Howdy peeps. I know I am supposed to be blogging about my life and books and marriage and blah blah blah but I just drafted a shorter version of a letter I have been working on for a few days--I think shorter is better--and did something I rarely do when I tell people to contact their lawmakers: tell them about my work. Because I know my sh*t. My mom is visiting (and making dinner so I can write this post) and I just told her she will need to cut and paste this letter tonight and send it to her representatives in Pennsylvania. She said: "but I already did that!" (Years ago.) Followed by: "Still?" Yes, still. Because the lost 74 of the USS Frank E. Evans are still not listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and today we have another house bill in Congress! Yippee! For those just tuning in: my book American Boys is about the only US warship lost in the Vietnam War and the ongoing efforts to have the men killed listed as those killed in the Vietnam War because that's why they were there to begin with: the Vietnam War. The DoD, which stands alone on this because the US Navy agrees with the families and survivors, has long said the men were killed OUTSIDE the combat zone. Fancy wording that essentially means their pay was not taxed by the IRS. Soooooo once again we are all getting screwed over taxes. Seriously. But seriously. This issue has been a slap in the face of Gold Star families, who we ought to remember this month, especially. Because Memorial Day is everyday to them. If you have a husband, kids, a brother, and/or a heart you can understand.
So here's my short and sweet. PLEASE cut and paste and send to your representatives. Thanks to the Anthrax scare of '02 it's best to e-mail them, which means it's easier for you. And if you are super bored... and want to help... send it to members of the House Armed Services Committee, which is reviewing it now. I have long worked with lawmakers' offices and my line is open. The time to get this done is now.
My name is… (Introduce yourself and where you live)…
I am writing in support of House Bill 5689, which directs the Secretary of Defense to add to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington the names of the 74 men killed on the USS Frank E. Evans. These men were killed on June 3, 1969 in an incident that had direct connection to the war effort. The ship, and all other U.S. vessels present, was awarded a Vietnam Service Medal for actions on that day. In 2017, the Department of Defense—with no explanation or notice—removed those medals from Navy records. I feel this essentially torpedoed the DoD’s position that these men were not killed in the war. This, after lawmakers and the U.S. Navy itself have long supported this effort. This issue has been set before you many times and many times, without explanation or adequate research, lawmakers such as yourself have rejected it. This, despite the information readily available. Why else would the DoD alter official Navy records?
I feel we owe it to the lost 74 of the USS Frank E. Evans and their families to include their name on the Wall. To continue to support a position that harms Gold Star families without investigating the matter fully is an affront to all servicemen and women who put their lives on the line in support of this country, and in matters that you support.
I encourage you to have your staff contact journalist Louise Esola, author of American Boys, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can help provide proof and documentation so that you can make an educated decision on this matter.