVA FOUNDING PRINCIPLE
"Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."
Aggressively advocate on issues important to veterans
Seek full access to quality health care for veterans
Identify the full range of disabling injuries and illnesses incurred during military service.
Hold government agencies accountable for following laws mandating veterans health care.
Create a positive public perception of Vietnam veterans
Seek the fullest possible accounting of America's POW/MIAs
Support the next generation of America's war veterans
Serve our communities.