Two Words That Still Change My Life

When I watched the war in Vietnam on TV news, I didn’t realize the doctor I had read about had worked there. I never imagined that I would ever go there. And I never imagined that war would help me meet my husband, and create a family that brings me joy every day.

I’ve shared this post several times, and every time I’ve heard from someone, usually unexpected, who tells me the story speaks to them in a similar way.Like

  • A couple I’ve never met in Australia
  • A long ago friend I had not talked to since we were teenagers
  • A young mother who was a former work colleague.
  • One of my best childhood friends

I didn’t know  any of their stories before, but learning we share a similar bond brought new meaning to our relationship.

If you are someone who shares a story similar to ours, I hope you will contact me. My husband and I would love to join our hearts to yours wherever you are. Perhaps these words will change your lifves too. .

a couple sitting at a table by a window with an ocean view

Here is the post, originally called

Two Words That Changed My Life

In college I participated in Chi Alpha, a faith-based student group. When I started dating  a young man of a different faith, he enjoyed coming to the gatherings with me and my friends liked him. We were fond of each other, but his feelings grew stronger and more serious than mine.

To be fair, I ended the relationship. We parted amicably but he left our group; it was awkward for both of us. Although the breakup was best of us both, I grieved  the loss of our friendship.

One evening several of us were talking when a new member of our group joined us. We knew little about him other than he had recently left the Army and started attending the university.

He looked at me and said, “Where is John tonight?” (not his real name) No one spoke as everyone looked from me to him and back to me. Apparently he was the only one who didn’t know we had broken up.

Finally, one of the girls softly explained, “They aren’t dating anymore.”

Everyone remained silent, I suppose assuming I was upset . I wasn’t upset but I realized everyone else was uncomfortable. I didn’t want our new friend to feel bad about the mistake, so I tried to make light of it. I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head.

“That’s right,” I said smiling.  “I’m available.”

With that, everyone, including me, laughed. Thinking back now, I wonder why I said that. It was out of character for me, a confirmed introvert, and besides, I did not need or want another romantic relationship. I was planning to attend medical school, and romance did not fit into that plan.

However, the young man took me seriously, calling me a few days later to ask for a date. And despite my reluctance to become involved, I said yes.

“What harm could it do?” I thought. “Why sit in the dorm alone on Friday night?”

Two more words

That night I learned about Raymond’s past. He had served for three years in the Army . He had already earned a bachelor’s degree and was attending graduate school with his veteran’s benefits. I casually asked if he had been stationed overseas. He said yes- he had served in Germany and in Vietnam. I did not realize those words also would change my life.

soldiers at a remote military base
various scenes from the firebase where Raymond was stationed in VietNam; I understood nothing about what happened there.

“Welcome home and thank you for your service.”

The public’s anger at our government for pursuing an unpopular war was often directed at the service members who believed they were doing the right thing by serving their country. They were blamed, and unfortunately felt shame for the mistakes made by those in authority.

On the 11th day of November every year, we in the United States pause to honor the men and women who have served in our armed forces. We call it Veterans Day. March 29 has been set aside as a day to recognize those veterans who served during the United States mission to VietNam.

Military veterans today are held in high regard, and receive public and private recognition in many ways. This was not the case 40-50 years ago, when Vietnam veterans like my husband were not respected or appreciated.

The public’s anger at our government for pursuing an unpopular war was often directed at the service members who believed they were doing the right thing by serving their country. They were blamed, and unfortunately felt shame for the mistakes made by those in authority.

When called upon, they served their country but their country did not serve them well. Perhaps saddest of all, they received little if any welcome when they came home.

Vietnam veterans statue in Washington, D.D.

A national monument honoring Vietnam veterans now stands in Washington, D.C., as well as memorials elsewhere, like the one in Angel Fire New Mexico. There is a travelling “Wall” , a replica of the one in the nation’s capital.

a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall with an American flag and a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers
a travelling replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. visits towns throughout the United States

When my husband wears a cap or shirt identifying him as a veteran, strangers will come to him and thank him for serving. Sometimes they will ask about his service experience, especially if they are also a veteran.

Fellow veterans always offer a hand, saying “Welcome home.”

A ceremony honoring a fallen soldier at the Vietnam veterans memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico

We meet relatives of service members who eagerly share their loved one’s story. Sometimes, it is a story of one who did not come home. These stories touch our hearts and we walk away choked up and silent.

To veterans and active service members-Welcome home, thank you for your service.

one veteran’s story

My husband, Raymond Oglesby, wrote a personal account of his military experience, at this link

Three Servicemen, Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica

From bullets to blessings-one man’s journey to recovery from war

I didn’t want to ever go to Vietnam again when I came home in 1972 after a one-year tour of duty with the United States Army. I was stationed with the Americal Division, 3/18 Field Artillery Battalion near Tra Bong, a major village located about 25 miles west of Chu Lai, the headquarters of the Americal Division, on “China Beach” at the South China Sea.

Raymond published a book about his combat experience in Vietnam. You can read it on any Amazon Kindle E-reader or a free Kindle app on any device.

Battle for Tra Bong Vietnam Effects and Aftermath (Kindle Edition)

sharing the HEART of health

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Dr. Aletha