A former Midshipman, now a retired navy officer, emailed me after discovering this blog. He reminded me that the Glenn family, my four children, my wife, and I, sponsored Midshipmen from the Naval Academy from 1976 to 1979. We invited the mids to our house for weekends away from the gruel of academy life as they prepared to become navy officers upon graduation.
It was a rough time in my life. I was struggling with Port-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) from my years in Vietnam supporting units in combat and escaping under fire when Saigon fell in April 1975. My family had lived in Saigon and escaped twenty days before the city fell. They talked freely with the mids about their life in Vietnam. I didn’t. I still couldn’t talk about what I had lived through.
I wanted to invite the mids into our home because of my love for military men and women, a feeling that still lives in me today. And these young men, aged 18 to 22, were among the finest I had ever met. I still remember my heartbreak when one of them was killed in an auto accident.
Working with the mids was the beginning of my volunteering. In subsequent years I helps AIDS patients, the homeless, dying people in a hospice, and sick and dying soldiers in a VA hospital. I learned, starting with the mids, that when I focused my attention on others, my unbearable memories receded. It still works today.