Jim Hale asked some of his war buddies to submit letters to the Department of Veterans Affairs to support his claim for PTSD benefits. Below are excerpts from two letters.
NOTE: The VA has denied his claim for benefits; his case is on appeal in Washington, D.C.
"Soon after the war, Jim came to visit me in my hometown. I knew him well enough to know he was very depressed and searching for answers. We were both 22 years old at the time, but both of us felt like old men. It wasn't the bad food, water and Agent Orange; it was (and is) the haunting, vivid scenes in our minds. Looking back, I believe we knew we had our lives to live and prayed that somehow, someway we could forget what we had experienced in Vietnam. The problem is, that no matter what we do, Vietnam is still with us in living color everyday."
— Rich Smyrnios
"It's all hazy now. But the time was really scary; we had no protection, no lights, and news that we could be attacked at any time. I do remember the incident when the civilians were injured, and I believe one was killed by our friendly fire. This was very traumatic to all of us. Here we are in country to help the Viet people, and we end up killing and injuring them. It is very confusing and demoralizing for us."
-- Charlie Cruger