I LOVE THIS PHOTO. It was taken recently on the American River in northern California. If you look a minute, it's easy to figure out some of what's going on in it.
The veteran on the right is a retired airline captain who once was a top gun Navy fighter-pilot, flying from aircraft carriers off Vietnam. When he and his generation of heroes came home, theirs was not a warm welcome. In fact it was downright hostile. Many of these veterans nevertheless recovered, got on with their lives---though some did not----became successful at what they did.
However, they never forgot the chilly reception they received when they returned to America as veterans of an unpopular war that was essentially lost in the mainstream media.
Today as a result, some of these men of Vietnam and earlier wars, are making concerted efforts to help many soldiers, especially the physically and emotionally wounded, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Their support has taken many forms, like Wounded Warriors Project. It's turning many dreadfully lonely, lost young veterans into men who find fresh opportunities, new skills and interests and experience a fresh sense of camaraderie and mentor relationships with their elder vet brethren.
No one does this better than the man above, along with other Vietnam vets who are still young and active, yet have decades of life experiences after coming home in the 60s and 70s. The veteran above, aside from his other accomplishments, has become a master fly fisherman. He and several groups he works with takes young vets out on rivers and lakes teaching them to cast, fly fish and tie flies. These trips reacquaint them with the healing qualiities in the great outdoors. The young guys love every minute.
Recently, they went to the American River where they fished, camped and did guy-things for three days.
No injury, no false prosthesis, no emotional trauma excludes any young vet from such an event if they want to attend. Getting these kids outdoors, refocusing their pain or hostility or lostness to fishing and hiking has proven extremely beneficial to their healing processes.
I respect men who use their talents, time and resources---and even their past pain and rejections--to help others have an easier time of it, than they did.
And a good time was had by all.
God bless our veterans of all ages. God bless America. And a good man who uses his good influence well is hard to find.....but not last week on the American River.