This is a friend of ours. We work together in the Military Moms Organization in our area. She lost her son who had just returned from Iraq. Please pass this on to people you know in the military. This is not a chain letter, this is real.
(With permission from Gail Tipp)
Tipps' message can save our bravest
By Michael Morris - The Facts News
Published June 14, 2005
Army Spc. Robert Tipp Jr. spent a year in Iraq, working to keep the citizens of that country safe as they yearned to enjoy the benefits of their newfound freedom. Tipp’s family now is working to do the same for American soldiers when they return home. Their mission is no less important in protecting the lives of our heroes.
The family is being featured in a public service message and has been making the rounds of local and national media to warn other families of the dangers returning soldiers pose to themselves. It is a painful story they share, but one that can help prevent others from experiencing similar pain themselves.
Twenty-year-old Robert Tipp Jr. returned to Lake Jackson in March, having dodged snipers, roadside explosives and suicide bombings in Iraq. The absence of fear required to survive physically and mentally in the combat zone wasn’t something he could turn off when he tasted newfound freedom of his own. After a year of living on the edge, it’s the only way you remember how to live.
Three days after his return home, Tipp tore down the road on his all-terrain vehicle, foregoing the protection of a helmet. He was going too fast for the ATV to negotiate a curve, and he was thrown head-first into the pavement. He died a few hours later, on Easter morning.
His parents, Gail and Robert Tipp Sr., believe the sense of invincibility he brought with him from Iraq is what led to his deadly behavior. “He thought that nothing could hurt him now,” his father told USA Today of the couple’s only son. The mindset appears to be far from unusual. In Killeen, home of Fort Hood, the world’s largest military base, streets are filled with sports cars and high-speed motorcycles. Races along outlying streets are not uncommon, USA Today reported. The soldiers are living fast and hard — and recklessly.
In the past seven months, USA Today reported, there has been a 23 percent increase in the number of Army soldiers killed in stateside vehicle accidents, with the majority involving veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army has taken notice and is implementing programs to try to reduce the risks soldiers are taking.
The Tipps are part of the military’s efforts. They hope their message gets through, keeping alive not only the memory of their son, but their brothers in arms who might be predisposed to suffer the same fate as Robert Jr. “If you’ve got a feeling that they’re living too fast a lifestyle, even if it makes them mad, pisses them off, slow ’em down,” Tipp Sr. told USA Today. He said he is tormented by not following that advice with his own son.
The Tipps’ story could save the lives of our country’s bravest, who after war fail to recognize when their bravery can be deadly. It is an important story to tell, and a tribute to Robert Jr. for his family to speak through their pain to tell it.
As sad story for sure. I saw a whole lot of the same with Vietnam Vets returning.
Let us all remember every day that these young people sacrifice much to serve in the military and that sacrifice extends beyond their years of service into the impact their service has on the rest of their lives. My prayers go out for Robert and for Gail and Robert Sr. as well. Bless you Robert, we are less because you are gone.
As some of you know, I have walked in their shoes and I know the pain first hand.
PapaBill. I wish they would have learned something from the Vietnam Veterans. These soldiers are NOT being "reprogrammed" for normal life after they return. They are BEGINNING to do that but not often enough.
I think it is expected that the return to family, friends, loved ones and familiar surroundings is enough to offset "anything" experienced during the combat tour . Too often it is not understood that the once familiar surroundings and people are now the strange and out of place. Sylvester Stalone did a series of movies about a displaced veteran who could no longer cope. Although they were corny and extreme, they did not miss the mark on the idea that some of these folks are "programmed" to live a life under different (or no) rules acceptable in normal society. We do little or nothing to deprogram these behaviors from them. The possible result is what happened to Robert Tipp.
Some 35 or 40 years later , I still know some Vietnam era vets who cannot completely integrate their behavior into 100% normal actions. They have trouble with jobs and relationships . Sometimes they will abuse alcohol or drugs. My good friend Victor, a combat Vet from two tours in Vietnam, still fights those battles deep in his subconscious mind when he sleeps at night.
I know just as many normal , ordinary and in fact extraordinary vets who have managed to cope quite well. Some turned their "bad" experiences into positive life lessons. They became hardened and determined to succeed and often do so. One I can proudly call friend is currently a Brigadeer General and Dean of Students at West Point.
As I write this I am watching a young man leave my office. A proud veteran, he has taken skills and disciplines learned in the Army and turned them into excellent skills in the business world. He is a very highly regarded staff member here and will someday run this place.
My prayers remain for Robert and his family and for your family members in the service as well Carole.
Well said and I know exactly what you mean. John still has nightmares and an exagerated startle response (among other things). Someone he knows (out of state) relies on drugs and alcohol to cope. This guy even pulls his own teeth rather than go to a dentist. He wont leave his property. Groceries are delivered, etc. Very sad.
We just don't prepare them to come home and be in a "safe" environment. Gail said that it was what contributed to his death. She said he rode that 4 wheeler like nothing could ever happen to him. He felt invicible. So sad.
I live near Fot Hood, and we are the military family. No one will ever know what we go through during these times. I am proud of the American people, who have shown respect to today's soldiers. They need your prayers......
We will be at Ft. Hood soon (very soon). There is a 1st Cav Reunion and there are many buddies from Vietnam that John hasn't seen since that time.
Working with the Military Moms gives you a wonderful support group. Gail says she still works with the group because (and I quote) "I am doing this for YOUR kids now". It was a heartfelt moment when she said that.
Carole. Your friend Gail seems to be handling her situation well . She and her family will also need support. There will be plenty of people around them in the immediate aftermath of Robert's passing, but as time goes by you need continuing support.
It is 36 years and 10 days since my brother was killed in Vietnam. I was very lucky to have been married and to have a 10 month old baby at the time. Needing to provide for my family became something I focused intently on. Gram understood my many moods
and to this day indulges me on certain days when she knows my thoughts will turn back to a different time. She would understand how beneficial my writing here can be for me.
My Dad has probably never recovered . His personality changed dramatically. He lost his first born son, his namesake, his pride and joy. With my Mom's passing (almost 20 years later) he has become ever more reclusive and bizarre at times in his behavior. Mom was the one who was strong for all of us. She held us together by shear force of her will. Mom was physically handicapped and never in good health but her inner energy kept us all focused on moving forward with our lives while never forgetting (not that we could).
Anyway I digress a bit. Gail and Robert Sr. (as well as any other close family) will need continuing love and support, not just now, but for a long time to come. I know that as long as they have friends like you and Johnny they will have the love and support they need.
I could be wrong now I've been watching many shows on this problem and the army - US forces - seem to be ignoring the problem altogether - as if to say "suck it up and be men!" They seem to train them too not to talk about it and if you do go to a phycologist they put it on your record... I don't know if this is true or not but if so I wish there was some way we could bring this Macho way of thinking into the 21st century.... I thank all of you were are serving and have family members serving and pray for their safe return - I will now pray for their safe and happy return.. Debbie