The Honorable Allen Clark, a decorated combat veteran who lost both legs in Vietnam, has written two books that capture the Vietnam war perfectly and his challenging journey home.
His book Valor in Vietnam, 1963-1977 Chronicles of Honor, Courage and Sacrifice should be on the shelf of every graduate of military colleges at all levels.
Allen is a proud graduate of West Point, the “Long Gray Line,” and his work gives extremely interesting insights into the personal experiences and courageous actions of those engaged in combat.
However, equally important at the Senior War College level of understanding war, the book makes an important contribution in showing, not telling, what it was really like during some very hard days, the Vietnam War years, for those in uniform.
The reason why the first-person stories resonate so well in Valor in Vietnam is because there is a companion book Wounded Soldier, Healing Warrior which is Allen Clark’s personal journey home from horrendous combat wounds to reaching another achievement:
The highest level of service to America, by having a Senate Confirmed Presidential Appointment made by President Bush to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
By reading both books, readers can better understand how valuable military service can be to those entrusted with the sacred mission of the VA motto-“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan” (Abraham Lincoln).
In this time of dereliction of their duty by some very nasty and grossly incompetent Veteran Administration (VA) senior leaders, Allen’s work gives hope that good people can also make a difference for the greater good of all Veterans.
In bringing focus to war and physical courage, his works also bring focus to the moral and ethical courage currently shown to be lacking with many of those entrusted with helping Veterans.
Both books bear witness to the great strength of America because there are many, many more Allen Clarks then the charlatans who have been gaming the VA system for their personal gain.
On this eve of Veterans Day 2015 both works will stand the test of time for every future day in America not just one special set aside day.
Ed Timperlake is the former Principal Director, Mobilization Planning and Requirements/OSD in President Reagan’s Administration, and the first Assistant Secretary, Congressional and Public Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs.