Veterans Day, 2018

 

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A partial repeat: In 1967, the Summer of Love was over. Viet Nam protests were barely beginning, and I found myself without a place to live, and had quit a job with an abusive boss. I did not know what to do, and so I joined the USWACs. The Army was segregated in those days — not by race, but by sex. All WAC training was held at Ft. McClellan, AL and so the Army flew me out to begin my training. It was in Alabama, in 1967 that I first observed racial segregation. I saw “whites-only” bathrooms and water faucets. They were NOT just a “left-over” relic from an earlier and sad time. They were a commentary on how far we still had to come, and have come. Racial segregation, at least not overt, was minimal in California. It was still rampant in Alabama when I was there.

In 1968 I was stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ at the Combat Surveillance School/Training Center Headquarters. (Spook School) I was on my way home to California when an automobile accident almost took my life, and did take my leg.

I ended up at the Veteran’s Hospital in West LA, associated with UCLA medical center. The medical care there was the best available. What wasn’t the best, was how they treated women veterans. We were a rarity, and the VA was not set up to deal with us.

There were no changing rooms for physical therapy for women vets, and I was the only one in the program. They had me use a broom closet. Of the over 400 bed hospital, only 16 were for women, and we had a separate open ward.

In 2018, more women have been elected to state and federal offices than ever before in history and more people of color are fulfilling their dreams of public service. There was both a blue wave and an estrogen wave. In my lifetime, women have traversed a difficult path with determination and with grace. We are making a difference.

In Harris County, TX, home of Houston TX, 19 black females were elected to the bench this past Tuesday. In TX. In GA, a black female is still in the running for Governor, as of this writing. This past Tuesday, there WAS a shift in the American conscience. We achieved so much and overcame much of the hatred and racism which had infected some of our leaders. We told them, NO MORE. I could not be prouder of us and how we are taking back our democracy from those who have been trying to destroy it for the last couple years. We are a nation that is inclusive, not devisive. We are becoming stronger than ever before. America is powerful because of our diversity. Let us celebrate how much stronger our love is than the hate. Blessings to all our veterans and those who support them.

Veterans Day

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This is my annual Veterans Day post.

In 1967, the Summer of Love was over. Viet Nam protests were barely beginning, and I found myself in unusual circumstances in an unusual time, and so I joined the USWACs.

The Army was segregated in those days — not by race, but by sex. All WAC training was held at Ft. McClellan, AL and so the Army flew me out to begin my training. It was in Alabama, in 1967 that I first observed racial segregation. I saw “whites-only” bathrooms and water faucets. They were NOT just a “left-over” relic from an earlier and sad time. They were a commentary on how far we still had to come, and have come. Racial segregation, at least not overt, was minimal in California. It was still rampant in Alabama when I was there.

In 1968 I was stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ at the Combat Surveillance School/Training Center Headquarters. (Spook School) I was on my way home to California when an automobile accident almost took my life, and did take my leg.

I ended up at the Veteran’s Hospital in West LA, associated with UCLA medical center. The medical care there was the best available. What wasn’t the best, was how they treated women veterans. We were a rarity, and the VA was not set up to deal with us.

There were no changing rooms for physical therapy for women vets, and I was the only one in the program. They had me use a broom closet. I was in therapy with a few WWII vets, but mostly with Viet Nam vets, youngsters like me, who had been blown up in the war – had lost one or both legs, one or both arms, or some combination of amputations. It was a difficult time, but that was 45 years ago.

Today, we honor our veterans, from all wars, across time and oceans and death. Today, I’d like to pay tribute to all veterans, but especially to my deceased step-father, Bruce Mises, a veteran, who died at the age of 93.

Bruce was an incredible man. He was a Jew. He escaped Auschwitz (actually from a train as they were transferring him) and was smuggled out through Hungary to the United States. He lost his entire family to the Nazis. When he got to the United States, he joined the Army and they sent him to Africa to be an interpreter. He did not like to talk about his experiences during WWII. They were not pleasant. He just did what he had to do, and then gave back to his “adopted” country.

It is veterans like Him, and all the others I have had the pleasure of knowing, through service, and Veteran’s Hospitals, and Clinics that I salute today. I am one of you, and as long as I live, I will not forget. Welcome home, soldiers. You are safe, now.