Final salute: Medals bring closure to soldier's family
Updated 12:54 pm, Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The emotion was obvious as Sherry Miro stood in front of Fairfield's Honor Roll of military veterans on Town Hall Green Monday morning, cradling her late brother's Army medals in her hands.
"This is just unbelievable," the Fairfield resident said. "It helps to close a few chapters for my family."
First Sgt. Daniel L. Gammon had enlisted in the Army in 1968, fresh out of high school in Des Moines, Iowa, and served in the military 20 years.
Gammon loved his country, Miro said, but didn't talk much about his overseas tours of active duty, including Vietnam. He did, she said, put his Purple Heart in their mother's casket when she died.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Gammon wanted to return to military service. "He tried very hard to get in," Miro said. "It was something he felt he needed to do."
But health problems and his age at the time -- he was 50 -- made that impossible. Then, in 2006, Gammon committed suicide. "He planned it out," Miro said. "It was devastating."
In the aftermath of grieving, a cousin suggested that Miro research Gammon's time in the Army. First, she called the Veterans Administration, but never heard back, So then she turned to U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, her representative in Congress. That was in July and on Monday Himes came to the Honor Roll to present Miro with her brother's medals, which range from a meritorious service medal and oak leaf to Nationals Defense Service Medal to a Vietnam service medal and Bronze Star.
Himes also gave Miro an inch-think envelope containing the details of Gammon's military service.
It's important, Miro said, not only for his family to see the medals Gammon was awarded, but also important "to be able to read what he accomplished."
And for both Miro and Himes, it was an opportunity to put the spotlight on veterans, new and old, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Too many of our veterans are coming home and feeling alone," Himes said, a problem that has grown to the point where the nation is in danger of losing more military personnel through suicide rather than war. "That's a bigger indictment of what we're doing and how we're doing it," he said.
Gammon, Miro said, had served his country with dignity, but whenever anyone asked him about his military service, he "just kind shrugged it off ... it was his job, what he was supposed to do."
It is a challenge, Himes said, for military personnel to let others know they are feeling fearful or anxious. among the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. "It's one area where we need to do a lot of work," he said.
"It's almost like you are programmed to hide your feelings," Miro said. "These guys come back and they are so good at hiding their feelings."
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