Veterans Forty Years After the Fall of Saigon, My Brother Bill

Jon Wolfman’s Open Call for our recollections of the veterans we’ve encountered in our lives comes to me at a time of coincidence.  I am two weeks into living in motels in Texas for the sole purpose to begin the process of trying to determine what, if any, services the Veteran’s Administration may be able to provide for my older brother at the end of his life.

My big brother Bill never served in Vietnam.  He enlisted in 1962 and served in Germany.  The closest he came to combat was three weeks of methamphetamine saturated DEFCON 3 status during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he manned an artillery emplacement on the German - Czechoslovakian border 200 meters opposite a division of Soviet tanks.

While President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nakita Khrushchev brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, my brother was dug in next to a 155mm Howitzer spotting camouflaged Russian tanks hiding in the woods.  He was always a little bit crazy, but after he finished his four year enlistment and returned from Germany, he slept with a gun under his pillow for the better part of a year.

Eventually he got on with his life but never really got out on the other side of it.  He was a hard working, hard drinking oil patch redneck who worked off shore in the Gulf of Mexico and partied hearty every time he hit the beach.  He was in and out of jail more than once, but with the help of our parents and two wives, he managed to survive.

All that took its toll and in his early sixties Bill manifested symptoms of early onset dementia / Alzheimer’s disease.  That and a bout with throat cancer forced his early retirement and after the sudden death of his second wife from brain cancer, he was once more on his own.  By the fall of 2010 some unsavory people had borrowed/stolen his car, run up hundreds of dollars in long distance charges on his phone number and forged checks on his account at the local bank which brought me back into his life in January 2011 as his financial and medical caretaker.

Me and Bill 2011

At our father’s request my younger brother Rick had taken financial and medical responsibility for our parents in 1998 and twelve years into that experience, he asked me to handle Bill’s care.  It made sense to me so I stepped up to the plate.

Four years later the time has come to make plans for Bill’s care over the few remaining years that he may survive while dementia – Alzheimer’s progressively destroys what remains of his brain and central nervous system.  Judging from the symptoms and behaviors that our parents presented, I estimate that Bill has from five to ten years left to live, but over the past year it’s become clear that he can no longer live on his own.  Thanks to his Landlady, who is an angel in disguise, he’s managed to make it on his own over these past four years; but it’s clear that he’s becoming too much of an imposition for her to continue working with us to sustain him.  It’s time to pull the plug and move him into assisted living before something goes south and the State of Texas gets involved.

Today I’m sitting in a motel room a few miles from his trailer house, getting ready to go to his doctor’s office to collect copies of his medical records for the VA Release of Information office so that we can make the next step to determine what resources may be available to him for assisted living, nursing home care and hospice.  We’re going to drive to Austin tomorrow morning and with any luck we’ll have some answers within the next week or two, so that we can make plans for the rest of 2015.  One way or another we’re going to take care of him, but the specifics of how, when and where remain to be seen.

Wish us luck, I’ll keep you informed.

Except for attributed photos and text, all content is copyrighted © 2014 JKM (an apparently ineffectual boilerplate joke?)

Views: 147

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on March 23, 2015 at 12:39pm

I am so grateful for this.  R/R

Comment by Arthur James on March 23, 2015 at 12:41pm


Vet Center

Outreach -

They were started

by Max Cleland,

under Carter.


Max C was in the First

Air Calvary - Me too, and

he knew many Veterans

would not enter a trypical

Veterans VA Hospital. The

VET CENTERS are better

Advocacy - Not inside VA

Facilities. Readjustment 

Counseling Services - I

did a Fed Gig there, and

we'd go into prisons, etc.,


Check Vet Centers Out?

Comment by koshersalaami on March 23, 2015 at 12:50pm

Thanks for this post and I wish you luck in finding a solution. 

Comment by nerd cred on March 23, 2015 at 12:55pm

Best wishes for everything to go well. Bill's fortunate to have you, cute geezers that you both are.

Comment by Arthur James on March 23, 2015 at 1:07pm


nerd cred flirt?

Jesus and Vets

died in the sad

Army Calvary?


Max lost a few

limbs. Seriously,


Are FED, but NOT

like Vain FED NO




Work with VA

but have Unique

Advocacy Roles.

Comment by alsoknownas on March 23, 2015 at 2:16pm

Art...stop it. HA!


Good luck to you and Bill. He's lucky to have a brother that cares and can handle himself when faced with adversity.

You're hardly pulling the plug though. Give yourself a nod.

Comment by Arthur James on March 23, 2015 at 2:24pm


also known as?

Stop what? Ya

remind me of

a guy in jail.


He went on a

date, and She

Said: Stop! No

Stop It, Stop!


She kept screamin.

"Stop, No Stop, and

he thought She was

saying " no stop."

and She called cops.

He in penitentiary

for no stoppin' sax

advices in back of

mom's car on his

date with music

teacher. He serve

time and is viewed

as pervert sax player.

Comment by Abrawang on March 23, 2015 at 6:59pm

That's a hell of a situation to deal with jmac.  But it's an artful recounting for the vets OC.

Comment by Rosigami on March 24, 2015 at 12:07am

With you, your brother is in good hands. Best of luck.

Comment by M. C. Sears on March 24, 2015 at 4:28am
Hope all works out


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