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Military-LiveHi I’m Jack Farley, a disabled Vietnam vet whose story will be portrayed on the National Memorial Day Concert Sunday, May 29, on PBS. Ask Me Anything

May 29th 2016 by Jack-Farley • 6 Questions • 1080 Points

I’m Jack Farley. I served in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam. After falling under fire, I lost my leg above the knee, and with it, the dream of the life I had planned for myself. My new normal included physical pain, grief for what might have been and the struggle to find a new path. In time, I continued my work as a lawyer and became a Federal court judge, working on veterans’ benefits. I also volunteered my time to work with other amputees from Vietnam and every conflict since through Iraq and Afghanistan. To this day, I still work with disabled vets who are amputees, teaching them how to ski. This story and more will be shared on the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS, Sunday, May 29, at 8pm (check local listings). For more on PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert. Ask Me Anything

Proof photo: https://www.dropbox.com/s/q1zw4n6uqk1v8ma/IMG_0617%20%281%29.JPG?dl=0

I am finished with the AMA now. Thank you so much for your questions!

This was my first experience with AMA and I am thrilled at the quality of the questions. I'll be looking out at all of you tonight during the telecast on PBS of the National Memorial Day Concert. It is okay if you wave back.

Tune in to the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS, tonight, May 29, at 8pm.

Q:

What's the most inspirational story you've seen of all the people you've met?

A:

I see inspirational stories daily. One in particular involves Brendan Morocco who lost all four limbs. About three years ago, he underwent two arm transplants. He can push his wheelchair, shoot baskets (he is no Steph Curry), and is working everyday increasing his dexterity and agility.


Q:

Contrasting the 1960s and today, what is most different in how government and society respond to people with disabilities? And what would you most like to see in this response moving forward?

A:

The most significant difference is the change in attitude brought about by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). New buildings could not be built and changes could not be made to existing buildings without full consideration of the impact on people with disabilities. I think that elevated the national conscience on that issue. I think it is important not to define people on the basis of their disability. For example, I resist the characterization of myself as an "amputee". I am a person who happens to have an amputation.


Q:

How does the healthcare experience you had compare that with that of soldiers coming home today?

A:

In a world of combat veteran amputees, my opinion is that they receive the finest care available anywhere in the world today. When we started the Amputee Center of Excellence at Walter Reed, the plan was to treat all amputees in that center and to collect and train the finest doctors, nurses, therapists, and prosthetists available anywhere. It soon became clear that Walter Reed did not have enough room so a program was created at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. A third center was later opened at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. All three centers provided and provide state-of- the-art medical care and rehabilitation. Perhaps the biggest difference between medical care today and the past, is that the Department of Defense has undertaken the mission of rehabilitation. And the proof of the success of that mission is in the numbers: of almost 1600 amputees, over 300 remained on active duty, and over 50 returned to Iraq or Afghanistan. I benefited from awesome care by dedicated professionals during my 16 months at Walter Reed from 1969 to 1970. I'm sure virtually all of today's veterans and patients will say the same.


Q:

Two part question: as a vietnam vet, do you feel honored that society has been trying to make right the unwelcome feeling that many of your brothers felt when they returned home originally?

When a person like Frank Lucas (drug dealer who allegedly smuggled drugs in soldiers coffin's) gains fame for his criminal career, do you feel that society is hopelessly backward? Ie: we elevate the wrong people to pedestals?

A:

Part one, absolutely. The country learned a vital lesson after Vietnam and it is wonderful to see all the support that our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are receiving. As for part two, I really can't speak to that.


Q:

How realistic are the war movies compared to real life?

A:

I touched on that issue in an earlier response but let me add one more comment. "Born on The Fourth of July" is the story of Ron Kovik who is from Massapequa, New York. I am also from Massapequa and witnessed some of the events depicted in the movie, not the battle scenes but the bar scenes. The movie did a pretty good job.


Q:

First, thank you for your service. I am currently a Cadet Airmen and look foward to many more years of helping out. Do you feel the way that the Vietnam War is shown in present day film reflects accurately how it actually was?

A:

And thanks for your service! Vietnam was the first "instamatic" war and it appeared nightly on every newscast in the country. Some of the official descriptions, it turns out, may have been a bit fudged but the cameras didn't lie. As for movies, Platoon, for example, depicted scenes that I'm sure did occur but they did not all happen in one 24 hour period. I once asked Hal Moore, author of "We Were Soldiers Once and Young", how close he thought the Mel Gibson movie was to real life. His response was, 80%. Interestingly, that's the same figure that one of the survivors of "Black Hawk Down" used about that movie.