Owning the mental illness amongst us

Mental illness scares the shit out of me. The very term conjures up images of some crazed guy with wild, straggly hair and a demon-like smile of malevolence. Steven King kind of comes to mind when I think of someone who might be a little touched in the head. A Stephen King character, that is. Not Stephen King. Continue reading

My ‘Vietnam War Recall’ starts tomorrow

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, and more desolation. Some of these young men think that war is all glory but let me say . . . war is all hell.” 

  • American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman

Continue reading

9-11 is Our Generation’s ‘Day Of Infamy’

Like December Seventh, Nineteen Forty-One, “9-11” will go down in American history as a new generation’s day of infamy.

In my lifetime, it ranks up there with the horrific day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Continue reading

Recalling some cool summers in the army

Summer always served as a “new beginning” for me when I was in the army. I got drafted on the Third of June and did my Basic Training in the hot, dry air of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I can’t tell you how many push-ups I did during the two-month training session as the meanest drill sergeant I ever seen brought fire to my poor soul by running me everywhere and cussing me out to force me into fighting shape. Continue reading

A rant against disrespect, hurt & the war

Much of what I know about war was what I learned while playing as a kid. You know, using a stick or a broken branch from a tree, I’d pretend it was a rifle to shoot the bad guys who were out to get me and the rest of the good guys in my old neighborhood. Continue reading

Cause of All Wars Questioned in Confederate Flag Controversy

President Barack Obama may have raised an issue on all wars when he eulogized a fallen comrade on June 26, 2015, at the funeral for the pastor of the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

While never detracting from the valor that Confederate soldiers fought with in the Civil War, he offered a plain and simple truth.

The cause they fought for was wrong. Continue reading

It was me an enemy sniper was trying to kill

A Viet Cong sniper was trying to kill me. Some motherfucker hiding in the trees, the bushes, the triple-canopy jungle had just shot at my platoon. I thought he was shooting randomly, despite the debris from the ground, grassland and other tiny bits of rock that struck me from a bullet’s ricochets.

No. he was aiming at no one but me! It’s taken me more than forty years to figure that out. Continue reading

New bucket list headed by state of Alaska

North to Alaska!

That’s where I’m headed next week and I’ll start checking off the newest box of my “bucket list,” the list of things I want to do before I “kick the bucket.” Continue reading

Hoping for a lofty goal, I write a lot & often

(Question 2 on Hope)
You may also have experienced this kind of hope, (See https://contoveros.wordpress.com/?p=12505&preview=true) but not thought of it in those terms. Think of a time when you felt sure you were going to attain a lofty goal, even though the path to the goal was not apparent. That is the hope that comes from your being. Describe this feeling of certainty in your journal. – Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Experience (Feeling Hope)

I was a buck private in training as a soldier in Fort Dix, NJ, when I had a vision or what Zen Buddhists call a “satori” or moment of clarity of what I needed to do with my life.

I needed and wanted to write a book. Continue reading

Explosion shatters peace but calm prevails

Question 2 of 4 on “Feeling Peaceful”

Thinking of this same peaceful experience, imagine that feeling of calm becoming deeper and stronger within your soul to the point where nothing happening in the environment could shake it. Describe what that kind of peace would feel like physically, mentally and emotionally. How could this type of peace change your life? — Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Experience (Day 3 — “Feeling Peace”)

Well, it would be hard to imagine my peace in Vietnam being any better than what it was that day. It could have very easily been shattered by gunfire. Worse yet, the peace could have been destroyed with my heart and my soul wounded by something called friendly fire.

That’s what happened during another incident while leading men on a search and destroy mission in what we called the “bush.” I had called in mortar fire on a suspected enemy location, but one of the rounds fell on my squad. Five soldiers were injured and I thank God that none were killed.

 (Please see Part 1 at:https://contoveros.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/peace-found-inside-middle-of-Vietnam-war/ /)

Continue reading

Peace found inside middle of Vietnam War

(Part 1 of 2)
Recall a time when you felt calm and peaceful, even though the circumstances were not peaceful. Write down a description of that event, and describe how you were able to be calm in that situation. What was the source of this peacefulness if it didn’t come from outside? — Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Experience (Day 3 — “Feeling Peace”)

I had led my platoon in Vietnam for several months. We had encountered several fire-fights, but no one was killed or injured, thank God. But, you never knew what the next day would bring and so we were on edge, on the ready so to speak for anything that might have endangered us. Continue reading

Divine Mother, spare the Fem-in-’em now

Take ’em. Break ’em. Make ’em.

O Grand Master, it is your females that will save this species. It is through their power, their innate abilities that man will be saved. Compassion and love must rule the day again. And power must be crushed by the mallet of humility before any dare send another child into war that old men dream of winning as if playing games of adolescent ruffians. Continue reading

Truly Living May Just Be Worth Dying For

The thought of going to prison never bothered me. I’d survive and flourish behind bars where I’d have more than enough time to reflect and write which I have found is my true love in life.

No, I could kill without worrying about the consequences. It would be my first offense. I am certified as a Vietnam veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I don’t see any judge or jury putting me to death for the crime.

All of this went through my mind when I was waiting at the train platform and a rather tall, white guy walked in front of me. I was standing near the tracks. I was close enough and in line with others stranding on either side of me that I never thought someone could make their way between me and the tracks. But the man did. He walked around me. He stood directly in front of me. No one else stood that close. I recall thinking how totally inappropriate and rude his actions were.

That’s when I planned to kill him. Continue reading

Vietnam War veteran recalls his journey

Dealing with the Vietnam War becomes a little easier each time I write about it. I “desensitize” myself. I now see my actions as separate from the emotions I felt while a young soldier, as well as the feelings of guilt many veterans like me,  imposed on ourselves while readjusting to civilian life. It’s helpful when a high school student asks questions and you try to be honest and direct. Continue reading

Where is the boy I left home for the war?

I knew a boy

Who went to war

And left his home

Behind him.

I knew him well,

That boy was me

And now I cannot

Find him.

— A Vietnam veteran’s tweak of a World War II sailor’s song about war
(Photo of this young World War I “Doughboy” courtesy of greatwar.nl/oldsoldiers/lloydcleme… )

Pinned for a life above & beyond the call

While Neil Armstrong was taking a giant leap for all mankind, I had taken a small step toward adulthood one month after the moon landing, and I had no one to thank for it except my brother, who encouraged me to aim for the stars in becoming an officer and a gentleman in the Army of the United States of America. Continue reading

Omega opens doors to lost PTSD veterans

I didn’t want to go back to Omega Institute this year. Each time I travelled to this land of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, I’d get high from the holistic experience. But then I’d change into an Ichabod Crane feeling chased by the Headless Horseman who’d tell true life stories that caused so much pain I couldn’t hold it inside. Continue reading

Seeing a Veteran’s’ History Never Repeats

Do yourself a favor. Keep an eye out for a vet.

Actively seek out someone in your church, synagogue or temple and befriend him so that what happened in Philadelphia last week never happens again. Continue reading

Resolve to stop anger from feeding on me

Anger. It hits like a poison arrow causing me to drop what I’m doing and focus on the pain it inflicts. Continue reading

Open my Vessel for ALL Lights to Shine

Thank God for Buddhism. What’s that you say? I can’t have one in, and of, the other?

Are you telling this red-blooded American veteran that I cannot follow the teachings of the Buddha and still believe in the God of Abraham? Continue reading

Remembering warriors of all ages

“Warriors have been rewarded for their service or their families have been provided support, since the beginning of organized society. From the veterans of Egypt in the third millennium B.C. through the Crusaders of medieval Europe, to veterans of today, governments have compensated their military personnel or their survivors, for loss of life, wounds, injuries, or length of service in defense of the state. Continue reading

My Prayer to St. Francis of Assisi

I want to follow and not lead; give and not take; love and not hate.

Like you, I want to be a soldier of peace and not war; a kind and loving friend to the poor and a prodding yet mild abrasion to the rich. Continue reading

War is never the answer 11-11-11

On this Veterans Day, 11-11-11, what would you tell yourself if you could go back in time and greet that young man recently returned home from the war?

War is never the answer, but only a failure on all sides to reach an answer. Continue reading

These are true signs of our times

When I read the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were unfocused and without a coherent message, I took a closer look at them in Philadelphia, and disvovered some were disheveled street persons looking for handouts, and one a graduate school political science major spouting Marxist teachings.

They represented only one percent.

The 99 percent of the other protestors were mostly young, highly educated unemployed or underemployed men and women who got tired of the debt-ceiling fiasco and took to the streets to mobilize against the Tea Party followers. Continue reading

For the signs they are a’changing

(From Part I, These are true signs of our Times/)

The greatest protest of our generation is seeking change in all shapes and sizes. You can see it in the signs the demonstrators carry, writing the letters out really big with magic markers so that passersby need not squint to get the messages.

There is not just one message, but many, which all have one thing in common: a belief that our world can do better for all and not  just the few Continue reading

WHY I AM A DEMOCRAT

Why am I a Democrat?

I was born this way. No, that’s not right. I was raised this way. No, that’s not quite right either. I chose to be a Democrat. Continue reading

Don Quixote battles PTSD in Philly courts

I never felt more like Don Quixote than when I represented a woman charged with a crime.

And while I didn’t want it, I’d feel called to “champion” her, even when it cost me my reputation, my sanity and my very career as a trial attorney. Continue reading

Light shines here from a tip of the candle

‘Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle,’ illuminating the way for the whole nation.

If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war.

And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.

Thich Nhat Hanh