801 – Interview with Healing Box founder Dave Dunklee

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The Dunklees and a guitar student

Back in episode 794 of this podcast, Vietnam Veteran News, The Healing Box Project was featured. The Project is a program being carried out at the Truman VA Hospital in Columbia, Missouri by Dave Dunklee and his wife CJ. The purpose of the Project is to help veterans with PTSD with the magic of music, guitar music to be exact.

The method of operation and results or the Project are so astounding I felt the need to have Dave and CJ as guests on the podcast to tell us more about this outstanding method of dealing with the terrible effects of PTSD. They were kind enough to come on and share with us about the Project. Dave is a retired music teacher who lives in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. He and CJ heard about a program at the VA hospital intended to help veterans of the Gulf wars and he thought with his teaching talents he could help so he volunteered his services to the hospital.

The Dunklees immediately set up a program of teaching veterans how to assuage PTSD symptoms with playing guitars. Dave had developed a training procedure during his years of teaching that could have a totally novice playing tunes within five minutes. The program he was working with ended when the Gulf war slowed up but he was immediately requited by councilors to continue his program at the Truman VA Hospital.

The couple readily accepted the invitation and continued The Healing Box Project that had been started for Gulf War veterans. Now most of their clients are Vietnam Veterans. Their success rate has been phenomenal and it has prevented more than one contemplated suicide. All the work they do for the Project is voluntary and they receive no support from the VA other than a place to meet.

To date they have given away at no cost to the participating veterans 88 guitars. These instruments have an average cost of $270 each and they are all premium brands like Fender and Gibson. Funds for the guitars come from fundraisers and donations.

This is a tremendous program run by some wonderful people. You are encouraged to make a donation to the Project so the Dunklees can continue their important work.

CLICK HERE for their website.

CLICK HERE for their Facebook page

 

800 – Two stories about Vietnam Veterans

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This 800th episode of the podcast Vietnam Veteran News marks the third anniversary of its founding back in January of 2014. We are grateful to the many subscribers who have helped make it a success. This podcast is dedicated to the betterment of the Vietnam Veteran Universe. We feature stories about the veterans, the war and some of its lasting effects. We also advocate for veteran causes.

To help note the milestones of the podcast’s three year anniversary and 800th episode, two stories about Vietnam Veterans will be featured. The First comes from Long Beach, Mississippi. US Navy Vietnam Veteran Jerry Wayne Pino recently passed away. Jerry had made all the prearrangements for his funeral except for one thing – the pallbearers. Because he did not have any family, there was no one to carry his casket.

Vietnam Vet Jerry Wayne Pino Funeral, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

The six young men who volunteered as pallbearers for Vietnam Veteran Jerry Wayne Pino serving at the funeral in Long Beach, Mississippi.

A story in The Daily Mail website dailymail.com titled: Heart-wrenching scenes see six teens flank Vietnam War veteran’s coffin as they volunteer as pallbearers at his funeral because he didn’t have any family that was submitted by Kaileen Gaul lays out the details. Kaileen describes how a veteran who worked at Riemann Family Funeral Homes in Long Beach contacted a young man who found the six pallbearers needed for the service. Bailey Griffin, Joseph Ebberman, JT Tripp, Jake Strong, Kenny McNutt and James Kneiss stepped forward to perform the service. The flag that draped the casket was presented to the young men after the service.

Joe Freedman, from Danby, left, and Joe Giammichele, from Horseheads, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Joe Freedman, from Danby, left, and Joe Giammichele, from Horseheads.(Photo: Gay Huddle / Correspondent photo)

The other story featured in this episode comes from The Star Gazette and is titled: REUNION: Two area Vietnam vets renew friendship that was submitted by Gay Huddle. Huddle tells about two Air Force Vietnam Veterans who were good buddies in Vietnam where they served with the 6994th Security Squadron outside Saigon. The two of them flew a total of 214 dangerous combat missions involved in low-level flying, flushing out North Vietnamese and Viet Cong radio transmitters.

After the war they separated but unknowingly settled in two small towns (Horse Heads and Danby) in New York only 30 minutes apart. They located each other via Facebook and recently met for a four hour breakfast at a Denny’s restaurant in Ithaca to catch up on old times.

799 – Delay, deny, wait till I die – Apparent VA Agent Orange policy

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John Scarlett died of brain cancer in November 2015. His widow says she believes his disease is linked to Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War. She and other widows are battling the VA for benefits. (Andrew Burton for ProPublica)

One of the missions of this podcast, Vietnam Veteran News, is to inform and warn all about the residual effects of Agent Orange. The Vietnam War begot many egregious residuum for both the veterans themselves and for the country as a whole. One of the more odious hangovers from that war is the effects of the notorious super weed killer Agent Orange or to be more specific its insidious ingredient – dioxin. In this episode a story from ProPublica and the Virginian-Pilot will be featured. It discusses the inconvenient truth about how the dangers of Agent Orange could be passed on to succeeding generations of the infected veterans. It appears the government in the form of the VA is adopting an attitude of: Delay, deny, wait until they die and then we can buy more office furniture and schedule more conferences in Las Vegas.

The aforementioned story if from the ProPublica and the Virginian-Pilot titled: Rethinking The Cost of War that was submitted by Charles Ornstein of ProPublica and Mike Hixenbaugh of the Virginian-Pilot. According to the findings of these resolute reporters, the rising tide of repeated recommendations by federal scientific advisory panels has motivated Congress to pass H.R.6416 – Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016. For what it is worth the bill directs the VA to “pursue research into toxic exposures and their potential effects across generations.” Two factors dampen the happiness of this bill’s passage. One is the fact the VA has already conducted such research over the years and promptly ignored the results. The other dampening reality is that it will take years and years for the VA to conduct new research. Victims of the condition need help now. They are rapidly dying out along with their effected off springs.

The country has an obligation to take care of its veterans including those and their off springs who are suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

798 – John Kerry smeared American Vietnam military service

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John Kerry smearing American soldiers before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1971.

As Secretary of State John Kerry steps down from office it is important for all Vietnam Veterans to be aware of and remember his past activities relating to those veterans before he goes off into obscurity and works at spending his wife’s money. There was a story about Mr. Kerry in The Washington Free Beacon’s website freebeacon.com titled: That Time John Kerry Defamed America and American Soldiers that was submitted by Brent Scher. It reminds us of the despicable things he said about American soldiers when he appeared before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee back in 1971. He followed up that appearance before the Senate with participation in a protest where he claimed he threw his medals on the White House lawn. Later he admitted the medals belonged to someone else.

One thing to keep in mind about John Kerry is that he was the son of a foreign service officer and grew up outside the United States. He lived in Berlin before going to a Swiss boarding school at age 11. Before joining the US Navy he relocated to New Haven, Connecticut where he matriculated and graduated from that bastion of conservative thought – Yale University.

In Scher’s story it is intimated that when Kerry said those terrible things about his own country’s troops, he was being used a tool by the Soviet Union propagandists. In the early 1970s Kerry became the spokesman of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), a group of a few thousand anti-war activists. Thomas Owens, a Naval War College professor who led a Marine platoon in the Vietnam War, has argued that much of what the VVAW was putting forward was based on Soviet Union propaganda. Kerry and the VVAW, Owen wrote, were essentially using “Americanized” Soviet propaganda to smear his own country’s troops.

All this sheds light on why John Kerry would smear the reputation of all Vietnam Veterans. Let’s hope someday he will fess up to his misdeeds the way his namesake Bob Kerry did. Bob Kerry admitted to taking part in a slaughter of more than an dozen unarmed villagers at Thanh Phong in 1967 during a CIA Phoenix Program operation.

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Bob Kerry along with some his fellow gallant warriors in Vietnam.

797 – Country Joe McDonald left an imprint on the Vietnam Era

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Country Joe and the Fish circa the Vietnam War Era

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Country Joe McDonald today

One of my favorite subjects for this podcast, the Vietnam Veteran News, is the musicians and their music of the era. According to the great humanities lecturer, Dr. Funkhouser, formerly of the University of Florida, music is an indescribable and mysterious thing that has an enduring effect on its listeners.

In this episode we will take a look at one of those Vietnam Era performers who is still making a difference today. His name is Joe McDonald and he was recently featured in a story found in The Boston Globe website titled: Country Joe McDonald, still bearing witness that was submitted by Matthew Guerrieri.

McDonald first saw the light of day in Washington, DC. His parents who were both members of the Communist Party relocated to California and young Joe grew up in El Monte. Before his parents became disillusioned with the Communist cause they named their son after Joseph Stalin, one of the most hated mass murderers in history. Young Joe joined the US Navy at the age of 17, served three years and then settled down in the Berkeley area to join the protest movement.

He formed up Country Joe and the Fish with fellow guitarist Barry Melton. Their biggest hit was “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” but he is best known to members of the Vietnam Era for his Vietnam War Song. The band became one of the more exploratory psychedelic acts of the late 1960s and some describe McDonald as one of the era’s most dedicated political conscience. McDonald saw his music as an alarm rather than a solution.

In the Mid 1970’s the band broke up and McDonald continued a solo career in promoting assorted causes. One cause was a renewed association with Vietnam Veterans with a particular on the contributions of military nurses.  He became an expert on Florence Nightingale and the history of nursing. That led to the creation of a one-man show about military nurses.

Joe McDonald remains relevant with his causes to this very day.

796 – Englishman Alastair Livingston fought with the Marines in Vietnam

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Alastair Livingston at November’s Remembrance Day Service at the NATO HQ in Pristina, Kosovo, along with the British Army Adviser to the General, Commanding the Kosovo Security Force, Lt Col Andy Layton

Not all the US Marines who served in the Vietnam War were from this county though most were. One exception was a remarkable Englishman named Alastair Livingston. His story is featured in this episode through a story in the Ilkley Gazette titled: War hero from Ilkley looks back on his service in Vietnam that was submitted by Annette McIntyre, a reporter for the publication. The occasion for the story was at November’s Remembrance Day Service at the NATO HQ in Pristina, Kosovo.

McIntyre relates Livingston’s story as follows: He was a young lad from Ilkley, North Yorkshire, UK who went to Canada and joined the army there. There was not enough action in the Canadian Army to suit the young lad from North Yorkshire so he moved south and joined up with the US Marines in 1968. Livingston became a Marine paratrooper and qualified as a Navy seal and on top of that he learned to speak Vietnamese. Naturally he ended up in Vietnam where he served almost three years with distinction. During his service in Vietnam he was highly decorated with awards including the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.

After the Vietnam War Livingston remained in the Marines and retired in 1988. Since then he has gone on to work in a variety of roles including peacekeeping, conflict prevention, human rights and reconstruction with organizations including the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the UK Government and various NGOs.

His work has taken him to war-torn areas including Kosovo, Croatia, Baghdad, Sinai, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Among other things he has helped protect the rights of minorities, overseen a unique central Asian mine-action co-operation project, and advised on elections in Kosovo.

Livingston’s response when asked if he had any regrets for going to Vietnam with the US Marines is: “Did I ever regret my service, there, in my almost three years of service, or at any other time in my career, military or civilian…no, not at all. I made my decisions and then moved on with my life…to regret having made a decision that then couldn’t be changed in hindsight, would be counter-productive.”

Alastair Livingston is a truly outstanding servant for all mankind.

795 – Agent Orange questions for the VA in 2017

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Agent Orange, vietnam veteran news, mack payneAs the year 2016 comes to a close and 2017 gets ready for its debut, one of the most asperous legacies of the Vietnam War – the use of Agent Orange – that high powered weed killer with such high expectations but with such dire unintended consequence will continue to dominate the attention of  the VA with much controversy and acrimony.

Agent Orange and its relationship with the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans has been featured on this podcast many times in the past. For years that special group of Vietnam Veterans have been seeking assistance for its many members who are suffering from diseases that have been recognized as be caused by exposure to the dioxins found in Agent Orange from the VA. The VA has remained adamant in its policy of refusal toward the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans as the advocates for benefits continue their struggle for equity in benefits.

The new year that will bring a change in National leadership, offers encouragement to the advocates for equity. A story on the ProPublica website titled: Long List of Agent Orange Decisions Awaits VA in 2017 that that was produced by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, and Mike Hixenbaugh of The Virginian-Pilot offers insight into the upcoming forks in the road the VA will approach in the near future.

One is whether to expand the list of diseases that are presumed to be linked to Agent Orange. Currently the VA recognizes 14 health conditions, including various cancers that are caused by exposure to Agent Orange. A federal panel of scientific experts said there is now evidence to suggest that Agent Orange exposure may be linked to bladder cancer and hypothyroidism. It also confirmed, as previous experts have said, that there is some evidence of an association with hypertension, stroke and various neurological ailments similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Despite new evidence of linkage, if past performance continues the VA will drag its feet as much as possible and hide behind funding excuses.

Another biggie is whether to make naval veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam eligible for benefits. this is the crux of the matter for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans.

Next is: Whether to extend coverage to service members who served along the Korean demilitarized zone during the Vietnam War and who say they were exposed, as well.

Last but definitely not least is the question of whether veterans’ exposure to Agent Orange can affect their descendants. This is without a doubt the most hideous of the lurking hazards related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Our country owes its veterans a solemn obligation of assistance when those veterans get sick as a result of something the country did while they were serving their country.

794 – The Healing Box Project helps veterans

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A few of The Healing Box Project participants with Dave Dunklee holding his guitar.

Many years ago I had a Professor in the Humanities Department at the University of Florida named Dr. Funkhouser. The one thing I remember him saying in one of his long lectures in Walker Auditorium was his characterization of music. He described it as a mysterious thing that has inscrutable effects on human beings. The story I am featuring on this podcast episode proves that theory out. It comes from The Charlotte Observer and is titled: Music project helps veterans coping with war memories that was submitted by Brittany Ruess of the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri.

C. J. Dunklee, viertnam veteran news, mack payne

C. J. Dunklee

Brittany tells about The Healing Box Project that was started by musician Dave Dunklee and his wife CJ. The Dunklees started The Healing Box Project at the Warrior Transition Unit in Fort Leonard Wood a few years ago, serving soldiers Dunklee described as “fresh off the battlefield.” Trying to cope with the wounds of war, music became part of their recovery process.

When the Warrior Transition Unit was closed down they wanted to go on with their work helping veterans even though they were not officially a part of the VA. Luckily they were contacted  by a peer specialist who invited them to continue The Healing Box Project at the Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital at Columbia, Missouri. Through the Program they give guitars and lessons to disabled Veterans. they give the joy of music through guitar playing. They use music to replace symptoms of PTSD and our motto is “the guitar is the box and healing begins with the first strum.” One of the primary goals of the Program is to prevent suicides.

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Dave Dunklee (on left) and a friend who presented him with a custom made guitar strap.

Today the Project is working with many Vietnam Veterans at Truman Memorial. Dunklee says: “When a veteran receives a guitar, the reaction is always the same. Maybe they haven’t smiled for a long, long time, but there’s always a smile.” And sometimes it’s like disbelief.”

You are encouraged to visit their website and discover more about this wonderful Project that is helping many Vietnam Veterans cope with the ravages of PTSD.

http://www.thehealingboxproject.org/aboutus

793 – Vietnam Vet Clarence Mellot’s gripping story

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Air Force Vietnam Vet Clarence Walter Reed Mellot

This is the first regular episode of this podcast, Vietnam Veteran News, to come to you via one of Bob Heil’s PRO series PR 40 Wide Frequency Response Dynamic Microphone. Our goal here at the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast is to present the best product possible to our subscribers and welcomed guest listeners. That is the main reason we upgraded our microphone to one of the best available in the world of broadcasting.

Using that high quality Heil PR 40 Microphone, I will feature the story of another Vietnam Veteran to help illustrate my judgment that the Vietnam Veteran Generation is as great as any that ever headed the call of duty from its country. That veteran is Clarence Walter Reed Mellot. His story was featured in The Casper Star Tribune in a piece titled: Master Sergeant Clarence Mellot, Cheyenne that was submitted by Gayle M. Irwin.

Clarence served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and he remained in the military until his retirement. After living all over the world during his Air Force career he settled down in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Among doing other things in his retirement, he’s volunteered at the Cheyenne VA Hospital for the past 12 years as much as his health would allow. The motivation to serve others at the VA resulted from the treatment he received when he was deathly ill in the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC years before. He had became ill as a result of his service in Southeast Asia and ended up undergoing several surgeries on his digestive tract and spent six months in Walter Reed Hospital.

He got so low in spirits while in the hospital, he did not want to go on living. As Clarence put it: “Friends I didn’t know would come to the door and visit with me and try to instill life into my defeated mind.”  Those wonderful acts of kindness to him in his time of need encouraged him to remain in the Air Force where he continued to work in air rescue doing his best to help others.

While in the hospital Clarence picked up on writing as a means of overcoming depression. It worked for him and he has since written nearly 3,000 poems, as well as a few books, including “My Heart’s Poetry.” A link to that book is provided with the recommendation you buy a copy and sample some of Clarence’s thoughts.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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792 – Merry Christmas from the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast

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Heil PR 40 Microphone

I come to you this Christmas Day with a happy heart. I discovered that Santa Clause was very good to me this year when I looked under the tree. In addition to all the toys and packages for  the younger ones I found there a package just for me. It turned out to be a Heil PR 40 Wide Frequency Response Dynamic Microphone to be used for this podcast. After talking to Santa about the Heil PR 40 and how valuable they are I began to realize why Elwood Blues traded the Cadillac “Blues Mobile” for a microphone while brother Jack was cooling his heels in the Cook County Jail.

The Podcast Answer Man, Cliff Ravenscraft, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

The Podcast Answer Man, Cliff Ravenscraft

When I started this podcast three years ago I set it up under the tutelage of the “Podcast Answer Man” Cliff Ravenscraft. Cliff seemed to master everything he ever tried with great success including podcasting. With podcasting he was and still is a big proponent of putting out a superior product both in content and sound quality. He recommended using a Heil PR 40 microphone for the best sound quality of a podcast. I figured such a successful podcaster like Cliff Ravenscraft  must know what he is talking about and I promptly followed his advice on microphones. After only three years and almost 800 broadcast podcast episodes I to the plunge and asked Santa Claus for a Heil PR 40 and he came through. From now on you will be hearing me through my new microphone.

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Bob Heil

Heil Microphones are top quality and I just had to know more about this product and in the process of learning more about it I discovered a very interesting story about a very sharp guy, Bob Heil. He was a very precocious young man growing up in the St Louis area who became a professional quality organ player at an early age. By the time he was fifteen years old he was playing in the biggest venues in St Louis.

He quickly became a sound expert and started a company manufacturing sound systems. His reputation and talents was so good he began providing sound systems for entertainers including: The Grateful Dead, The Who, The James Gang, Jeff Beck, ZZ Top, Humble Pie, Seals and Crofts, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Leslie West, J. Geils, Ike and Tina Turner, and Chuck Berry, Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton and Bon Jovi.

He left the entertainment business and In 1982 He and his wife, Sarah, started Heil Sound, a top notch manufacturer of quality microphones. It is a privilege and honor for this podcast to be heard through a microphone made by Bob and Sarah Heil.

Merry Christmas to you all from the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast.