A few typos, fixed. I also learned we don't use gunpowder any longer, but cordite, so change the smell of gunpowder to the smell of cordite. Then, when I checked on that, I learned we don't use cordite anymore, either. One writers' blog simply said to use gunpowder and not get too crazy. I'm leaving it at gunpowder.
One of the readers who purchased the story noticed that the earlier version I sent him has changed somewhat, and wanted an updated copy. Yes, there have been some edits, mostly brought on by corrections readers have suggested. I have the list of readers who purchased the story, and will be sending out a final update within a few weeks of the end of the story, after all the final edits are finished.
Many thanks to all the veterans who have read this story and sent their thanks and appreciation. It is very fashionable now to thank veterans for their service, but I grew up in a time when the opposite was true, when servicemen were cursed and spit upon. I respected you then as much as I do now. Thank you for your service.
There are going to be some who will simply not believe it possible that one part of the Army could consider Grim dead, while another part knows he is alive. One of my editors thought this might be some sort of conspiracy. On the other hand, as doctors are taught in medical school, if you hear hooves, don't go looking for zebras. The military abounds with inefficiency. In the September issue of the Proceedings of the Naval Institute, in the cover story, <u>Data and Design</u>, is a section on relevant personnel issues with the US Navy:
"…Sailors must access one system, BUPERS On-Line, for personnel info and awards, another (DFAS) for pay, a third (NSIPS) for leave, and yet another (PRIMS) for physical training and medical data-not to mention hard-copy records such as awards, fitness reports, and orders, which must be entered manually by administrative staff. No system speaks to any other, and if any data is incorrect or needs to be duplicated, sailors need to call a service center and wait their turn on hold…"
I would have a hard time believing the Army is any better.
Could the Army actually lose the paperwork for the MOH? It has happened before. During the Battle of Ganjgal in Afghanistan, September 8, 2009, both Corporal (now Sergeant) Dakota Meyer and Captain William Swenson performed actions worthy of the MOH, however Swenson's was delayed because his paperwork was lost in the Army's email system for two years. This shit really happens.
I deliberately timed Grim's MOH so that it occurred before Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta's (Afghanistan.) I remember the hoopla in the news when Giunta received his, and the accompanying publicity tour. Much of this was because Giunta was the first living recipient since Vietnam. Most of those since then have had much smaller tours.
Finally, could Grim be helped by meeting his old squad mates? This was the biggest question I had on the story, and I ran it past a psychologist with PTSD treatment experience. His response - "The visit by the two survivors of Whiskey would have made a huge difference for Grim's PTSD, exactly as your story depicts. Jose and Bob's reaction to seeing Grim: "You're really alive!" contrasted so much with Grim's feelings of shame it caused Grim cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance happens when two perceptions collide. Jose and Bob's joy at finding Grim alive cannot coexist with Grim's shame in Grim's world view. The only way Grim can cope with this dissonance is to change one or the other. His two buddies won't change their view, so Grim has to change his view of himself - giving up his self-shame."
Happy New Year!