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Vietnam.

It was a war filled with folly, brutality, courage, sacrifice, dubious goals, and moral ambiguity. Pretty much like all wars.

This war for my family still rages. My brother-in-law served in Vietnam near fifty years ago. He came home alive, in one piece. He resumed his civilian life, started and raised a family. He has two children and six grandchildren.

Of course, he remembers his brothers-in-arms who didn’t make it back to have the life he has had. The jungle he thought he left behind had one more treacherous pitfall he could not evade. We all have heard about the dioxin-contaminated defoliant Agent Orange taking its toll on both jungle canopy and humans unlucky enough to be caught in its cloud. My brother-in-law is one more victim. At age 72, he is suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The VA doesn’t even contest that his case and others like his are service-related. Maybe from Agent Orange, maybe something else.

My brother-in-law’s war isn’t over. Yet. Every phone call from him is about what he can no longer do. He can no longer tend his gardens or play golf, except for putting. Right now he walks with canes. The wheelchair awaits. His voice is halting, as he struggles to simply speak. His respirations are about one-third of what they should be. The disease is slowly paralyzing the muscles.

He is another casualty of “friendly fire”.