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Old 07-11-07, 09:59 PM   #1
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Surprising conversations

A homeless guy wished me a good evening as I rode by him today, and I decided to stop and talk to him for a bit. He told me his name was Gary, and complained that life is crap, and that he'd been through a lot that he had no control over. I agreed that there is a lot that you have no control over, and that you just do the best you can with what you have... ultimately, you can only be responsible for a small corner of the world.

Anyway, it turns out he was a First Nations (Native American) Vietnam vet, formerly of dual US / Canada citizenship, who decided to join the Canadian military after Kennedy was assassinated and later was recommended for fighting in Vietnam because "they thought I looked like I could make it through". He was telling me battlefield stories of guys getting their legs blown off and med-evaced out, and how he still doesn't know how he survived the jungle. "**** happens," he said. He laughed about a friend of his who is afraid of spiders: "you don't know what a spider is until you're in the jungle!". And he talked about how he's just tired of dealing with a world in which things like he saw in Vietnam happen.

It was a fascinating and touching conversation, and I'm glad I stopped. I'm not sure that he got anything out of it, but I hope so. Any of you had interesting conversations spring out of unlikely or random situations?
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Old 07-11-07, 10:13 PM   #2
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Isn't it interesting that when you talk to somebody you may not normally talk to you realize they do have something to share with you. That's a great story, gbcb, maybe it should be in the "positive" thread.
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Old 07-12-07, 03:14 AM   #3
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You sure he said he was in the Canadian Army?

Canada never sent combat troops to Vietnam, although they did send some troops to monitor the cease fire between '73-'75.
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Old 07-12-07, 05:10 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by botto
You sure he said he was in the Canadian Army?

Canada never sent combat troops to Vietnam, although they did send some troops to monitor the cease fire between '73-'75.
You sure about that? Canada's Secret War: Vietnam.
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Old 07-12-07, 07:42 AM   #5
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You sure about that? Canada's Secret War: Vietnam.
I wrote "Canada never sent combat troops to Vietnam", not that Canadians didn't volunteer for the US military, if that's what you mean.
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Old 07-12-07, 10:33 AM   #6
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Go Buy Him A Coat! Hobos Love Coats!!!
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Old 07-12-07, 10:36 AM   #7
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seems like every homeless guy i've encountered is a 'nam vet...
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Old 07-12-07, 10:46 AM   #8
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seems like every homeless guy i've encountered is a 'nam vet...

The reality is that the majority of the homeless are from the foster care system and mentally ill.
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Old 07-12-07, 01:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by botto
I wrote "Canada never sent combat troops to Vietnam", not that Canadians didn't volunteer for the US military, if that's what you mean.
Ok, got it. Thank you.
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Old 07-12-07, 02:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3MTA3
seems like every homeless guy i've encountered is a 'nam vet...
A lot of them are. We knew about post war trauma back then. But just like now, we
didn't do much about it. Lose the attitude and talk to them.
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Old 07-12-07, 02:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by late
A lot of them are. We knew about post war trauma back then. But just like now, we
didn't do much about it. Lose the attitude and talk to them.
We knew about "shell shock" in WWI and WWII and in the Korean war.....where are those guys?

A lot are vietnam vets, but certainly not the majority.

http://www.nchv.org/background.cfm
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Old 07-12-07, 03:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady
We knew about "shell shock" in WWI and WWII and in the Korean war.....where are those guys?

A lot are vietnam vets, but certainly not the majority.

http://www.nchv.org/background.cfm
Now? Most of them have died or are nearly there. One of my coworkers (psychologist) has this theory that since many of the vets of the WWI-Korea era lived with a lot more privations (disease epidemics, the Depression, etc.) than the preceding generations before they went to war, they had better coping skills. Plus, "keeping a stiff upper lip" was more of a social norm when the older vets were growing up. It's an interesting idea, and I don't think it's entirely off-base.
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Old 07-12-07, 03:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by donnamb
Now? Most of them have died or are nearly there. One of my coworkers (psychologist) has this theory that since many of the vets of the WWI-Korea era lived with a lot more privations (disease epidemics, the Depression, etc.) than the preceding generations before they went to war, they had better coping skills. Plus, "keeping a stiff upper lip" was more of a social norm when the older vets were growing up. It's an interesting idea, and I don't think it's entirely off-base.

Very true. Also the Vietnam vets were literally spat upon when they returned. And....those wars were before the vast social welfare system we have now. If you didn't take care of yourself, you couldn't rely on the government to do it for you. Get a job or die of starvation. It can be quite the motivator.
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Old 07-12-07, 03:39 PM   #14
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Back when I was a kid (60's), we didn't have "homeless" people, whe had BUMS or HOBOS, and they were actually proud of their footloose status.

Anyway, there was one bum who lived in the rural/resort area I grew up in during warm weather - his name was Mike. My older brother pulled him out of a ditch one day after he had been clipped by a car & got him medical attention; he thereafter "adopted" the rest of us.

Mike had a history about him, ranging from beserk butterflies to a complete and encylopedic knowlege of the Greek Classics, Latin, and Medival literature (being what it is...). He just had a drinking and employment problem when we knew him. He's probably dead by now, but he was never someone my parents would warn us about, and we actually would spend hours listening to his historic tales when we were young. Of course, we would also fix him up when the beserk butterflies got the better of him and he needed stitches to repair the damage (watch out for these glass infected insects).

Anyway, some of these modern day homeless ARE total wackos; odds are they are mostly people with financial and/or addiction problems. Doesn't make them evil, illiterate, stupid...just usually smelly. Stand down wind. Do figure out what the situation is before making friends, though; some can be helped, some need long term care. Some are simply on a long-term suicidal mission.
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Old 07-12-07, 04:21 PM   #15
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My father and stepdad were in The Big One. My Stepdad would set off
the alarm every time he went through a metal detector. They would have the
most mild mannered guy you could imagine practically down to his underwear and the thing would go BEEEEP.

This had the rest of us laughing hysterically. After he died (he never talked about it)
I learned he had been one of the guys that liberated a concentration camp. What was setting the alarm off was shrapnel they couldn't take out.
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Old 07-12-07, 04:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donnamb
Now? Most of them have died or are nearly there. One of my coworkers (psychologist) has this theory that since many of the vets of the WWI-Korea era lived with a lot more privations (disease epidemics, the Depression, etc.) than the preceding generations before they went to war, they had better coping skills. Plus, "keeping a stiff upper lip" was more of a social norm when the older vets were growing up. It's an interesting idea, and I don't think it's entirely off-base.
It's true. But there was a hell of a price to pay in doing it.
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Old 07-12-07, 11:34 PM   #17
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I used to work in a Vet Center and you could not put a label on the group, except that they were all vets. The covered the range from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I. They all had their private problems but by and large the ones that were represented in the homeless population were VietNam Vets.
I have heard so many stories and some of them seem trivial to me, but to them they were not.
Steven
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Old 07-13-07, 04:01 AM   #18
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I used to work in a Vet Center and you could not put a label on the group, except that they were all vets. The covered the range from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I. They all had their private problems but by and large the ones that were represented in the homeless population were VietNam Vets.
I have heard so many stories and some of them seem trivial to me, but to them they were not.
Steven
You have to realise these guys were hated and feared in Vietnam and then came home to a negative reaction. The psychological stress was extremely high, and heaped on top of any stress related to their service.

The CIA did a poll in South Vietnam when we were considering having elections.
Ho would have won with over 90% of the votes.

They also may not be telling you the whole story. In Vietnam we were oppressors, not liberators. It got ugly.
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Old 07-13-07, 06:41 AM   #19
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Very true. Also the Vietnam vets were literally spat upon when they returned.

They were not spat upon. How long will this myth continue?

http://www.rlg.org/en/page.php?Page_ID=95
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Old 07-13-07, 07:36 AM   #20
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They were not spat upon. How long will this myth continue?

http://www.rlg.org/en/page.php?Page_ID=95

It is not a myth despite some guy's book report from a no name college. Of the hundreds of thousands of vets, how can you confirm that they were not spat upon?
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Old 07-13-07, 07:49 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady
It is not a myth despite some guy's book report from a no name college. Of the hundreds of thousands of vets, how can you confirm that they were not spat upon?
I think this myth has been growing since a small incident by an over zealous protester at the SF airport spit at an returning vet during an argument they were having. As a whole most vets were treated well by the public, it was the government who sold them short.
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Old 07-13-07, 07:51 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by ngateguy
I think this myth has been growing since a small incident by an over zealous protester at the SF airport spit at an returning vet during an argument they were having. As a whole most vets were treated well by the public, it was the government who sold them short.

Yes, most were treated well by their communities and their families, but there were a few isolated incidents of spitting. It isn't a myth, but rather a real story blown out of proportion.
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Old 07-13-07, 07:59 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowandsteady
It is not a myth despite some guy's book report from a no name college. Of the hundreds of thousands of vets, how can you confirm that they were not spat upon?

See the following. It seems there is no evidence that it occurred, but it's harder to prove something didn't happen than it did in this case.

http://www.slate.com/id/2159099/


In the absence of any evidence I find it hard to believe that it occurred, but if it did and can be proven than I will amend my POV.

If it did happen it was obviously not widespread.
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Old 07-13-07, 08:00 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by ngateguy
I think this myth has been growing since a small incident by an over zealous protester at the SF airport spit at an returning vet during an argument they were having.

If you read the articles I linked you will see this could not have happened.
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Old 07-13-07, 08:00 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowandsteady
Yes, most were treated well by their communities and their families, but there were a few isolated incidents of spitting. It isn't a myth, but rather a real story blown out of proportion.

Do you have any verifiable evidence?
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