A Veteran’s Story
As a veteran from the Vietnam era, I am very upset about the wars in progress and the deaths and injuries sustained by our younger generation. Politics, money and greed, were and continue to propel these wars.
A veteran, upon entrance to the military, signs a blank check to the U.S.A., accepting even their demise for a greater good, larger than themselves. Many people are complacent about how our returning veterans are treated by our citizens and our government. As a single person, what could I possibly do to end my anger issues about the current wars and what could I do to help any of our current and post veterans?
F of FF’s [Friends of Firefighters] has filled those voids for me. It is probably the greatest social model invented for FF’s for the perpetual continuation of the greatest family and extended family in the world. Having lost my parents, F of FF’s and the FDNY has helped me cope. I know there is someone to turn to, always.
The Holliswood experience duplicates all I have stated above regarding F of FF’s, the FDNY and the veteran’s at Holliswood hospital. PTSD is a little addressed mental issue. Ironically, the current wars have brought it finally to a head.
Recently, a vet at one of the luncheons, humbled me by giving me a bracelet he wore during his deployments as a combat medic. He said I want you to have this. I said I am unworthy to accept it. I said I am here to thank you for serving our country. He said I am thanking you for taking your time to come here and talk to us and I want you to have it. I will treasure it till my end and will pass on it’s legacy to my children and grandchildren. I now possess a piece of physical evidence, a piece of history and a bracelet worn during the horrors of war experienced by it’s wearer. Yes, he is alive but; suffers from PTSD. I pray that the help system’s impacting on him speed his healing and return to his family which means all to him.
Emotionally, in private, I will salute him and forever call him “Doc”. The training and battlefield experience by medic’s allow them to be held in high esteem as a life saver. Many a wounded service person has yelled out, “Doc”, I’m here and need help. Maybe in my small way, I can help him heal. I think a visit day from the hospital with persons like me should be facilitated. Maybe I could act as a missed family member.
- Donald R. Sileo, ret. Supervising Fire Marshal, FDNY
“The Holliswood experience” Donald refers to the enriching partnership with Hope for the Warriors. Hope for the Warriors is a not-for-profit agency dedicated to supporting wounded warriors and their families. Their Family Reintegration Program operates in conjunction with the Military Wellness Program at the Holliswood Hospital in Queens has unfortunately closed since the writing of Donald’s story.