Teddy Ritchie is a Vietnam veteran who says the scars of war did not show up until decades after his service.
"My eyeball probably looks like a baseball it has been sowed up so many times," said Mr. Ritchie referencing the half dozen surgeries he has endured that failed to restore his sight. Mr. Ritchie says he started losing his eyesight almost a decade ago. He praised The Department of Veterans Affairs for its work to help him cope with a disability that developed late in life.
Mr. Ritchie has devoted much of his free time lately to spreading the word about how the V.A. can help military veterans facing similar challenges. He offers the following numbers as a good place to start: (423) 979-2979.
In addition to our on camera interview, Mr. Ritchie also took time to answer the following ten questions that offer a deeper glimpse at his life both in and out of the military.
1. What one person influenced you most in life?
My high school football Elizabethton coach Tom Puegh. He tried to instill hard work and he had faith in me. Even after he left school he was interested in my future.
2. Do you feel honored and respected for serving your country?
More so now than when I first came home from Vietnam.
3. How can people thank you for your service?
Just being considerate of the blind and helping any veteran that they can.
4. How do you honor your fellow service men and women?
By showing them respect and helping when I can including my outreach efforts through the VA.
5. How do you think this generation of service men and women is different or similar to yours?
The have a more professional Army. They have to serve multiple tours and there is no draft.
6. What influence did your military service have on the rest of your life?
It made me thankful for everyday that I have the freedom to come and go and do what I want. You don't realize it until you see how other people live.
7. Does your family have a history of military service?
I'm one of five brothers and three of us were in the service.
8. Would you encourage younger generations in your family to join the service?
Yes. I think they did a big injustice when they did away with the draft. The military helps you learn respect other people and rules. Two years of service for every young person would be a good thing.
9. How has your opinion of war changed?
The news media has too great an influence. I think war should be fought by soldiers and it shouldn't be up for public opinion and scrutiny every day.
10. How did your military experience shape your faith?
I have always had strong faith in a supreme being and my military service strengthened that. It is amazing what you can do and what you can live through when you have to.