Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adventures in Paradise-- Vietnam: 68-70.

Here is a special, cherished picture of me [on the left with dark brown hair] enjoying myself with some crew members in our 'flight platoons', 'White Flight and Blue Flight' of the 240th AHC [Assault Helicopter Company] stationed at BearCat, RVN, 1969-70. A dear friend, Walter E. Weber- another gunner from Blue Flight, took that picture. I was with the 'White Flight' platoon. I was 6 feet tall and weighed about 165 pounds when I was 20 or 21 in this picture. We had to get along with each other-- and made some life long friends-- because we protected each others' 'backs' back then. And we saw some of our members/ buddies die over there, too. It could have easily been my butt that got zapped! But for some reason, God saved me, and I am THANKFUL and BLESSED.

Here is how our usual days went, 7 days a week, for a year or more in my 2nd tour of duty- Vietnam. Our worst deprivation was lack of sleep, IMHO, and that is why many combat Vets came home 'aged' and gray haired before our time... lol, even in our early twenties. I am sue that Agent Orange has something to do with that too. Lack of sleep will mess up your beautiful youth. The platoon Sargent would come in early to wake us up one at a time, and certainly in a special way as he knew our individual temperaments. Some guys' fist would shoot out instantly, but I wasn't that bad. For me he would gently shake my shoulder and say, "Schuckman, get up." Then we would look on the platoon board / chart to see which missions we would go on for that day, and sometimes there might be 2- 3 different missions for one platoon. We had 3 'flight platoons' -- 2 slicks[transportation platoons/ groups for carrying Infantry into combat, and out again] [the Greyhounds], and one gunship platoon [the Mad Dogs]. Then for me, a gunner, I could go quick to the Mess Hall for breakfast[ bad food from bad jerky cooks] or go straight to the Flight Line and our company 'gun shack' to pick up my locked 2- M-60 machine guns and Ammo [7.62 mm belts stored in 'Mini-gun' steel cans]. Gunners were actually 'in-training' to become Crew Chiefs someday, and we had to assist the Chief in some of the ship's light maintenance-- cleaning the deck and windows, as well as provide, clean the guns, ammo, etc.

Well, then our Flight was off in the air to our destination/ mission to begin that days operations/ fighting/ objectives, usually in 3rd Corps, I believe. We worked with American soldiers [the BEST!], ARVIN's [friendly Vietnamese Army], Thai [Royal Thai Army], ROK [Koreans], Special Forces, Marines, Navy, and ... I am not allowed to mention other groups [Big Brother still worries us Vets... concerning classified stuff]. After the day was over we came home to our base, cleaned our guns, and by that time the darn mess hall was closed, so we had to go hungry or BUY something at the EM Club, where you see me and others in the picture above. Perhaps one reason I over ate when I got out of the Army was because we crew members in the flight platoons didn't get enough food in the war time. But I didn't become over wieght until about age 35...and I wasa power lifter for the past 20 years. Lord knows that I sure need to lose weight now! But- better to be fat in this life than lose my soul and salvation in the next life. We are all here for eternity --it's just a matter of where we will spend it.

At least we had showers that worked some of the time. I pity the infantry [grunts] who didn't have that luxury for better health and hygiene. People used to say that a 'Grunt' can take anything. but I thought waging war from a cool helicopter was the ONLY way to fight! But when they got shot down and/ or crashed the JP-4 jet fuel would cook everyone aboard the aircraft.

As a matter of fact, we were told at Aviation school at Ft. Rucker , AL, that we would be sent to Fort Polk, LA if we flunked out of Aviation school. No one failed.

A few friends asked me to share more of my adventures in Vietnam, and so I am.
More later.


No Help for Veterans on Veterans' Day.

Well, here is another disappointment today as my medications didn't fly because it is a HOLIDAY-- Veterans' Day... Ha! Go figure-- the VA staff has the day off, even the Pharmacy so they can party hardy, but the true disabled Veterans that they are supposed to serve and take care of may be high and dry for their medications and services! From what I understand, even the detainees at Gitmo have better care than we disabled Vets... Ha! But in the 30 plus years dealing with the VA-- this is par for the course.

NEVER: Schedule a doctor visit the last day before a holiday! Their minds will NOT BE ON YOU...lol.

ALWAYS: call up and double check that your meds are actually in the mail-- do not expect the VA to be on time or do their own jobs with you holding their hand.

ALWAYS: Take a friend or your spouse with you to a doctor visit or service at the VA-- I have people try to lie out of something they said AND ABUSE ME if I was there alone, and 2 witnesses will stand up in court. And have your friend, spouse always bring a pen and paper with them to record stuff. Confucius say: short pencil better than long memory.

ALWAYS: Bring a written list of things that you want to discuss with your doctor or Nurse Practitioner so you don't forget, and get their business card and/ or EXTENSION number written down! With out that Ext. # you will NEVER get them on the phone and the VA round around [good old boys game] will run you ragged until you just quit and give up.

Call the local Radio and TV stations in your area when you have something serious to address, like when the lazy hospital staff in Milwaukee take up parking places saved ONLY FOR THE DISABLED. Write their tag and report it. I have seem [ever time I go there!] poor old, disabled, crippled men [mostly] who have to walk many long distances just to get to the door.

Unfortunately, I had an authorize, legitimate SCRIPT from my own private specialist doctor that for many reasons [COPD - lungs, severe arthritis in knees and back,etc] I NEEDED A POWER SCOOTER, but the crooked VA staff determined after an exam that I just needed "reconditioning." Their only solution for obesity is a gut re-section-- serious dangerous surgery!! They want to "replace" my knees too.... Ha!

Well, this is all I have time for today -- sorry if I am a bit grumpy.

Please follow my dear friend, Dirk's fine helpful example, and I fully intend to send out more letters to my Senators, etc., to get some relief and satisfaction. I have access to many Vet orgs and disabled Vets all over the USA, and their stories are much the same as mine.. or worse!

If you want to remember the Veterans or help them when they need it, DO SOMETHING NOW! Any kind of letter [and I have learned to send it Certified or Registered Mail-- {as they tend to get "lost}...lol] will put the Gov't in a listening mode, and they know that they can and will get voted out next time... if the world lasts that long.

Thank you.


Georgia Senator Chambliss gets involved with the Milwaukee VA problems.

Here is another response and good news from my friend, Dirk. Read Below please:

Brother Tom,

Update . . . . .

I received a telephone call from Senator Chambliss's Washington office! I spoke with his manager, Jerry Acosta. He had read my letter and your post, and I reiterated the concerns that I had about the VA and the problems veterans had with obtaining services and needed treatment. Mr. Acosta said Senator Chambliss has been working on the problems with the VA. Senator Chambliss was able to get an appropriation of $86,000,000,000 this year which was a 77% increase over last year. One of Senator Chambliss's top priorities is improving PTSD and mental health services programs. In Georgia, $750,000 has been appropriated for five outpatient clinics for veterans around the state (one of them in Rome just opened). I don't know about in your area, and Mr. Acosta didn't know either. Mr. Acosta also said that some funds were being diverted from the VA hospitals to help fund the outpatient clinics.

Another top priority with Senator Chambliss is revamping the adjudication process which will hopefully help veterans to receive the benefits to which they're entitled and medical treatment in a more timely manner.

I asked Mr. Acosta, even though your area is not in Senator Chambliss's district, if they were aware of the problems with the facility in Milwaulkee. He said he wasn't, but he said he would be happy to look into it though, specifically to see how many complaints have been made against it.

I was surprised at the response, especially a telephone call the next day and on a Federal holiday! I don't know where it will go from here, but it's good to see someone in Washington is working on it. Senator Chambliss has taken on a mammoth task, and may not be able to do everything that has to be done, but it's a start. I was also surprised that his office was willing to check into the situation in Milwaukee rather than referring me to your Senators and Representatives. Mr. Acosta also said he would send me a letter via e-mail about these concerns.

I haven't heard back from Senator Isakson's office or Representative Gingrey's office, but I will let you know when I do.

To me, this just goes to show that one person can STILL start a fire! Just think if many people contacted all their Senators and Representatives about this. I bet there would be some attitude changes in other members of Congress!

Your Brother in Christ,

-----Original Message-----
From: Thomas G. Schuckman <tschuckman@aol.com>
To: tsalagiman1@aim.com
Sent: Mon, 10 Nov 2008 3:13 pm
Subject: Re: : [Heli-gunner Tom. http://heli-gunnertom.blogspot.com/] Milwaukee VA drops the...

Br. Dirk,
You have my permission, again.. lol
:-). Thank you so much for your kind support and friendship.


Thomas G. Schuckman
Heli-gunner Tom. http://heli-gunnertom.blogspot.com/
"Life is a Vapor" -James 4:14

-----Original Message-----
From: Dirk <tsalagiman1@aim.com>
To: tschuckman@aol.com
Sent: Mon, 10 Nov 2008 1:56 pm
Subject: Re: : [Heli-gunner Tom. http://heli-gunnertom.blogspot.com/] Milwaukee VA drops the...

Hi Tom,

Things like this always really gets me fired up. Other countries wouldn't have to try very hard at all to treat their veterans better than we do here. I know you OK' d forwarding to our Senators/Representatives, but I wanted to clear with you first if it was OK to forward this as is with you name on it.

I hope you get the medication soon. This is ridiculous. Hope you are well otherwise, my brother.