In four deployments as an Army combat medic to some of the most dangerous corners of Iraq and Afghanistan, Joe Carney had seen the worst of war — bullet wounds, severed limbs, shrapnel. He saved lives amid bombs and gunfire, his emergency room often a patch of dirt in the desert or a rocky mountainside. None of that mattered when he left the Army three years ago.
When Donald Siefken drove up to the Seattle VA hospital ER with a broken foot, all he asked for was a little help getting inside. Instead, a hospital employee who answered Siefken’s cell phonecall told him to call 911 himself, then hung up on him, Siefken said.
Taps is 24 notes that can make the toughest soldier cry. It’s a musical recognition of a life ended, a goodbye that hangs in the air as friends and family wipe their tears, look up and know they must live the rest of their lives without someone.
Francis G. Corcoran enlisted at age 18, became a Green Beret, and volunteered to serve in Vietnam, where he received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for valor after saving comrades' lives by disarming a bomb at great risk to himself. But his name never appeared on the gleaming black granite wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington — though he died in 1967 at age 39 from an illness contracted in Vietnam.