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Mitch Albom: 'Vietnam Vet Deserves a Friendlier Farewell'

ICTMN Staff
3/25/13

On Sunday, March 24, Mitch Albom, the award-winning Detroit Free Press columnist and best-selling author of Tuesdays With Morrie, wrote about a Vietnam veteran who recently passed away, alone and homeless. The vet, who served with honor as a Marine in Vietnam, was living on the mean streets of downtown Detroit, struggling with alcohol and poverty and confined to a wheelchair. As Albom asks, "Does this sound familiar?"

For too many vets, it does. This is especially true for Native vets. As ICTMN has reported, the 2010 Veteran Homelessness supplemental assessment report to Congress indicated a disturbing statistic that showed that American Indian and Alaska Native veterans who are poor are two times more likely to be homeless than American Indian and Alaska Native non-veterans who are poor

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 300,000 vets are homeless on any given night. Here are excepts from Albom's poignant column on one of these men; read the full article here.

 

If you knew Sanderious Crocker, please read this.

He died.

He was 67. Folks called him Sam. He was living in poverty in downtown Detroit. A Vietnam veteran who was seriously wounded, he'd been homeless for a while. He struggled with alcohol. Maybe you know this. Maybe you don't. Maybe you lost touch. Maybe you wanted to.

Whatever the case, you should know that Sam's body had been sitting at a Detroit morgue for a week before a friend called me and asked whether there was a way to find his family -- any family -- because a soldier shouldn't die alone and neglected.

He left behind his papers. I am looking at his discharge form now. It says he served four years in the Marine Corps, in 1964-68. It says he earned badges for pistol and rifle marksmanship. It says he won several medals.

Under "Character of Service" is one word:

"Honorable."

...

Maybe you knew Sam. Maybe you didn't. Maybe you feel bad for his ending. Maybe you don't. I can't sit here and tell you Sam was a great man or even a good one. But I do know he served when his country called, and he paid a price, and the military sent him off with the word "honorable."

Maybe we should do the same.

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Comments

Jim Dumas
Jim Dumas
Submitted by Jim Dumas on
As a Vietnam vet, yes, you're right...on all counts. We never showed the difference between Native and Non Native...we ALL bled red. To many of my brothers and sisters, were used and when we couldn't preform anymore, discarded like so much trash. No, we weren't perfect...but we had our "ghosts" that we coudn't outrun...the knowledge at 18 or 19 years old that we could get "use" to taking a life. They taught us how to kill, but never how to turn it off, or to live with it. We only had each other, because no one else understood what we were going thorugh. I didn't "know" Sam, but I see him in the face of every brother and sister in arms, without a home...without a family...without hope. We did what we thought was right, regardless of what this country thought at the time. We looked out for each other, because no one else would. This country took a lot from us, both Native and Non Native...they took our youth, our health, but they couldn't take our PRIDE. To Sam: I'm sorry brother, that we weren't there to see you off, as you made your crossing. You will be loved and missed here. I was Army, but rest easy and set a round up for us, when we make our way home. HOOORAY!!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
This is shameful. We send F-16 gets to Egyp by the dozen and we have homless Vet. I surved during Sam's time in the Army at the same time. I worked with some of Americas finest the Marine Corp. RIP My brother in arms.

Bob Webber USA SF's picture
Bob Webber USA SF
Submitted by Bob Webber USA SF on
I surved in Vietnam at the same time Sam did. I did work with the 2nd Marine recon Batlion in 1967. What A shame, we send many F-16 to Egyp costing Millons and we have homless men of honor, Vetrans. RIP my brother in arms. God Bless

DORIS DEANE's picture
DORIS DEANE
Submitted by DORIS DEANE on
SAM , I THANK-YOU FOR THE FREEDOMS YOU HELPED GIVE OUR NATION . MY WISH FOR NOW IS PEACE , THE PEACE I'M SURE YOU WERE SEARCHING FOR DURING YOUR FEELINGS OF HOPELESSNESS.AFTER ALL YOU AS A HUMAN-BEING DESERVE MORE THAN ABSOLUTE NOTHING .FORGIVE YOUR FAMILY FOR THEY NO KNOW BETTER . BLESS YOU !
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