Posted by Tony Parziale on Dec 03, 2019

The Vietnam war started in 1955 and it was over in 1975. Many of us grew up during those turbulent years.   I was born in 1959 and grew up during that era. I graduated from high school in 1977. The Vietnam War was going on for virtually all of my childhood.

Back then, the draft was in the news every day. There were protests to the draft; there was the burning of draft cards. Young men moved to Canada to avoid the draft. Unlike World War II, the Vietnam War lacked public support and there seemed to be no directive from the United States to actually win the war. The country was unsure of its purpose. It seemed like such a waste of young lives. Our country was in turmoil.

My friends and I grew up thinking that we would either get drafted; go to college and work for grades good enough to be excused from the draft; sign up for ROTC, or move to Canada. The war started before I was born and the draft ended when I was a sophomore in high school. 58,220 young men were lost during the 20-year Vietnam War.  My family and I were fortunate during the Vietnam era. No-one who was close to my family was killed in action. There was someone who we knew who was wounded.
 
We’re fighting a bigger war right now. It’s affected many of the people whom we know. It’s affected our family, friends, co-workers and our community. It’s the Opioid crisis. We all know about it and talk about it. We tend to focus on treatment. While we need to treat those who are addicted, we also need to prevent these drugs from getting into our communities.
 
All of our children are just one bad decision away from killing themselves. I’m not just talking about teenagers. I’m talking about young adults who are in their twenties and thirties. The numbers are staggering!
 
Think about this: 58,220 young people died over a twenty-year period in Vietnam. Compare that with 68,557 young people who died of an Opioid overdose in 2018 alone. We need treatment, but more important, we need to shut down the supply! We need to stop this poison from getting into our communities from wherever it’s coming from. This is not a political topic. This is a war that thousands and thousands of young adults are losing. Families are being devastated and destroyed.
 
Wherever these drugs are coming in from, it needs to be stopped. Everyone, regardless of any affiliations need to come together to stop this influx of poison that is taking away our young adults. It’s happening in numbers that are greater than any casualties of war. We need to stop the supply without concern for politics and without compromise.  During the entire Vietnam War era, I personally knew one person who was wounded: In the last seven years, I knew six young adults who were killed by a non-prescription Opioid overdose. I’ve tried to comfort six families who were my family members; close personal friends and co-workers. They all lost adult children to Opioid overdoses.
 
When will enough be enough?
 
Last year, I wrote a message about someone very close to me who passed on at age thirty-six. He died from an overdose. This past Friday, I went to the wa​ke of a thirty-year old young man who worked for me a few years back. He had more talent and more going for him than most people could ever hope for. He grew up in Skillman, in a wonderful family… He could have been a great man… but for one bad decision….
 
Yours in Rotary,
Tony Parziale
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