Vietnam through the eyes of Latino soldiers (The Los Angeles Times)
Opinion: “The monument to all Mexican American veterans in Boyle Heights was dedicated in 1947 — the same year that a new generation of Latino soldiers, the Vietnam generation, was being born. The war in Southeast Asia ended 40 years ago; it would be another five years before the U.S. began counting Latinos separately in the national census. That sort of invisibility has made researching Latino veterans and Vietnam all the harder. Now Tomás Summers Sandoval, a Pomona College history professor, is amassing all the information he can, especially oral histories, before the soldiers — and their stories — begin to disappear. … What is some of the effect of the war on Latino communities? There’s a whole span of ways: It animates a strong antiwar stance, a new way of understanding the role of the U.S. on the global stage. At the same time there are veterans who come back having a deeper sense of patriotism, of being connected to the nation, that they earned their citizenship. One common thing is a mistrust of the institutions of the country that exists at the same time with a love of the country. They distinguish between a military apparatus, and a government apparatus that will take young men like them to fight. There’s a mistrust but at the same time a sense of pride in what they saw as their duty. I spoke to a veteran who returned to East Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 1970, the day of the largest protest of the Chicano antiwar moment. The events of that day culminated in the death of [journalist] Ruben Salazar. Returning from war to his community, he saw another domestic war taking place. He witnessed a police officer hitting someone with a club, and his immediate response was to get in that fight and hit the officer. Places like East L.A. were like the rest of the country, negotiating the meaning of this kind of war.”
Family returns found dog tags to New Mexico veterans’ relatives (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Basil Robinson’s relatives have his military dog tags back after a family found them in a dumpster while searching for scrap metal. The Roswell Daily Record reports Robinson moved in 2010 to be closer to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque. The former hospital corpsman put most of his belongings, including the dog tags and several medals, into two storage lockers, which were broken into and cleared out. Venus, James and Tina Wooddell posted a picture of the tags to Facebook on Saturday and returned them to Robinson’s father, Jim, a day later. The family says Robinson died in 2014 because of heart complications related to his service in Operation Desert Storm.
Girl Scouts use cookie sale proceeds to replace vets’ flags stolen from cemetery (Washington Times)
A Girl Scout troop in Southern California used its cookie sale earnings to replace the hundreds of American flags stolen from a cemetery over Memorial Day weekend. Michael Blake, the administrative assistant at Elsinore Valley Cemetery, said roughly 650 flags were missing from a storage shed on Saturday — the day they were supposed to be placed on veterans’ graves for Memorial Day, a local NBC affiliate reported. Boy and Girl Scouts have helped the cemetery with the Memorial Day project for the past six years. When girls of Troop 1124 learned of the theft Saturday morning, they decided to use their cookie money to reimburse the cemetery. “We used our cookie money to buy new flags so we can remember and honor our veterans,” troop leader Cynthia Bertoldo’s daughter, Emiley, told NBC. The girls spent $450 after taking trips to Wal-Mart, Big Lot, and Dollar Tree. Mr. Blake called the girls “saviors of the day” and said it was “really awesome of them to step up and do it for us, because that wasn’t cheap,” NBC reported.
Boston homeless veterans center to get $31M upgrade (Boston Globe)
Homeless veterans in Boston and surrounding communities will have better access to improved living accommodations, transitional services, and vocational programs, as a center dedicated to helping them begins work on a multimillion-dollar renovation downtown. On Wednesday, the New England Center for Homeless Veterans will break ground on the $31 million, 18-month construction project to provide state-of-the art resources for its clients. “The building is showing its age, so we are creating a facility that can be adaptable for veterans for decades to come,” said Andy McCawley, president and chief executive of the Court Street center. “These upgrades will get people into housing faster and more effectively, and offer a full array of services like case management support, vocational training, employment services, and wellness services.” The project should be complete by the end of next year, said McCawley, a retired Navy officer, and will help aid the more than 1,500 homeless vets that the center assists annually. “Most veterans are very successful, and are a great asset to our society, and we want to make sure every veteran has an opportunity for that same success,” he said of the upgrades. The project is being funded through public partnerships and the use of federal, state, and city dollars. A portion of the funding is also coming from private donors and foundations including the Life Initiative, a state-backed program that provides capital for projects that benefit low-income communities.
Retired veteran among those honored on new postage stamps (Fayetteville Observer)
Gordon R. Roberts hasn’t bought any stamps lately. But next time he does, he might see a familiar face: his own. Roberts, a retired Army colonel who earned the nation’s highest award for valor while serving in Vietnam, is one of 48 veterans honored on the U.S. Postal Service’s newest book of stamps. The Medal of Honor: Vietnam War Forever Stamps were unveiled on Memorial Day in Washington, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. The stamps themselves depict the images of the three versions of the Medal of Honor – one each for Army, Air Force and Navy. Outlining the stamps are the young faces of most of the surviving recipients of the medal from Vietnam. They include Roberts, who now lives in Erwin, and several other veterans with Fort Bragg ties, including Melvin Morris and Bennie Adkins. Roberts retired in a ceremony on Fort Bragg in 2012. In 1969 he was still a “wide-eyed country boy from southern Ohio” when he charged enemy bunkers in the A Shau Valley, destroying four enemy fighting positions while helping his platoon relieve a pinned-down company. It’s that wide-eyed image of a boyish soldier that looks out from the book of stamps. Roberts said a lot has changed since then. He left the Army shortly after receiving the Medal of Honor, then returned as an officer in 1991 and deployed multiple times in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s now enjoying retired life. “The one duty assignment I was truly waiting to get,” he said.
Veterans plan film to challenge Hollywood depictions of them (HamptonRoads.com)
With few exceptions, Hollywood’s attempts to make a movie depicting veterans haven’t gone over well in the community it aims to mimic. “Con Air,” “Jarhead,” “Green Zone” and “The Hurt Locker” are among the films that induce cringes and groans from a group of veterans tired of Hollywood’s depictions of them. Those veterans — including Medal of Honor recipients Dakota Meyer and Leroy Petry and well-known veterans Tim Kennedy and Marcus Luttrell – now plan to make their own movie. Two military apparel companies are leading the drive. Durham-based Ranger Up and Texas-based Article 15 each earmarked $250,000 for the project and are crowd funding the rest. The group set an original goal of $325,000 on Indiegogo. In 10 days, the campaign had raised roughly $450,000 with pledges from more than 3,500 donors. Nick Palmisciano, CEO of Ranger Up, said the sky’s now the limit. “The more we raise, the better the movie becomes,” he said. In most movies, veterans are cliched versions of themselves, one-dimensional, humorless Neanderthals, the veterans behind the movie say in an introductory video. “Yes, we’re Neanderthals, but we’re pretty (expletive) funny,” says one of the veterans involved in the project. The movie, “Range 15,” is billed as a post-apocalyptic comedy. The plot will revolve around a veteran transitioning out of the military who finds himself and his veteran friends in a fight for humanity. The tag line for the movie: “The only thing scarier than the world ending is the team that’s trying to save it.” Palmisciano said the veterans involved in the project include several who served at Fort Bragg. They are Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, Marines and airmen. The group had been kicking around the idea of a movie for months, Palmisciano said. Its members were frustrated with how even good movies often dehumanized the military. For every “Saving Private Ryan,” “Black Hawk Down” or “Lone Survivor” there are scores of bad depictions of troops and veterans, he said. In movies, service members are jerks, stiff robots incapable of having fun or men with unbridled testosterone, he said. Those involved in “Range 15” want to take a different approach.
Veterans history project nears 100,000 items at Library of Congress (The Bradford Era)
The Library of Congress has been working to build an oral history collection to capture veterans’ memories of war, and the project is nearing a milestone of 100,000 records. The Veterans History Project is now in its 15th year. It holds more than 96,000 remembrances from veterans, including oral history recordings, letters, photos and memoirs that can be used by researchers. Organizers hope to have 100,000 remembrances by the end of 2015. Bob Patrick, who runs the project, says more than half the material comes from World War II veterans, totaling 57,000 records. Thousands more come from veterans who served in the Korean war, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans can record their own oral histories with family members with instructions on the library’s website. For more information: http://www.loc.gov/vets/
Military members, vets get fast lane to occupational licensing under Minn. law (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Current and former military members living in Minnesota now have a faster path to occupational licensing in several career fields. As part of a bill signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton last weekend, the Legislature created fast lanes for temporary licenses that will enable military members, recently retired veterans and their spouses to get to work while completing requirements for standard licensure. The temporary licenses apply to would-be optometrists, podiatrists, dietitians, therapists and counselors, barbers, cosmetologists and nail technicians. Applicants would still have to go through criminal background checks where required and pay a fee for the temporary license. Advocates of the change say it will help military members and veterans get into chosen career fields quicker, especially those whose service has prompted family relocations.