Rafael Lopez is my uncle through marriage. He is married to my mother’s maternal aunt. Rose and Rafael have three children and seven grandchildren. He lives in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
He was born in Aquadilla, Puerto Rico. When he was two years old, he moved to Spanish Harlem. He went to high school there. To my surprise, Rafael’s brother was a marine. Rafael was not drafted. He entered the marines because of his brother.
At first when he went into the recruiter’s office, he was too small. He weighed only 107 lbs, so before he could join he had to bulk up. Rafael did his basic training in Parris Island. Rafael Lopez served two years in the military in the Vietman war. Those two years were enough to affect his whole entire life to this day. Rafael was a rifleman. He served in infantry. He also witnessed the deaths of his friends. He served the frontlines leading him to seeing all the death and destruction. Rafael was in favor of the war, at first.
Rafael said his discontent for the war started when his friends started dying. One of his friends was snipered right in front of him. He greatest upset was the "dirty" lieutenant who lead his men into traps and other dangerous situations that could be avoided. The traps lead to the death of his men by friendly fire. Rafael said he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The va did not help at all the psychologist would talk to him no one helped me. He broke his wrist and he said they barely helped him then imagine for something not physical or tangible.
He could not sleep, hostile, and paranoid. He said he had trouble showing affection to his wife and newly born daughter whom was one at the time. He even said his daughter looked Vietnamese. He said he did not like when people would creep up on him he would swing automatically. He also had troubles with loud noises. His troubles did not only lie with his family but with protesters as well. He did not mind protest, but he does not like when people wave the flag of Northern Vietnam. He felt they were supporting the people who were killing Americans. He seen some of his friends die in front of him. He felt people do not care about the soldiers even now.
He feels today people still do not care about the soldiers. His does not belive society cares about soldiers or their health.