In Memory of Captain Kevin

Sticky post

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

November 14, 1958
August 5, 2000

“Why?  I gave him my Word.”

Kevin

Kevin Drue Donnelly, 23 years old, 1981  (Picture taken by our dad.)

Kevin at 41 yrs old - 1999

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, 41 years old, 1999 (wearing cowboy boots)

I met Kevin via the internet in 1998. Actually, I met his brother Pat first. Come to find out, Pat and I were in the same unit in Germany in the Army. Kevin was stationed about 30 minutes away from us. Pat had come to Germany right before I had left, but Kevin had been there most of the same time as I was, 1975-1977. I had read Kevin’s Panama Story and remembered his Chapter 3 because I was in Germany at that same time.

Kevin had Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, as well as kidney problems. He was a Captain in the Army Reserves and cared deeply for our Veterans. His main goal was to help other veterans who needed it. He built this website. I only put in online. Everything on this site is from Kevin’s research. He wanted a website for Veterans with Hepatitis. He wanted a one-stop place for them to find as much info as they could. In our work with vets, we found one of the biggest questions was: How do I get my records, DD214, disability…etc. That is why those instructions are on this site. The pictures were picked out by Kevin. Everything on this site was approved by him before I put it on. Unfortunately, he did not agree with having a survey on here, and he had moved on to a deep field of research, so he asked to be removed from the site. He was so into the research that he just didn’t have time to monitor the site and the message board we had here. This upset me deeply, but I honored his request.

There are people who have spent the past 2 and a half years trying to destroy Kevin’s credibility. Those people have now produced their own Vet site. Most of the info on their site came from this one.

Kevin would call vets from all over the country and try to help them. We recently lost a vet who Kevin helped, Lester Tucker. Kevin was very upset at the loss of Les and felt he had let Les down. I told him that he did all he could, and that he was a huge help to so many vets. I know that there are many vets out there who knew Kevin, or even just got a helping email from him. I hear from these people all the time, and they have nothing but good to say about him.

Kevin was a good man with a HUGE heart. He put others before himself and ignored his health concerns to assist those who came to him for help. His research dug up some very interesting things, and I believe with all my heart that his letter writing and postings have helped bring HCV to the forefront within the VA. I know that when Kevin started this, the VA didn’t do much of anything for infected veterans. I believe that he had a hand, no matter how small, in changing that.

Kevin left a lot of research unfinished. Unfortunately, Kevin’s wife only gave us research dated from 1998. All of the work he did from 1999 and 2000 is gone. Although she had talked about how important that work was, she didn’t see fit to save it or pass it on. This is so unfortunate because Kevin deserves to be honored for the work he did and the time he put into it. He put aside his own illness, and in fact his whole life, in order to help Veterans. Now he will be helping from a different view. Hopefully, by looking down to all of us, he will finally have some peace and be out of pain.

His sister, brothers, and parents are in deep mourning and ask that we honor Kevin by continuing the fight for HCV Awareness, both in the general population as well as the Veteran’s population. They are very proud of Kevin and believe that he is now in the hands of God.

Thank you Kevin, from the bottom of my heart. You made me proud to know you and proud to be a Veteran. I will miss you more than words can say.

Kevin Drue Donnelly’s Veteran Poetry

Kevin Drue Donnelly authored each poem with his U.S. Army enlistment in 1977.

This page is posted for Veterans Day, November 11th, each year, per Kevin’s request to his sister.

“Why? I gave him my Word.”
Kevin’s Sister

Monette Benoit

One Salute At A Time

www.captainkevindonnelly.com

—————————–

“Sincere  Once  More”

By Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly Copyright ©, All Rights Reserved.

I wanted to just write a poem…
And write it for some vets.
But the more I got to thinking…
The more I started to regret.
As we watch today’s Veteran Sales…
And other secular events
I wonder whatever happened to…
Just saying, “thank you” …
that was sincere- and really meant?

Some will claim they are a veteran…
And so they are worthy of praise.
Others will not say a word…
Yet, both are the heroes that we have raised.

People will gather…
And folks will spend…
but not for the Veteran…
And, probably not, from within.

Where are all the folks from the past…
That would gather and hoist a toast?
They’d almost want to stand in line…
To give the veteran their most.

Today it’s a little different…
And I’m not, really, sure just why.
For just a few years ago…
The flags were certainly up
And, in fact, were waving quite high….
What is it with our country…
That demands so much from its vets?

From the giving of their lives…
To their living with regrets?

But at times when the vet is down…
And others are misspent…
Along comes another day…
To remind us what we meant.
Maybe one day, soon to come…
Others will finally respect, and not resent…
That vets offered to give their lives…
And never thought about “percents”.

But now the needy veteran will find them…
Only, not where they need to be.
They’ll be found in the stores on merchandise…
And not on ‘VA’ letters… to be.

“Give us ‘percents’ to equate our lives”…
Is what most vets are left to plead for.
The dignity is gone, the shame comes on…
The hopes are dashed – and even bleed some.
When they’re forced to play the games…
For what they were always promised,
It breaks their heart, crushes their spirit…
They’re left to feel admonished.
But most will only die…
Sooner than should be…
They’d only like some hope…
To show their families.

So let’s hear it for the vets!
And let’s see it in the stores!
But let’s hope we see it, real genuine…
And a little “sincere”- once more!

By Kevin Drue Donnelly, Captain, USAR
11/11/98

——————————

“Do they really believe…?”

By Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly Copyright ©, All Rights Reserved.

They’ve tainted our image…
And offered no hope.
Infants now ill…
We get nothing – but smoke.
Where is the help?
Where is the caring?
Why no concern?
Why the meandering?
Why are we told,
That we’re not even ill?
Yet given a needle
To take with some pills?

Make sure you pay.
Money’s the cure!
Just look at famous…
If you want to be sure.

Liver they say!
But, blood is the key…
So, get a biopsy…
The better to see.
But what of the tummy?
The spleen, and such?
What of the heart?
The bones and stuff?
Where do we go…
When all, it aches?

How do you say…
Listen! Just wait…
I had a sharp pain…
It went from here…
Went over there…
But now it’s disappeared…
They look at you weird.
Like you’ve lost your mind.
But, they were not taught…

So, we look like mimes.
Unable to express…
Just what we need.
They know more than us…
Yet, where we ‘can’ see…
That, those whom are trusted…
And enabled by law…
To render assistance…
Have clearly, clearly, dropped the ball.

How can we say…?
When, though we ‘can’ speak…
Others will ‘not’ listen.
Will not encourage, won’t seek.
Why no help?
Why the delay?

Do they really believe…
We’ll ALL go away?
After 60 years,
Please give us some help.

Why has hepatitis…
Been put on a shelf?

By Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, Hepatitis sufferer
12/5/99

——————————

“We”

By Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly Copyright ©, All Rights Reserved.

A veteran stood alone today,
Just staring, at the Capitol steps.
Wondering, how long it would take,
For the leaders, to pay their respect.

For decades heroes have been forgotten,
Except when all felt the shame.
Of the vets that died from yester-year,
The one’s who had no names.

Inside the great Capitol,
This veteran noted to himself,
Are politicians who like to wave the flag,
But look the other way, when asked to help.
They know not what they do.
For they are politicians, and do it for greed.

The veteran does their part,
Because of this country’s needs.
The veteran, alone, stood and stared,
Then started to approach the marble steps.
“If it’s flag waving and honor they want,
Then surely, surely, they want a vet!”

As the Capitol neared,
And the vet approached the first steps,
The flag atop the building suddenly snapped, and waved
And greeted, the lonely vet.

It waved from high atop, the Nation’s Capitol.
Far removed, from the politician’s embrace.
It saluted Arlington Cemetery,
And all the great, great, heroes in that place.
The flag will never be,
For those that think, of only “Me”.

The veteran is a veteran,
Because they always think of “We.”

By Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly
May 1998

————————————

“The Battle Raged as a Distant Storm…”

By Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly Copyright ©, All Rights Reserved.

The Forces Mounted to hold the Fort.
“Stand Tall! Be sharp!” was the rallying cry…
“Get up! Stand fast! Hold! Don’t now reply!”
The dust clouds approached…
And in came the hoards.

Overwhelming and frightening…
Massive, now engorged.
They screamed from the depths…
From below the Fortress walls, but!
All were now deaf…
Upon the mounted and towered, earthen, wall.

“Come down, give up!
Surrender thyself!
Give in! Look out!
You have nothing else!”
But from the towers…
They threw back their responses.
Made up of words…
To rebuff their, now, stoutness.
“How can you not … Listen to prophets?”
They screamed from below…
“We look only to profit…”
“Get, out!
So now…
We can have ‘all’ of your land!
From Fortress to horizon,
Then back here again.”

“You’ll pay! We win!
There’s nothing you can do!”
But down from the walls…
Fall start falling words – much like a glue.
They are a little…
Bit different than most.

They are, but, the words…
Spoken by ‘hordes’, not by ‘hosts’.
The hordes cringed…
And cried out.
And yelled,
“How is this fair?”
“That you slay us with our own words now…
That we wrote,
And have since,
Repaired!”

Like hot oil from Quazimoto.
It dripped on the hordes.
And back they began,
To Stumble and fall.

More threw words…
But targeted their might.
Knowing others get lost…
When the cause is for right.
Back they moved.
And soon into a rush.
The Centuries stood silent.
They watched with a hush.

But off the hordes ran.
All tarred and feathered.
With their words that they spoke of,
Now gripping like leather.

“Use this time…
To gather more ammunition!”
Was heard shouted about…
From inside their position.

Again, the dust clouds are there.
But something’s now different…
They are no longer advancing…
They’re moving backwards without precision.

So here we stand…
And now for the years.
They know of our methods…
But still can’t reappear.

They grumble and mumble…
As they move away from it all…
“Your fault!” “No!” “Your fault!”
They start to blame all.
“They were to lie down!”
“And surrender thyself!”
“Who said? Who thought?”
Some shouted down the rout.
With the words that they used…
To make their careers,
Now were cast down like stones…
Better…
Much like arrows, ‘incoming’, from previous years.

By Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly
5 August, 1999
——————————–

Posted for Veteran’s Day, November 11th, each year, per Kevin’s request to his sister.

“Why? I gave him my Word.”
Kevin’s Sister
Monette Benoit
www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

2003 – Eulogy for Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

 

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

 


The Eulogy for Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly
May 24, 2003
Washington D.C.
Saturday p.m.  ©
©   Monette:  “Thank you to all of you who have shared since Kevin’s death.  Thank you to all of you who have collected and gathered, since Kevin’s death.

And, I, Kevin’s Sister, thank you all for being so kind.  With Eugene at my side, this is how ‘we’ honored  Kevin, together.

We honored Kevin Drue Donnelly as he had not been honored during his funeral, during the church service by his widow, Tina Velocci Donnelly, and we honored Kevin as he might have been honored at the graveside, had anyone stayed and waited for the coffin to be delivered to Kevin Donnelly’s last resting spot.

Kevin never had a eulogy.  Now at last, he has received the respect, so important to his birth family. The eulogy was also a way to move forward, to remember the past; embracing both, moving forward together with the new people that have come into our life since Kevin’s sudden and tragic death. God bless you all.

KEVIN’S SISTER: “My name is Monette Benoit; I am Kevin’s Sister.

This is Kevin’s best friend. Eugene Simonson met Kevin when he was in second  grade, and Eugene Simonson was Kevin’s best  friend. When I received a small box that we received from his estate, there was a photo album in it.  And the last page in the photo album, which Kevin had made, had the second grade picture of Kevin and Eugene standing side by side in second grade together

Eugene grew up in my home.  My mom and dad helped raise him, and there were many a morning when I stepped over Eugene sleeping in our home, after I got up in the morning.

After Kevin died, Eugene came to the funeral; when he could, to the wake. 

Eugene was the one person who came the night I was sitting alone in the small room with Kevin’s casket at Dalton Funeral parlor.

Eugene was with me for part of the burial. He arrived today with the Harley Davidson group, Rolling Thunder, honoring Veterans this Memorial Day Weekend.  He’s with his friend, Pat tonight, and Eugene is a deacon. They work with the prisons.

When he and I were at the Calverton Cemetery as everybody left, I asked Eugene to say a prayer for my mom and my dad because my dad had just had cancer surgery, and Dad couldn’t attend the funeral, my brothers stayed with my mom and dad.

And Eugene let loose a prayer.  Boy howdy, he let loose.  He hugged me, tucked me up under his ribs, and he let it go.

Then Eugene stood in line with me to find out where the casket went.

Eugene went to the freshly-dug area in the cemetery, to find the hole in the ground because the casket was quickly removed.

The men (employees?) at the Calverton Cemetery had another funeral, waiting, and they insisted on removing the casket from the spot where it had rested briefly, taps played on a tape recorder in the bushes, two military servicemen handed the American flag to Kevin’s widow. 

Eugene stayed as the black limousine, the Velochi family, Kevin’s widow, Tina [Justine] Velocci Donnelly, and three stepdaughters suddenly departed. 

Eugene stood with me, on line, at the Calverton main office where I waited to ask where the casket ‘had gone’… 

Eugene went with me to the place where Kevin’s casket was to have been delivered. 

Eugene stood with me, waiting for the men to deliver the casket and to place the casket into the ground — after they came back from lunch.

So I wanted him to be here tonight. I would like Eugene to say the first prayer because he knows my parents and my brothers, and I had his Word that he would do this tonight.  So, would you all mind bowing your heads with Eugene.

DEACON EUGENE:  “I know that we come from all different places in terms of God, and the intention here is not to offend.  The intention here is to ask God for something, to bless us, and I know sometimes it is difficult to think of God or to see God when we are suffering from things and we have pain, but we have to remember that it’s the very pain and suffering of Christ that enables us to go to God, and it points us to God, and sometimes we get into that suffering and pain, and we stop fooling around, and it causes us to cry out to God, and so I’m going to ask God for some things tonight because he’s a good God. Okay? So if you want to bow your head and join me let’s ask:

                   Heavenly Father, we thank you for having gathered these people here tonight.  We thank you for bringing them together in their compassion for one another, Father, to uphold one another and support one another, and we thank you for your compassion for us.

                   Father, I ask for your peace in this room, and I ask for the peace in the lives of the people in this room, Father. I ask for healing hearts, healed relationships, and I ask for wisdom, Father, for the doctors and the researchers who are working on Hep C that you might, in your infinite power and wisdom, give them what they need to know to
bring a cure to these people and their family members, Father.

                   I pray for every soul here, Father. I pray for salvation, and I ask that you  might do all this in the name of Jesus, Amen.”

                   AUDIENCE:  “Amen.”

MONETTE:  “Thank you, Eugene.

“There was a CD that I had wanted to quote one song, if anybody had asked August 9th, 2000, the day I hoped there would be a eulogy, kind words for Kevin.

I carried the CD with me then, and it wasn’t the time. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to eulogize my brother.  The CD is by Sarah Brightman.

“Places that I’ve never seen or experienced with you …
seas that exist no more …
and when words fail me,
of course, I know that you’re with me.
Time to say good-bye.”

And I open with the special salute that I do each night in the name of my brother Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly.

Two years and nine months since the death of Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, finally, his family and those who loved him, have a moment to pause and to honor his life, his work, his contributions, his humor, and the best of Kevin Drue Donnelly.

I am Kevin’s Sister, and I am proud to be Kevin’s sister.  We were raised in a family where Dad is 105 percent Irish. 

Mom is a 120 percent Texas. I have two brothers  —  I now — Excuse me, I just did it!

This is the first time that I’ve ever done that, and I’ve been working on this for over two years.

I had three brothers.  Wow. I now have two. 

And each day I’m stuck on that one word ‘have’ or ‘had’. Maybe I just got it.

That’s still a challenge to get past that ‘A’ — from the ‘haaaaaaave’ to the ‘haaaaaad’… 

I still work on that every day, and maybe because Eugene is here, I finally got it.

It was an interesting family each day, each morning, each evening.  Both of our parents are teachers, and we traveled the United States in a camper.  Yes, a camper, camping in federal campgrounds, most of the way. 

I often teased that I was a hostage with three brothers. 

No air conditioning, hot summers.  We were camping, think porta-potties, toilets, federal campgrounds.

Each day a new journey, another day of sitting in the car with my three brothers. Sometimes they were very long days, but we were blessed to have traveled throughout all 48 states and every province of Canada.  And Kevin had his share of pranks in many of the campgrounds, museums, civil war battlefields that my dad took us to.

Together we grew each day, whether it was in our small home or traveling the country each summer for one month. I’m saying this because I want to share with each of you, there’s an old Irish saying:  Throw your hat over the wall.

When the British invaded Ireland, they built high walls to separate the people, the communities, the families that lived in Ireland.

The Irish were proud people, like Kevin.

They had few belongings to their name, but the men always had one hat.

After the Irish built the walls, they would go to the wall.  And if one of the men really wanted something, to make a point, a true commitment, a true gesture, they would throw their one and only hat over the wall.

Once their hat was over the wall, and it was too high to see over that wall, they had to go get that hat.

This is a true story.

I know Kevin threw his hat over the wall, the wall of Hepatitis C and the wall to the military. 

Kevin was willing to go over the wall for what he believed in and for the issues that he was proud to represent, his values, his country.

Kevin threw his hat over the wall, and then he just had to go get that durn hat — many, many times.

August 4th 2000, Kevin had no hat to throw over the wall.

When he died, he died suddenly, alone. I now remind each of you here tonight that we each have a hat. 

Each of us sees walls every day.

When you see a wall that seems insurmountable, unclimbable, unbelievably hard, please think of my brother, Kevin Drue Donnelly, and just throw your hat over the wall.

You will have to go for ‘it’, your hat. 

I know I did.

Without realizing it, I threw my hat over the wall for Kevin, then Hepatitis C.

I had not intended to throw my hat. 

Yet the inaccuracies, the statements that were trying to become ‘truth’ – forced me to questions. 

Had the proper respect been given my brother and my parents, I would not be standing here now. 

I would not have had to throw my hat over the wall for Kevin Drue Donnelly and then for Hepatitis C. 

As Kevin’s sister, I would have peacefully, graciously accepted the truth, and moved on. 

Yet my standing here tonight, two years and nine months later, is proof that I had to go get a hat.

My father and mother grieve the loss of their youngest son each day. 

They were not able to attend the funeral of Kevin, due to Dad’s advanced aggressive cancer surgery.

People at Kevin’s funeral approached, one by one and some in small groups, to ask me:  Why really aren’t your parents here?

We have not had the closure of unity that some have, to begin the healing of the death of a loved one.

                   Kevin, I honor you.

Kevin, I am so incredulous to see and to feel the love here in this room, the people that have been here at this Hepatitis gathering, what they have shared with me.

I feel like a deer in the headlights, stunned, listening. 

My right shoulder has been wet from the crocodile tears that so many have shared. 

Grown men, many veterans, sharing their knowledge and respect of you and your work.  Women hugging me, holding my hand. 

Yet, it was the men who cried – a lot; they are the ones who impacted me the most with the gravity of your impact, Kevin, upon the Hepatitis community and the respect that you earned.

Kevin, you threw your hat high. 

You threw it overhand, high into the air, and I salute you, Kevin. 

I know Mom and Dad wish they could be here to honor you for all you shared, your accomplishments.

Yet, Kevin I have to share that we, your family, still miss the boy who went to all the Cub Scout meetings earning every badge, working to Eagle Scout.

We miss the Kevin who became a medic in the army and excelled in ‘all’ you did.

We miss the Kevin who laughed and shared many of your new challenges, sports, pole vaulting, mountain climbing – the many challenges you tackled and you won. We have had to go on, Kevin, sadly without you.

August 5th, 2000, the night we were told you died, when I spoke to Dad by phone, De said, quote, “Well, now Kevin is at peace. He’s at peace perhaps for the first time in a long time.”

I know you are helping others, Kevin.  I feel your energy. 

I know you are helping others to toss their hats over the wall.

I really miss you, and I really miss my youngest brother – the one who used to get all the spiders, so I wouldn’t kill them — even the little brother who found all my diaries no matter where I hid them, some with Eugene, I’m sure.  I had diaries.  They, Eugene and Kevin, found all of them.  Kevin would leave me notes in the diary to let me know he had found each one. I stopped writing diaries because of my brother.

I miss the brother who hugged me, the brother who stood my side, when I needed you.

I also really miss the brother who helped me decide whether to stay with a boyfriend, or not. He’d write a pro and con list with me. Honest, and then he would write at the end:

Put this where the sun don’t shine.

I miss the one who laughed and shared with me, and the one who in the end, died sadly alone.

But you, Kevin, you did live the life you chose, helping others. 

You did get to choose, and that last night August 4th, 2000, with no hat to toss, you went home.

Please help me rebuild Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly’s library and his research for Hepatitis C, science, the military.  That was the one request that was most important to Kevin. 

Stunned, I have to share: All his predictions sadly came true.
 
     Some of us became stronger as a result of your request, Kevin. 

I know I learned how to leandeeper into the wind, respectfully, asking in your name, over and over…

If you have emails from my brother, you can email them to me: Monette@ARTCS.com.

  I want to rebuild what Kevin requested. I salute each of you.

I am Kevin’s Sister.  I have to end with: I really miss my brother, and I thank all of you and the Hepatitis C community for all the joy and all the happiness you all shared with Kevin because I heard about the phone calls, your emails.

Kevin would often call me — there are people in this room, Canadian, American — there are people in this room — when you introduced yourself to me, I had heard about you.  I knew who you were.

I thank you for giving Kevin those moments because when you ended a phone call with Kevin, he went on to another journey.

Yet,Kevin shared many of those journeys with me and a few who knew him — before Hepatitis ever entered his world.  And so I thank all of you.  God bless, thank you.

Do what you do, say what you say: Time to say good-bye, Kevin.  ©

Saturday, May 23, 2003
Memorial Day Weekend
Monette Benoit, Kevin’s Sister.
Email:  Monette@ARTCS.com

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

2003 – D.C. Rally and Finally, A Eulogy for Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, 2 Years and 9 Months After He Departed

 

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

 

“D.C. Rally and Finally, a Eulogy for Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly in
Washington D.C., 2 Years and 9 Months After He Departed”
By:  Monette Benoit, Kevin’s Sister   ©
August 5th, 2003

 

Why?  I gave him my Word.
Tonight’s sharing, three years to the night of his departure, is dedicated to the memory of my youngest brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, for his suffering, his courage and especially for the dignity with which he led the ‘public’ last 2.5 years of his life.
Can you feel it coming in the end of night, hold on.
I’ve seen your face before, my friend, but I don’t think you know who I am.
I can feel it coming in the end of night, hold on.
How could I forget?
It’s the first time, the last time we ever met.
I know the reason why we keep the silence …
The hurt doesn’t show, the pain still grows, so strange to you and me.
I can feel it coming in the end of night, hold on.”
Phil Collins

When people gathered during the small funeral at Dalton Funeral Home, LI, NY, no obituary in ‘any’ newspaper shared that he had lived and/or died, a requirement from his widow, his second marriage in 1990, to have the American flag draped over this veteran’s casket – there was no announcement to announce his departure.No one, I believe, gathered to celebrate the life of Kevin – not until Washington D.C., two years and nine months after August 5th, 2000.

He was a solider in this world.  He shared with less than one handful the horrors in his private world.

After his diagnosis, due to the severity of the disease, Kevin stopped dancing.  He stopped whistling ‘tunes’ on the radio.  He stopped running, and he stopped his favorite sport, pole vaulting.  He stopped his winter and summer mountain climbing in the Catskills and backpacking with his best friend, Eugene, from second grade.

I was very concerned when he stopped what he truly enjoyed after, I believe, seven years.  Kevin stopped volunteering as a coach in Lindenhurst, NY, High School. When he was rewarded the certificate for his coaching, Kevin was too ill to leave his residence.

His world changed course, too quickly.

“Like a rock, I was 18 and didn’t have a care.
Working for peanuts and not a dime to spare.
I was lean and solid and aware.
Like a rock, my hands were steady, my eyes were clear and bright.
My steps were quick and light, and I held firm to what I felt was quick and right.
I was strong as I could be.
Nothing ever got to me.
I was something to see.
Like a rock, I stood proud, I stood tall high above it all, I still believed in my dreams.”
Bob Segar

When Kevin reached out, and back, to those from his childhood, it is so sad to share, that it was because people he chose in the last years of his ‘healthy’ life, they were not there. Facts reveal this to be true.

The birth family, childhood friends and few veterans that ‘actually’ met Kevin, were the ones who stood with him, listening, witnessing.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

There was a handful who waited at Calverton Cemetery, NY, when his casket was quickly removed off the green outdoor carpeting, next to the small gold velvet cushions, on small little chairs.

Kevin’s life, adventures, diagnosis, illness, death, burial and actions of ourselves, others and from strangers are still, unbelievably shocking.

“Let us then, be up and doing with a heart for any fate, still achieving, still pursuing, yet learn to labor, to wait.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As I had promised to listen, I did. It was unbearably hard to listen, to watch, to read, to witness ‘to’ the inaccuracies as they attempted to become facts.

I had promised to listen, if I could.
I had promised to be there, if I could.
I had promised, over and over, to document, if I could.
This was Kevin’s wish.

Had I have had one wish?
What would that have been?
That’s the easy question.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I would have wished that my brother Kevin had never been injected with a Hepatitis shot, experiment, while he was a teenager who enlisted in the military.

Kevin was treated for “non-Hepatitis,” 24 January 1978 to 2 February 1978, 5th General Hospital Germany, 651st Med. Co. (AmB).  ***from Kevin’s own handwritten notes and official documentation.

A sister would have had a wish much different from Kevin’s request to listen, to document, post – his terminal diagnosis.

My mom and Dad and so many other moms and dads would have wished the virus that many knew about in 1942 from Brazil- – from a bad serum of a bad Yellow Fever vaccination- –  had never been injected into people in Brazil,
and then later — that the virus had never been injected in 1943 to soldiers serving in WW II within Europe.

The facts are all there.  I’m not sharing something new.

Kevin wrote about this in his entertaining novel wherein he documented facts, braiding the facts into fiction.  
Could Hepatitis have been prevented from being spread in 1942?  Perhaps.  Yes, truly, perhaps.

“Follow the money.”  Deep Throat, Watergate

After his diagnosis, December 23rd 1997, Kevin focused because he believed there was nothing else to focus toward, after he learned he ‘had’ Hepatitis C. He learned this ‘silent’ disease qualified him on his first doctor’s visit to receive the accompanying statement that stunned many of those close to him — long before anyone in the Hepatitis community even knew of Kevin Drue Donnelly. We knew; we were shocked, and we hurt, a lot.

After his diagnosis, the doctor shared with Kevin:  “And you are not be a candidate for a transplant.  Have a Merry Christmas.”

How do I know? He phoned my brother, his elder brother, also a veteran.

My youngest brother phoned my dad in the hospital, just out of life-threatening surgery. Dad was still hooked up to morphine and multiple machines. My dad and Kevin joked about ‘a’ race to heaven. It took my breath away.

I learned about Kevin’s diagnosis, with my husband, from my dad, when I re-entered his hospital room.

I had departed to purchase a Subway sandwich and iced tea. Again, we cried together, before the Hepatitis community and Kevin were ‘properly’ introduced.

“20 years now, where did they go?
20 years, I don’t know.
I sit and I wonder sometimes where they have gone.
Sometimes late at night  … the moon comes calling a ghostly white, and I recall.
Like a rock, standing arrow straight.
Charging from the gate.
Carrying the weight. Like a rock.” Bob Segar

Kevin’s suffering did help others, sadly, so many others.  And for that, my heart still hurts for the suffering he endured while he was alone, helping others who knew so little of the truth of my brother’s life and his world.  Kevin chose.
He was an adult; he chose the final chapter of his life.

“Rather than money … give me truth.” Henry David Thoreau

He chose, believing that he could not help himself.   He believed, correct – or incorrect – that there was no hope for him as he watched 1997 pass into 1998.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

His emails and gathering of facts, stats and form letters to politicians, letters and emails ‘how-to’ form support groups –this was a tropical storm that tore into his world.  Kevin chose to fight the good fight.

“Even in the middle of your sadness, the everyday madness, the ongoing game.
Even when you can’t find a reason.
Still there is a reason.
You don’t need to name it.
Look on up.
Look up from your life.” James Taylor

Kevin became very stoic in 1999. He spent all holidays alone in his residence after his diagnosis while many in the world celebrated.  Kevin needed to discover what led him to the fork in the road.  He needed to find if there were others out there so isolated so quickly, so alone, so quickly. 

What Kevin learned, changed many people’s lives forever.

“Time to move on … time to get going … and what lies ahead, I have no way of knowing.” Tom Petty

After his diagnosis in December 1997, Kevin stated that he ate all meals alone, save for the one when my husband and I flew to say good-bye to him, at his request. 

Kevin was animated, lively, joking.  He shared honestly, sitting on the kitchen counter, feet wiggling as he giggled with my husband and me.  I was horrified. 

He ‘had’ me promise not to cry. I sat tall in the kitchen chair for hours, tall, and blinking, swallowing back tears. I didn’t cry. I ‘had’ to honor him then as he was alive, perhaps just as I have to honor him now, that he is not…

For several hours, Kevin was excited to be free from the pain, from the physical swellings, bloating in his body, free from the ever-lingering fatigue.  Kevin had one pleasant evening in his residence, so he said. I know he did have other pleasant moments, though alone in the residence, when he did share with others. He had ‘good moments’ with others when he shared about his Hepatitis ‘wins’, his discoveries, accomplishments, and moments when he seldom shared his personal experiences.

I have held back, folks.  It’s all documented, in the hands of others. I’ve been respectful.  I’ve witnessed and waited as my brother, Kevin asked. 

Just as people move on, so has my Word to Kevin. 

My Word to Kevin, repeatedly, if I could, while he was alive, actually becomes stronger. 

Just as the butterfly flies from the cocoon, so must the truth be shared, per Kevin’s last wishes.

“When there is no sun, we can see the evening stars.” Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

Kevin spent the 1999 Christmas morning alone on an ER cot next to a cotton fabric wall in the ER ward after he phoned a veteran, a neighbor, to drive him to the hospital at 4:30 a.m.

Kevin phoned me at my brother’s home.  He ‘had’ me promise not to tell my parents Christmas afternoon about his hospitalization, and his decision that he believed he had to withdraw from his (almost) 24/7 work in 2000, knowing his time was limited.

My mom knew.  Once I was off the phone with Kevin, I could not make eye contact with my mom and Dad.  Mom knew. Perhaps mothers always do know.  So sad, yet what a blessing to be part of such a personal choice, a ‘knowing’ of what would be.  Mom knew.

“Only the good die young. The stained glass curtain that you’re hiding behind, never lets in the sun.
Oh, darling, only the good die young.” Billy Joel

Yet he did not share his personal illness and problems with the veterans, the people who emailed him and with whom he emailed each day.  Kevin reached high, sat tall while he emailed many of you. He told me how he slouched as his pains changed and when his body swelled.

Kevin, with beautiful blue-green eyes, did view his world, comforted in his residence by his five cats, his companions until the end.  Kevin did get to choose, though he chose from a limited window, back in his time.

“I’ll light the fire while you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.
Staring … for hours and hours, while I listen to you play your .. songs …
Our house, is a very, very fine house with two cats in the yard
La, la, lah, la, la, la, lah, lah, la, la, la, la, lah, lah, lah ….” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Those of you may pause to judge my brother, do not know the Hepatitis C world of 1997 to 2000. 

You do not know the isolation, the medical and family ignorance and naivety (my own included).  We knew zip about Hepatitis C in 1997.

Plus, what we did know was not entirely accurate.

“Don’t judge me. You could be me in another life, in another set of circumstances.”  Sting

Now we know that people receive the virus, Hep C, from a variety of many events.

“I’d love to tell you to stay inside the lines.
But some things are better on the other side.”  John Mayer

We didn’t hear or read how Hep C was acquired from transplants.  

We didn’t hear about tainted blood banks. 

We didn’t grasp the medical ignorance or drug company influence, containing eager people, eager to receive piles of grant monies.

“When I die and they lay me to rest, I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best.”  Norman Greenbaum

We did not hear, horrifically, about the people who did not entirely, truthfully, assist people with Hep C as they were experimented upon in those years.

“No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes.
No one knows what it’s like to be hated …
No one knows what it’s like to have these feelings, and I do, and I blame you.
No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes.” The Who

More than we ever knew was occurring behind the scenes.  There was a machine behind the black curtain.

I am the first to share, I did not believe it.  I could not believe it.  I now know the black curtain was more than fiction in the land of Oz, far ago and far away.

The innocents of that time, now know to do more than listen silently. Many are silent no more.

“Laugh about it, shout about it.
Any way you chose, when you laugh about it, you lose.”  Simon and Garfunkel

We now know what other diseases and communities learned the hard way.

We know to ask questions, to ask hard questions. 

We know things that were not comprehensible back when my brother was working day and night to find the origins of his disease and the truth of what would prevent others from the spread of Hep C.

“Listening is easier with eyes closed to understanding more than you see.
It’s getting harder to understand more when it works out, and it doesn’t matter much to me.
Let me take you down cuz I’m going to Strawberry fields, nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry fields forever.
Always know sometimes, I think it’s me, but you know, I know it’s a dream … that is, I think I disagree.
Let me take you down cuz I’m going to Strawberry fields … Strawberry fields forever.” The Beatles

You do not know the ‘shame’ of having a doctor tell you in 1997, 1998, 1999 —  “or” the shame of having an official letter mailed to your home by the military that you “had either ‘done’ drugs or had engaged in homosexual behavior.”

“I am invincible, as long as I am alive.”  John Mayer

You do not know that there were people in the Hep C world who pointed pointy fingers at my brother and attacked him on Hepatitis C message boards.

“Ahhh, I climbed a mountain and I turned around, and I saw my reflection in the landslide hills,
until the landslide brought me down.
Can I sail through the changing ocean’s tide?
Can I handle the season’s of my life?
Hummmm, ummm.
Time makes you bolder … And I’m getting older, too.
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills,
Well, the landslide will bring you down.”   Stevie Nicks

There were people who wanted Kevin to spend his time defending his actions. 

I can still hear Kevin’s deep voice, loudly, “Nah, ain’t got time for that.  I’m going to help the veterans, and this time no one gets left back.” 

Kevin would sigh, formulate a tart remark and move forward.  He didn’t spend his limited time defending actions that he knew would help others.

It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.”  Abraham Lincoln

Kevin used to write: if you disagree, bring it on home, but bring the facts. 

Kevin chose not to spend his limited time apologizing, attempting to placate. He chose not to ‘make nice’ with people that could not move the ball forward. It was pretty black and white to Kevin.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

Bring the facts, share the facts, change the facts, and educate about the facts to prevent history from repeating the facts.

Question:  Pretty simple, right, from his own world and from people who were receiving the benefits of his absence and the benefit of his research?  Answer:  No.

“I ain’t scared of dying, and I don’t really care, and
if it’s peace you find in dying and if dying time is near, then just bundle up my coat cuz I hear it’s cold down there, yeah, crazy cold down there.
I can swear there ain’t no heaven, but I pray there ain’t no hell.
But I’ll never know by living, yes, only by dying will tell.
Give me my freedom for as long as I be.
All I ask of  living is to have no chains of me, and all I ask of dying is to go naturally, is to go naturally.
Here I go .. yeah ….
Don’t’ want to go uneasy … Just let me go naturally”  Three Dog Night

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly’s emails and the history of his research prove this to be true.  Kevin worked overtime to help others.  This decision prolonged his suffering. 

Kevin would not “do” the experimental drugs back then.  Kevin would not receive a ‘free’ transplant in exchange for …

Kevin’s decision not to sell his research and/or to sell the story he wrote, one chapter each night, “The Panama Story,” had such a swift shift in his life.  He knew then.  He shared then. The saddest part to me, is Kevin knew, and he documented.  He shared this with others. 

Had Kevin sold his research, endorsed the products or drugs, sold his story, Kevin’s residential home and the life lived alone at the computer would have been completely different.

“Dogs bark at what they don’t understand.”  Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

Yet, my brother chose a different path.  He chose. Kevin chose to let time tell his story. 

He always told me and wrote, “People will know after I’m gone, they will know.  What a great group to inspire.  I’m getting mine back in spades.”

“And by the time I’m famous for my research, I will be dead.  Que-cera-cera”.

Kevin would not permit the fog of Hep C back then, and the complications it brought, to quickly and silently enfold his world, his research, his life.

“The doctor inflicts pain to cure suffering.”  Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

He would not permit the chemical confusion of an experiment, perhaps for a doctor’s study, to probably receive ‘grant’ money, to slow him.  The disease was doing that just fine, thank you.

“If elephants could fly, I’d be a little more optimistic,  but I don’t see that happening any time soon.” Shania Twain

His phone lines were tapped.  His home was occasionally watched. 

While Kevin was alive and during his last chapter on earth, research was taken out of his home.  It was. 

Kevin had a lock on his office door.  The lock was broken.  It was.

“Even the best of dreams must end.
Even so, it grieves me.
Stay loose, don’t fight it.
Let it take you all the way, and if it’s wrong, you will right it.
Do not waste these hours away.”  Gordon Lightfoot

I have remained respectfully silent, while I held the truth.  The truth needs to be shared.  Folders were removed, some a few at a time. True.

“It could happen to you, just like it happened to me.
There is simply no immunity.
There’s no guarantee …”  Sting

The last folders to be removed were ‘all’ at a time.  True.

While he was alive, his files and research, information, was taken and handed to strangers — not to the Hep C community — not to the people with whom he emailed and spoke — not to the veterans he was working to prevent their finality — working to prevent similar destinations from mimicking Kevin’s Hep C, HCV, path.

“Sometimes you’ve just gotta let it ride.
The world is changing right before your eyes.”  Eagles

Kevin’s information was, in fact, stolen, bit by bit; then it disappeared shortly after August 5th, 2000 from his residence and his office downstairs facing out toward the street where he once played basketball with the children and teens.

“Well, some say life will beat you down, break your heart, steal your crown.
So I’ve started out, for God knows where.
I guess I’ll know when I get there.”  Tom Petty

Kevin Drue Donnelly’s office window was the camera lens to his world; the shutter closed and narrowed, until the world blackened after the evening of August 4th, 2000, in the residence.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

The events are documents by authorities, by officials who documented the facts.  Facts are now what we share.

The inaccuracies and exaggerations are unacceptable.  Bring on the facts, the true ones.  Kevin’s life and his death deserve this now.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

During the final chapter, when Kevin spoke about the negativity that was sent forth by two handfuls of people within the Hep C community on many a night with his name attached, and the emails that resulted from the information he forwarded into the universe — they did create ripples.

“I don’t care what they say any more, this is my life.
Go ahead with your own life.
Leave me alone.
I never said I was a victim of circumstances.
I still belong …
Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone.
Keep it to yourself; it’s my life.”  Billy Joel

I found his courage, then to be surprising. Now I know this was what Kevin ‘had’ to do.

Kevin had to share with the universe.  He ‘knew’ there would be disagreements. He did not know it would be so personal within his residence and within a handful of the Hep world.

“Don’t stop believing …Hold onto that feeling.” Boston

Yet when Kevin, my brother shared with me, he would sigh loudly, often no comment attached to the factual sharing.
As a sibling, I would joke with Kevin, knowing his mannerisms, as a sister would.

“We had so many good times and some bad.
We shared the happiness; we shared the sad … you and I.” Boz Scaggs

While sharing, Kevin would wave his right hand with a lit cigarette – a cigarette he held more than he smoked, toward at the end.  He would wave his right hand in the air.  Fluently, with his left hand, Kevin would toss his blonde hair over the left side of his head, and he would share a tart, brief exhalation of speech, before he moved on. 

The anger toward him within his residence and anger from the few loud people who wanted to profit off his Hep C work and “The Panama Story” — or to draw him into battle, did not truly affect Kevin.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

Kevin wanted so much that his illness and his suffering would help others, would prevent a portion of the actual suffering that so few ‘now’ want to share.  Kevin wanted this to be prevented so no one would ever share what he knew to be his daily path.

“All I know can be shown by your acceptance of the facts there before you.
Take what I say in a different way, and it’s easy to say that this is all confusion.”  The ‘Yes’ Album

You should know there were a few -a few- moments when his hurt from this anger directed at him, was more than the pain from his illness, or his isolation, or from being rejected. But that time was limited compared to many, many moments when Kevin discovered a new fact, learned a new event, or more importantly, most importantly, when he helped a veteran.

Helping a veteran was Pay Dirt, to Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly.

“Before you leave, there’s something you should know, yeah.
I’ve seen you smiling in the summer sun.
I’ve seen your hair flying, when you run.
You’re high above me now, you’re wild and free … yeah.” Bob Seger

I witnessed my brother through emails and phone calls, launch from single moments that propelled Kevin forward into the unknown -with energy and a gust- for the bleak future that he knew was limited. 

Yet he reached out and grasped the hope of others, as his own hopes faded… loudly within his body.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I heard about the eyeglasses Captain Kevin sent to many veterans; the gift boxes he sent to youngsters in their first year at West Point; the letters he wrote for veterans who told Kevin they had trouble spelling and reading, but they had defended their country.

“Heaven holds a place for those who pray, hey, hey, hey.
We’d like to know a little about for your files.
Look around you, and all you see are sympathetic eyes.
Hiding in a hiding place whereon one ever goes, it’s just a little secret.”  Simon and Garfunkel

I heard about the mothers of soldiers with Hep C who diapered their sons, Purple Heart recipients, abandoned by their wives and children due to the fear of an infectious disease, HCV, Hep C.

“How can people be so heartless? How can people be so cruel? Easy to be hard, easy to be cold. How can people have no feeling? How can people ignore their friend? Easy to be proud. Easy to say no. Especially people who care about strangers, who care about evil and social injustice. Do you only care about the feeling proud? How about the needed friend? I need a friend. How can people be so heartless? Easy to be proud. Easy to say no. Easy to be cold.  Easy to say no.”  Three Dog Night

I also heard about Kevin’s anger with misinformation, the mistreatment of veterans, the acceptance of veterans who had served a country that now seemingly abandoned them.

But the truth of Kevin’s work, and his illness since his death, continues to shine, to bubble up. It ‘has’ to as so little was given to him when he was alone.

This sharing tonight is dedicated to Kevin’s suffering, alone, more alone in his residence and in his world, as he labored, worked to assist thousands and thousands of veterans (‘veterans’ were always first), as Kevin worked to help people, families, politicians, journalists, and wannabe Hep ‘experts’.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

Yes, Kevin suffered more than ‘any’ of us will ever know after he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.

“With a little love we can make this whole damned thing work out.
There is no end to what we can do together. There is no end.
With a little push we can send it out.
With a little love, we can shake it up, don’t you feel the comet exploding?
There can be no misunderstanding …”   Paul McCartney

Tonight I look to the stars and salute you, sharing with all that I still miss you, Kevin.

I miss the brother whom I phoned for advice, the brother who sat and talked and shared so many nights until 4:30 a.m. until I could not keep one eye open any longer. You stood by my side so often.  And I’m trying, Kevin, I’m working to share that you once were a young man with whom I laughed and cackled.

I miss the brother who could find the blackest humor wherever we went, the brother who wiggled, dancing, all the time. I miss the brother with blonde hair and blue-green eyes where we always, always, had to show proof that we were brother and sister.

You taught me so much, baby brother.

As much as you shared with the veterans and Hep C community, I remember when you shared that energy with your family, your friends and with me.

“I see a red door and I want it painted black.
No colors any more, I want them to turn black …
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away.
Like a newborn baby it just happens everyday.
I look inside myself and see myself painted black …
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts.
It’s not easy when your whole world is black .
I could not foresee this thing happening to you.
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes …
I want to see the sun blocking out the sky.
I want to see it fading, fading, black.” Rolling Stones

I will not bow my head. And I will not go to the corner!

This is unacceptable in ‘our’ world now.

With over 5 million diagnosed with Hep C, you were right.

With the accurate numbers and accurate truth not being shared, you were right.

With the facts and the unity of those in the trenches and those who give funding, those who receive funding, you were right.  Billions will be made in profits, as you predicted.  People and families will suffer..

With the predictions you had me promise to witness, if I could, you were right.

Oh, Kevin, what I would give to have you wrong, now.  I would give a lot. 

Yet, your suffering has shed light in the darkest of caves. 

Your light is continuing to beam, and I promise to help where I can, Kevin.

I gave you my Word when we last hugged.

I gave you my Word when I held my hand over your casket, with the American flag belatedly covering your last resting spot, and I prayed for you and for Mom and Dad. (Dad, also a veteran who was ‘gifted’ HCV, Hep C.)

I gave you my Word, Kevin, and now that’s all I have in your name – to share – and to continue to tell the real truth, to continue to tell what it was truly like to live in your shoes (to include the times, when you were not able to ‘squeeze’ your swollen feet into them prior to the final chapter in your life).

I gave you my Word, Kevin, and I dedicate this sharing tonight to prevent any of the events that you lived, to prevent any of the events that your ‘birth’ family has endured, and to prevent any of the events that members of the ever growing Hepatitis C community will need — to silently ‘know’ to be their truth.

“One thing I got to tell you is that you got to be free; come together right now over me.
Hold you in his arms, yeah, you can feel his disease.
Come together right now, over me.
Come together, yeah!” The Beatles

“Tonight is the third year to the day that my youngest brother, Kevin Drue Donnelly, departed from my world and entered another. I still miss my brother, a wonderful friend. From the bitterest of sadness’, has come hope.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

This past year, people within the Hepatitis C community continued to reach out to me, to others and to new members of this ‘family’. I have continued to be cautious, to be respectful. I have continued to share accurately, sharing the ‘Truth’ (I wrote the book, “The Truth: He was A Brother, A Veteran and He Died Before His Time” published two years ago tonight.) I have continued to seek, in this world, the honor and respect that Kevin truly did not ‘see’ while he was here working with the Hep communities, nor the respect immediately after his death.

After his diagnosis, Kevin found a drum. (Yes, he was a musician, and yes, this is a metaphor.) Kevin’s drum was a constant theme.  After his Hepatitis C diagnosis, my brother focused. Kevin continued to beat the drum about Hepatitis, sharing facts, the truth, the history, beating out a formula for what he believed would help others, drumming a constant beat to educate, to advocate, to work together, to join ranks together.

“Come on people now, smile on your brother.
Everybody get together, try to love one another right now.
If you hear the song I sing, you will understand
You hold the key to love and fear all in your trembling hand.” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Why?  I gave him my Word.

Kevin often commented and shared with me that the only good thing to ever come from this disease, was the family that ‘it’ created. Although I was not able to understand this in his lifetime, I learned so much, so much, when I was asked to speak in Kevin’s name to people who knew of Kevin, people with whom he corresponded, and to people who had never heard of my brother.  The common ‘bond’ in this family is Hepatitis C.   ©

“Imagine all the people working together …” John Lennon

© All copyright protected.

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly’s eulogy, delayed since his death August 5th, 2000, has become a reality. Kevin was finally honored with a eulogy, Saturday, May 24, 2003, in Washington DC, delivered by Kevin’s Sister, Monette Benoit.

I, Kevin’s Sister, was asked to be a speaker at Freedom Plaza, May 23rd, during the “Hepatitis C Movement For Awareness March on Washington & Weekend of Awareness.” The Candlelight Vigil was held in Washington D.C., May 24th.  People who knew Kevin, and those who had only  ‘read’ his emails, and those who read ‘about’ Kevin, attended.

Kevin’s best friend from second grade, Eugene, arrived on his Harley Davidson, to stand with me, Kevin’s Sister, and to honor Kevin.

This eulogy, though long in waiting, was an honor to my brother, to honor Kevin. As his sister, I had waited and listened for two years and nine months. That ‘special’ weekend, I was able to speak, to see and to learn of the grand respect that people shared for Kevin, their friend, their comrade, importantly, their veteran, and yes, a leader.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

The request to be a speaker and the opportunity to eulogize my brother arrived as mysteriously as the disease entered Kevin’s life, after military vaccinations, a diagnosis of non-Hepatitis, long ago and far away.  The silent ‘shift in his life’ had begun, though none of us would know for over 20 years.

The possibility of honoring Kevin with a eulogy arrived as quickly as Hepatitis C had entered my family’s private world.

The request arrived as mysteriously as the path Kevin embarked upon, hoping to work with others, to share, to lead, to advocate, to research and to study Hepatitis C, helping veterans first, then family members. 

The path Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly entered, turned out to be a ‘solitary’ chapter in his life, due to the actions of people close to him, due to his own actions and actions resulting from the ‘quick’ diagnosis that changed our life.

“I must be moving on.
I never look behind me, my troubles will be through.
Good bye stranger, time to see your point of view
Hope your dreams will all come true.
Will we ever meet again?
Feel no sorrow, feel no shame, come tomorrow, feel no pain.
Good by stranger, it’s been nice.
Hope you find your paradise.
Good-bye Mary.
Good-bye Jane, will we ever meet again?
Got to go, hit the road. Got to go. I’m sorry …”  Supertramp

Early one Monday morning, an email popped up on my computer screen, as I worked.

The email was over two years old.

This was not the first time an ‘old’ email had suddenly ‘just’ appeared on my computer screen. I grimaced, winced, waited two hours, continuing to work in my world. Reluctantly, I reached out to the Hep C world, again.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I emailed the sender of the email, from two years ago. 

Cautiously, I wrote an email to the lady who had emailed me after Kevin’s death, the one who knew Kevin through the Hep C community. Reluctantly, I shared that the email ‘popped up’, and I was wondering: How are you?

The woman wrote back almost immediately. She believed Kevin had ‘caused’ the email to appear on my computer.

There was suddenly discussion, again, as to ‘how’ my brother, Kevin Drue Donnelly ‘really’ died.

When she saw the emails, she shared what I had shared with others, one year to his death in my book, “The Truth:  He was a Brother, a Veteran and He Died Before His Time.”

I used the name ‘Monette Harrigan’ to share what I had learned and what was ‘the truth’ then. That name was used for a very specific purpose, and I do share when requested.

I sent my book to LeighAnn Vogel to forward into the Hepatitis C world.

I hoped that people diagnosed with illness and especially, Hepatitis C family members, might learn from the ‘truth’, as I worked to put the truth back into Kevin’s life.

“I am a boxer and I’m going home.
I am leaving, but the fire still remains.
Lah, lah, lah, lah, lah, lie, lie, lah, lah, lah, lah.” Simon and Garfunkel

Too many inaccuracies had appeared.

** The incorrect rank on his tombstone was my ‘enough meter’ (after witnessing, as Kevin had requested) for me before I seriously sat down and focused, honed my attention, just as Kevin had done.

Kevin refocused when he received a copy of his military vaccination records and learned they were not the original ones that he had stored in his personal file cabinet.

(Kevin always followed the “motto: keep everything from the military except the toilet paper, and keep that, if you can.” He shared with me that it is a common quote within the military.)

Kevin’s compliance of this practice, changed his life around forever. (I shared that within my book, “The Truth” the sequel to “The Panama Story” written by Kevin Drue Donnelly.)

“We don’t need no education.
We don’t need no false control …
All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall.
If you don’t eat your meat, how can you have any pudding?” Pink Floyd

I waited one year to the night to share honestly, as I listened and witnessed. I wrote what I knew to be accurate and about what I knew was not; I shared facts. This lady, with whom I wrote that Monday, had recently shared with people, via email that Kevin died with a gunshot wound (not her exact words). There still are individuals who have other ‘thoughts’. They were ‘challenging’ her, in email.

“It’s not over; it will never be over for you, soldier, soldier.
Do you remember the war?
It’s not over.
It’ll never be over for you.
It’s not over, till they stop playing war with you, soldier, solider.”  Stephen Stills

Again, I bowed my head, sighed, waited and listened to my heart. Then I responded. I, again, shared what I knew.

I asked her to please send my email to anyone ‘challenging’ her ‘truth’ of Kevin’s death.

As Kevin’s Sister, I learned to listen, after his diagnosis, and especially since his death. As I was writing this, I wrote to ‘her’, asking permission if I could share her name. “Carrie Nation”, (wenatchee71@hotmail.com), responded and lit my world for one moment, another bright light from Kevin’s world.

Carrie wrote: “My name is ‘out there’ all over the web. People who just learn they have this, need someone, who ‘like Kevin’ will not stop with one Dr. and one answer.  I’m one of those people. I’m sure Kevin played some part in the CDC now admitting that the ‘gamma globulin shots’ did have the RNA in them to give the HCV, a start in the human body.  I so miss his e-mails and our sharing of information we find here and there.  Yes, of course you can use my name.  ((((Hugs))))”

I responded to Carrie that Monday morning requesting that she forward my email to ‘any people’ questioning Kevin’s life and how he ‘really died’. The next day, I believe, an email arrived with about five email names, as copied recipients. They all seemed to know each other. There were no formal names, only email names. A thread of conversations began. I attempted to answer what I could, how I could. After about the fifth email (an estimate here), I asked to have the names of the people with whom I was writing. I also remember writing that if anyone has any proof, come on, bring it on in. I have worked to be respectful to people involved with Kevin, since his diagnosis and post-his death.

People were, again, writing how they ‘knew’ Kevin, they researched with him, and/or they spoke to Kevin.

I have been respectful to each, knowing Kevin never ‘met’ any people within the Hepatitis C community.

He was ‘on’ 24/7, working on his computer, returning calls, placing calls, helping where he could. Any time spent socializing, would be time Kevin did not spend helping others and moving his research forward.

I teased my youngest brother, Kevin, that he had become the Hep Radio; all Hep, all the time.

But he did not go to any meetings, rallies, marches, speeches.

Kevin was in the trenches January 1998 to August 2000, trying to lead, working to create a path for many to follow, working to research the facts, to discover the hidden truths, to share the true facts of hepatitis, to ensure that others did not suffer as he was. Yet Kevin developed a few special relationships, friendships.

Many knew him; many thought they did. A special few truly did.

One day an email arrived from Tricia Lupole. It was short, to the point. She wanted to speak to me. Few had asked to speak to me.

As Kevin’s only sister, I grieve too.

I often walk a fine-line as the sister who listened while he was alive, the sister who listened after he died, and the sister who wants to prevent others from ever traveling the path Kevin wanted to sprint.

My brother Kevin was a warrior, not a gladiator.

He stood his ground, but he did not go hunting fights.

Kevin had a belief system. Facts, facts and then more facts. And then, back it up with the truth and facts, not theories, conspiracies, secrecy.

And Kevin used the word I chose not to use, he spoke about ‘lies’… I speak about ‘inaccuracies’…

Why?  I gave him my Word.

Kevin’s time was limited from the day of his diagnosis, per his doctor sharing that he had Hepatitis C.

“No one said it would be easy.
No one said it’d be this hard.
No one said it would be easy.
No one thought we’d come this far.”  Sheryl Crow

Kevin chose not to fool around about this disease, unless his funny sense of humor and spontaneous giggling, arose from within. Those moments were not frequent, as time marched on.

Time was not on his side, and he was ‘very’ alone, not having one person eat with him in his residence 2.5 years after his diagnosis, until my husband and I flew to “say good-bye,” per Kevin’s request.

When Tricia shared how she knew Kevin, I agreed to phone her.  We spoke. She asked questions; I answered what I could, listened, shared what I could. I did reply to questions about he “really died.”

Then Tricia shared about the Hepatitis C Movement for Awareness, March on Washington and Weekend of Awareness. She invited me to attend and offered an invitation to speak about Kevin.

She joked, “Am I getting you excited about this?” I truthfully joked, “No, you’re getting me scared about this.”

We shared, laughed; then she mentioned Kevin was going to be included in the Candlelight Vigil. The gauntlet had been tossed.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I remember my reply, “Really?!”

“Yes,” Tricia said. Well, that changed almost everything.

We chatted about the fact that Kevin had never received a eulogy; he had never been eulogized.

After two years, I would quietly, seriously share:  “Goldfish have better funerals than my brother, even a goldfish ‘gets’ a eulogy.”

I said that the eulogy itself was important enough for me to seriously consider attending; speaking would have to be given ‘some’ consideration.

I remember sharing that if I did go, I ‘really’ would not be able to ‘really’ answer continually how he ‘really’ died. Tricia was very kind. We ended our call on a positive note, Kevin would have been honored.

The next day at the birthday party of my eldest brother’s son, I sat with my parents in the hot Texas heat. While my nephew was attempting to ‘beat’ a piñata with his party buddies, I quietly shared Tricia’s conversation with my mom and Dad. For a few seconds, we watched the children jump and strain to beat that piñata.

My dad, arms folded, hands clasped, said firmly, quietly: “I want you to go; you have to go. You have to go and validate Kevin’s work and his research. I want you to go.” I blinked hard.  I looked to my left.

Mom leaned forward, listening, hands rolling over each other, nervously. Tears in her eyes, my mom, Kevin’s Mom, who still cries each time she speaks of her youngest child, said very quietly, almost a whisper, “I don’t know how you could go and do that.  I don’t know how anyone could do that.”

Without hesitating, I heard myself reply: “If I could have gone to the funeral and done ‘that’, I can do ‘this’. To have gone there and listened and watched, I can certainly do this.”

The decision was made, in real-time, as I heard myself saying that I would go for Kevin, Mom and Dad.

My dad nodded, quietly; he said, “You’ll do a good job.  You have to go, for Kevin.”

We sat silent, the piñata had burst, candy covered the yard. Small children dove onto the ground to retrieve what their little hands could hold. I stood, and went into the air conditioning, to clear my head. 

Thus, began my trip preparations for Washington D.C.  It had been decided.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

As simple as it had been decided that “you will go to the funeral and represent our family,” Dad then was newly post-op from surgery and unable to travel. Mom and brothers chose to stay with my grieving and healing Dad, each grieving in different spaces.

I had gone to the funeral alone, now I was going to Washington D.C., alone.

When Kevin died, my family had just moved, and my husband had just started a new job. He ‘could not’ take off from work. I understood, head bowed, and flew alone. As I spoke to my husband about this decision to go, a husband who had been patient for the past two years and nine months, he again said, that he ‘could not’ take off from work from a ‘new’ job.

My husband was like an elder brother to Kevin, and I know Kevin respected and even better, liked my husband. They were friends, joking as only ‘guys’ can. Often I would just shake my head and giggle watching them together.

Again, I was going alone, for Kevin.

That night I phoned Eugene, Kevin’s best friend from second grade, and left word, as I had the evening of August 5th, 2000. After speaking to my family, Eugene had been my first phone call that night.

Eugene returned my call later, as he had August 5th, 2000.  Yes, of course, he would be there.  When?  Where?

And it just so happened that Eugene would be in Washington D.C. for Veterans Day with the Harley Davidson, Rolling Thunder group, to honor veterans. 

The timing couldn’t have been better, for Eugene.

Again, I contacted LeighAnn Vogel and Phyllis Beck for any advice, wisdom. Both encouraged me to go, to be honest, to feel the “love for Kevin.” They continued to share what I was not able to understand; people felt very strongly about my brother. It would be good for them to meet me, and it would be good for me to meet them.

Suddenly, much of the pain and the ‘gut’ anxiety came back, like a black wall, it quickly rolled back into my world.

Feel the love for Kevin? Yes, I would very much like to feel love and to see it, for Kevin.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

Again, I turned to the mentors and pillars in my world. Each person insisted that I had to go. Not one person felt that I should possibly ‘think’ on it. Many wrote me inspirational emails.

So many empowering sentences were sent to make me stronger, I put them together in one document, printed it and packed it to go to D.C. with me. Yet the anxiety continued to grow.

One person wrote:  “Go, be guts and go.”

I wrote back, “How can one ‘be’ guts?” He wrote back, “You are guts and blood and you are strong.  You must go and be yourself.  You are stronger than you realize.”

Another wrote:  “You must go and pay homage to your brother.  Your very presence will be a symbol for the commitment you have created, and it will be seen by people with Hepatitis, each with family members. Your presence will honor your brother for his work, his sacrifices and for his death.”

 One girlfriend wrote, “Go and feel it all, the good, the bad and take it all in.  You have to because you are strong.”

I phoned Tricia to ask if the invitation was ‘still’ there. Could I be included to eulogize and to speak? Patricia Lupole, National Coordinator, Hepatitis C’s Movement for Awareness was gracious and said, ‘yes,’ there will be many who knew your brother. She, too, believed it would be good to come, to meet, to speak. I was focused on the eulogy.

The “Invitation To Speak” arrived in my email April 28th. 

I had prayed long and hard and then decided, again, to lean into the wind.

I went online and registered to become one of the speakers for the “Guest Speakers at Freedom Plaza.”

I made the plane reservations. My mom and I went shopping. I wanted proper attire, fresh, for a new beginning. My mom and I shared many private moments together as I prepped to go, very bittersweet, yet loving.

Please note that my family did not have the opportunity to all gather after Kevin’s funeral. The separation in spaces, affected each of us, personally.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

The day of my flight, my plane was scheduled to leave around 6:00 a.m.

Forty minutes from the airport, my dad offered to drive. He arrived at 4:45 a.m. to take his daughter to the airport to eulogize his son and to speak at Freedom Plaza for Kevin.

I had risen at 3:30 a.m. to finish my presentation. We arrived at the curb of the airport; I was not allowed to check my luggage; I was told the plane was overbooked. There was a possibility I might not get my bag onto the plane. My dad and I quickly kissed good-bye; I zipped into the airport.

I stopped a man, my eyes filled with tears; I shared why I was flying that morning. 

Quickly, he took my bag and put it on the ramp for the airline. I thanked him profusely.

He would not accept a tip, when I detailed why I had to get on ‘that’ plane, my shoes in my hand, as I stood barefoot for security.

The U.S. was on ‘Orange’ alert for ‘terrorists’.

There was a little ‘security’ drama getting onto the plane, but once aboard, with my bag promised to arrive in Washington D.C., I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

“There’s a law of the jungle, there’s a law of the land, if you get caught in the middle, you try to make it the best you can.”  Bonnie Raitt

Many hours later, I checked into the hotel. I went to my room. There were people all over the lobby, chatting, laughing.  The man at the front desk, asked me if I was one of “those people who have been emailing each other for two years.”

Confused and very tired, I did not understand. He explained, the people at the hotel for this convention had never met, but they had been friends for two years. He wanted to know if I was one of them. I bowed my head and said, no. He further asked why I was attending. He truly was interested. I was exhausted, hungry and wanted a pillow.

I shared that my brother ‘had’ Hepatitis C.  He wanted to know if my brother was ‘here’…

I looked at him, slowly and quietly said, “My brother had Hepatitis C, then he died.  That’s why I’m here.”

Aghast, he inhaled. I said, “Oh, come on.  It’s the truth.” He wanted to know how he could make my stay comfortable.

By now, I was laughing with him. I did not introduce myself to anyone in the lobby. So many people were laughing, hugging, a wonderful first impression.

“Everybody is talking at me, I don’t hear a word they are saying, only the echoes of my mind
People stop and staring, I can’t see their faces, only the shadows of their eyes.
I’m going where the sun keeps shining, through the pouring rain.
Woah, woah, woah, woahhhhh, woooha, woahhh, woahhh, woah, woahhhhhh. Ahhh”  Glen Campbell

Why?  I gave him my Word.

The “Kick Off Rally” began at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, May 22nd, 2003. I was so anxious, very nervous.

I said a prayer and left my room. I arrived at the ‘rally’ and stood on line to sign in at the table by the entrance. There was so much laughter, people hugging, smiling, families together with children and teens. I stood alone, on line.

When I approached the sign-in table, the lady asked me who I was.  I replied, “I’m Kevin’s Sister.”

She looked surprised, suddenly, brightly smiled, held out her hand, started speaking to me, excited.

The man in front of me turned around. He stood almost 6-feet. Firmly, he grabbed my right shoulder. He excitedly, held onto my shoulder, hugged me and said, “You’re the reason I came here!  I wanted to meet you. When I saw your name on the speaker list, I knew I had to come! I knew your brother ….” I semi-panicked.  I blinked hard.

The man continued to talk.  He gave me a business card. I stood stunned, listening, not fully able to understand, his hand still holding my shoulder.

I said that I needed to check on something … and moved away from this kind man, who was so excited to meet Kevin’s sister.

I quickly stepped into the crowded, noisy room and walked over to one of the quilts with Hep C. Each patch had the name of a person with Hepatitis C. I looked for the patch my mom, her twin brother, my brothers and husband had shared to be included. It was not in front of me. I continued to read each patch on the quilt.

I stood at the front of the room, alone. I bowed my head. My eyes filled up and I realized, “Oh, dang, this is going to be harder than I realized.  I had no idea …” My thoughts raced, as I stood, trying to calm myself. I prayed to God, to my granny and to Kevin, for strength.

I wiped the tears from my eyes, put my shoulders back, chin up, as Mom taught me, and walked back to the sign-in table.

Bruce was talking to several people. I went to the line. A few people ‘nudged’ me to the front. I could hear “that’s Kevin’s sister …” Again, I tried to speak to the woman, smiling sweetly at me. She asked me to sign my name.

I was still shaken and shaking.

It took four attempts for me to gather the handouts, to sign my name, and to leave the table.

After I departed the table, someone came to give me the handouts I had left at the table. I smiled nervously and said, “It’s been a long day.” The man laughed, nodded with a big smile and hugged me.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

So many people were gathering around to introduce themselves, to share ‘how’ they knew Kevin.

It had all happened so fast. It had overwhelmed me.

I then asked where Tricia was. I wanted to introduce myself. When I met Tricia, she threw her arms around me. I remember telling her I was a little overwhelmed. She just threw her head back and laughed a wonderful laugh. She encouraged me to go to the Silent Auction table, to view the items, to meet the people. I gave Tricia a private family photo of Kevin, one which I had offered to share. Then I walked to the table to view the items.

A few minutes later, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I inhaled deeply composing myself and turned around.

The same man who had firmly grabbed my shoulder was there. 

This time he was calm, he smiled. He spoke slowly. He introduced himself, again. He did not hold my shoulder. He stood and spoke softly, slowly.  He shared that he knew Kevin; he truly wanted to meet me.  I listened, anxious, and my eyes filled up again.

Two years and nine months of solitary time to learn the truth, to listen and to honor Kevin, sharing the ‘truth’, it had all culminated in this moment.

I smiled to Bruce Burkett, President, Missouri Hepatitis C Alliance, when he said, “I really scared you, right?” I said, “Oh, yeah.” Then we laughed.

He shared, I listened. I shared, he listened. He learned about Kevin, the person/friend with whom he corresponded, and I learned about my brother, the veteran/advocate who shared and worked with Bruce, both veterans.

When I turned around, a woman was standing there. Bruce said, “I don’t mean to monopolize your time.  Others here want to meet you too.” The woman, beamed, her hands clasped together up near her chin. She was so excited to meet me.

When Dawn Stewart, Founder, Facilitator, Help & Hope for Hepatitis Support Group, shared how she knew Kevin, I hugged her. Then she told me she was nervous to meet me. The evening launched and it was very special to me; Kevin would have been proud.

Oh, what I would have given for him to have been there with us.

Many people approached, one by one, in a family, or in a small group, to introduce themselves to me. Many shared how they ‘knew’ Kevin Drue Donnelly.

Helen Clark, Co-Facilitator, LiverHope, Inc., told me that the night they learned Kevin had died, August 5th, 2000, they were having their state Minnesota convention. They had, as a group, paused, bowed their heads, praying for Kevin, together. Some of the people I met, I remembered their names from when Kevin emailed and spoke to me.  I remembered some of the stories Kevin had shared with me.

When I learned Steve Kersker, Hep and Vet Action Now, FL, was in the room, I went and introduced myself to him. I have great respect for Steve. He works with homeless people in St. Petersburg, Florida. One of the handouts in the packet, profiled his work. When I glanced it, I asked for him to be pointed out to me.  I waited to speak to him.  A kind man, gentle eyes, huge heart. Steve and I have a common bond, other than Kevin and Hepatitis C. Steve and I have each been in the trenches with the St. Vincent De Paul Society, assisting others. Steve has made the true commitment, and I was humbled to meet this wonderful man.

One of the items at the silent auction table was a glass barometer. I waited until the very end, until I signed my name. I had always wanted one. A man watched me enter a bid. I wondered if it was perhaps the person I had just ‘over-bid’.  After the auction finished, he approached, introducing himself. Ed David, aka, Brightstra, ‘knew’ Kevin.

He wanted to know if I had ‘gotten’ the barometer. I apologized and shared how I had always wanted one. He laughed and said, “Oh, no, you’re Kevin’s sister.  I want you to have it.” He shared how he knew Kevin, both veterans. Listening to Ed, I realized, yes, this was one of the people who truly knew Kevin, as did a few.

The favorite part of my evening was ‘pure Kevin,’ as I call it.

Two ladies approached and waited. When I looked over, they said, “We want to meet you.” The people I was speaking to, departed.

I looked at the two ladies, smiling and eager to meet me. All evening people shared incidents, moments, memories, good times and sad times that they had shared with my brother. I waited, for yet another memory to be shared.

They smiled and at the same time said, “We want to know who Kevin is.  Who is Kevin? Everyone seems to know him; we want to know who Kevin is?”

I threw my head back, laughing. These ladies were the individuals that my brother had labored to assist. When I shared a brief history of Kevin, his research, Hep C, they told me they were new to this world. One woman said this was the first time she had been in a group where she had ever told anyone she had Hep C. She confided to me, tears suddenly in her eyes, she was ashamed to have Hep C. She had never told anyone. She felt “dirty”. The other woman quickly shared why she was at the convention. I reached out to hug both of them; they reached out to me; we had (us) a group hug.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I shared what I knew, third-hand, from my brother. I knew people in the states where they lived, who were in the trenches. (Out of all the states in the U.S., these two ladies lived in states where I knew people in the Hep C world who could and would help each.) The ladies greatly impacted my evening, and I am honored that they had waited to sincerely ask: “Who is Kevin?”

One teen approached me that evening. He stood, hands in his black jean pockets, black leather jacket, silver piercings in his ear (and maybe face), spiked hair, his head down. He said, “I’m sorry about your brother.”

He was so serious, I teased him, softly, “You didn’t do anything to him, did you?” I was hoping to lighten the moment.

He looked at me sincerely and said, “I read his work when he was alive. He also helped my parents after one parent gave Hep C to the other parent from blood on the kitchen counter.  He helped my family. I’m sorry that he died the way he did.  I’m sorry.” I stood taller, extended my hand to shake his hand. I thanked the young man, stunned, again.

One woman gave me a gift to give my Kevin’s mother.

She said, “give this to her and thank her for having Kevin.”

I told her that my mom would truly be touched. She hugged me, and I tucked the gift under my arm, for Kevin’s mom.

Three and a-half hours later, I was still meeting people who ‘knew’ Kevin. The ‘butterflies’ were gone. My ‘fears and anxieties’ abated with a quick, gentle wind, they vanished. Now there was laughter, a few tears from new friends who shared moments with me; also, many tears from many veterans shared private moments about my brother. It was a very special evening.

I had a small tape recorder. When people shared very personal moments with me, I asked their permission to record their conversation. We had our own ‘Q&A’ about Kevin.

This evening had become a fact-finding, heart-filled evening for me – for many of us.

When I went back to the room with the items from the Silent Auction, one of the hotel employees wanted to know ‘who’ I was.

He said, “The staff here all know (sic) that you are a celebrity here.  What did you do to become such a celebrity here?” This evening continued to unfold, unpredictable with sincerity truly expressed, funny, sad and emotional.

This was very humbling. It was so bittersweet.

What I would have given to have listened to Kevin during and after his visit to that gather – and not to have been in that room that night? A lot.

What did I take with me from that room that night, I know to be much more than a lot.

It was ‘everything’.

My mom and Dad, my mentors and pillars in my world, they were all right. 

I did ‘have’ to go. Just as I ‘had’ to go to the funeral, I ‘had’ to attend this gathering, rally.

Here there was much love – love and a true connection to each person who attended – the connection was created in real-time, once each person entered the room.

Back in my own room, I thanked God, prayed for each new friend I had met.

    * A new world had opened, as quickly as my brother had departed.

I read until 1:00 a.m. reading all the handouts, reading all the info I had printed about Hep C.

I ended the evening reading Steve Kersker’s material. His material really touched my heart.

I really ‘wanted’ to get ‘it’ right this weekend. I prayed not to do or say anything that might appear to be naïve.

I prayed, as an outsider, to be able to help others with Hep C, to show that family members of people with Hepatitis C, truly care. As a family member, we are not perfect, we all have our own problems, but we do love the person with whom we shared so much from childhood.

And we do miss you when you have left.  Amen.  ©

“Taking It to The Streets
Take this message to my brothers, you will find him everywhere.
Where people live together … I ain’t blind,
But I don’t like what I think I see …
You telling me things you’re going to do for me …
We’re Taking It to The Streets.”   The Doobie Brothers

Friday, May 23rd, 2003, everyone met to participate in the “Rally on the National Mall.” I spent the day in the business center, writing, rewriting what I would share. I now was not anxious. I just wanted to get this ‘right’. I still had yet to write the eulogy. All my energy had gone into Thursday p.m. and speaking ‘for’ Kevin today.

We met at 1:00, the scheduled time for “Guest Speakers.” I stood with Bruce and Dawn.

I listened to people tell me how a black limo had gone by, and a window was rolled (buzzed) down ( ! ), and Vice President Chaney had waved at them during their March.

I remember the intro and the first speaker. I believe I was the second or third speaker. Sooner than I realized, my name was called.

There was ‘no’ time to get nervous. I went to the podium, speech in hand, a black and white photograph of my brother, and a long yellow-stemmed rose.

A broadcast camera was filming all speakers, sponsored by LOLA, Latino Organization for Liver Awareness.  Marc, Cinex Video, Washington D.C., requested each speaker to hold the large mic to their voice, so the sound would be enhanced as each speaker was filmed.

I stood in front of the group.  Not a sound, did I hear.

People sat in chairs, some with legs crossed, elbows on their knees as they leaned forward, seated on the carpeting.

I began my ‘sharing’ as I held a black and white photo, 8 ½” by 11” photo of my brother, in the air. I held it silently, moving it slowly, left to right.

I remember beginning: “This is the person you emailed. This is who you phoned. This is the face of my brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly.”

Why?  I gave him my Word.

As I spoke, one to two minutes into the speech, I started to shake, noticeably.  I just shook. I stopped speaking and bowed my head; the room was silent as each person waited, silently.

The reality of 2.5 years of his horrible illness and suffering, what I could not share and what I could, the two years and nine months since his death, it all rushed into one moment, as I looked out to everyone, waiting for me to speak.

I remember asking for water. I was handed a glass of ice water. I took a sip, composed myself, threw my shoulders back, thought of my mom, and inhaled.

I began by thanking Kevin’s widow, his second wife whom he married September 7th, 1990, Tina [Justine] Velocci Lomonte Donnelly. 

Had she ever given the Hepatitis community his research, shared and/or returned his email address book, I would not be standing here.

Had his second wife, an Army RN veteran, ever given my parents one phone call in two years and nine months or returned the few items, not of monetary means, but personal items of my grandparents and parents, I would not be here.

I did not commit myself to this path — upon Kevin’s death.

I committed to Kevin, only to listening, if I could, just as he had asked. I committed to Kevin, only to witnessing, if I could, to how many of his predictions, came true, just as he had asked when we last hugged our last hug in front of his residence in Lindenhurst, NY.

As Kevin’s only sister, I committed to myself to continue to love my youngest brother, knowing when I left him that last time, I would never see him again.

He was passionate; the Hep Radio, as I called him, All Hep, All The Time.

He was passionate about veterans, Hepatitis C, the truth, respect, honesty, professional medical treatment, true professional ethical medical treatment. I listened and listened to inaccuracies and to unproven statements until one event occurred. That event was the day I learned that the rank on his tombstone was incorrect.

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly was given a tombstone for a Second Lieutenant – paperwork confirmed and delivered to Calverton Cemetery by his wife, Tina [Justine] Velocci Lomonte Donnelly.

That one moment is still frozen in time for me. It caused me to stop and focus. I sat down on the floor and pulled out all my notes, just as Kevin had done one day. Kevin’s moment occurred when he read copies of his military vaccinations.

The copy Kevin received and the original copy he had from his military service, were different. Kevin’s life shifted in that one moment. I reviewed all the notes, handwritten and typed, just as Kevin had done one day.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I started to pull together my emotions, my focus and my newer questions, just as Kevin had done, one day.

Without realizing it, I did just what Kevin did. My “enough” went off. I now wanted Truth. I now wanted Facts. I now wanted Respect for my dead baby brother. I began to ask questions. Each question, whether answered truthfully or not, created another question.

“When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
How does it feel to be on your own?
With no direction home.
Like a complete unknown.
Like a rolling stone.”  Bob Dylan

Just like Kevin, I then pursued truth, facts, respect and honesty.

Just like Kevin, when I found out that ‘what’ my family had been told, and what Kevin had predicted regarding his research had, in fact, occurred –after his death, even the prediction that after his death, all of his cats would be taken to the animal shelter, the first day it was open for business.  His research would not be returned, items important to Kevin would not be returned to the Hep C community or to his parents. Those moments and those actions, caused me to turn my focus to a new path, a new direction.

I narrowed my focus, like Kevin, then – only seeking the ‘truth’.

When one year passed and the computer he worked on day and night was never shared, his research or even the email address book that members of the Hepatitis C community had offered to purchase,

One year to the day, I published, stunned and fearful, yet I leaned into the wind and published: “The Truth — He Was a Brother, A Vet, And He Died Before His Time.”

I leaned forward; I leaned into the wind. It was the kindness of strangers that helped me to stand tall, helped me to learn ‘how’ to succinctly share the Truth. They said “Never forget.  Never forget.  Honor your brother.  Never forget.”

**** And for the first time, I answered honestly, with respect, what many had whispered about. ‘How’ we heard about the news of his death, what Kevin’s birth family was told, what the documents reflect when he died alone and was found, alone, in the residence, August 5th, 2000.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I shared truthfully, honestly, factually. I shared about his suffering, what others did not know. I shared ‘what’ I could, aware I was being filmed. I shared with the audience that Kevin truly believed that the only good thing about Hepatitis C was the common bond, the family, ‘it’ created.

I had met people in the room this weekend who told me that they would ‘not’ give back the disease of Hep C, for the friendships that they now had. It was as Kevin might have wanted, I hope.

I shared that the ‘best’ years of Kevin’s life, he always said, were those years in the military. He thrived in the military, and he had great respect for the military and for veterans.

Captain Kevin was in the military 24 years and eight months.

A letter denying his promotion to the rank of ‘Major’ arrived at his residence the day before his funeral, August 7th 2000.

Kevin never saw the letter, but he knew it was coming. He wanted his promotion.

Kevin very much wanted to stay ‘in’ the military, but he was pushed out. The facts reveal this, too.

After his diagnosis and research, Kevin always said, “I will always remember that day, and how this happened in Germany.”

As teens, he and his ‘buddies’, he said, laughed about the shot, which they felt would ‘improve’ their health. They laughed how they would get over the ‘symptoms’ when they were first hospitalized “real quick”, with all the technology they had in 1978. Kevin would always add:  “But I was foolish.” Kevin used that say he would much rather had died in the battlefield than have to go through this misery.

“That which opposes, produces a benefit.”  Heraclitus

I remember some laughter from the people listening. I remember some applause, when I said I would not go to the corner with my head bowed; I would stand tall, and I would be proud of my brother. I remember applause, and I felt my stomach turn.

“No matter what they say , they’ll see in time, I know.
When destiny calls you, you must be strong.
I may not be with you.
They’ll see in time, I know.
Just look over your shoulder,
I’ll be there …. always.”  Phil Collins

I remember saying that I knew ‘a’ Dr. Cecil was in the room and I hoped to meet him.

Kevin had been working, August 4th, 2000 with Phyllis Beck preparing the groundwork for a clinic to help veterans with Hepatitis C.

Two years to the night of his death, August 5, 2002, Dr. Cecil went online to assist veterans, prisoners, and people with Hep C.

I sponsored the event:  Phyllis, Dr. Cecil and Kevin’s goal became a reality two years to the night of his death, one year ago tonight.

When Kevin was here, he spoke of his love for yellow roses.

Kevin loved yellow roses and commented how, with time, they would look ‘jaundice’, as Hepatitis C people look jaundice with the progress of the disease.

He used to say: “Even though we may look yellow, we still have the ‘beauty’ of a rose, the fragrance of the rose.”

Kevin used to say: “The yellow rose is a good symbol for Hepatitis because even though ‘we’ are sick, there’s still something beautiful about us, and we can still blossom and grow as good people in the world.”

Why?  I gave him my Word.  ©

Approximately 25 minutes later, I remember bowing to the audience. I cannot share with anyone, even my family, how ‘a’ weight was immediately lifted.

The silence – not being able to share in the hopes that the Hep C community would receive what was truly theirs (i.e., Kevin’s research and address book from his office, 742 Hancock Place, Lindenhurst, NY) – the hope that my parents and family would receive the few items they requested from what was truly theirs – it had all been released.

Now I shared, honestly, still holding back some ‘truth,’ as needed.

Information, details, facts are documented and stored.  I will continue to share, respectfully, yet honoring Kevin, his work, his commitment and those with whom he worked for 2.5 years.

When I gathered his picture, the long-stem yellow rose, my notes, and hurried away from the podium, I remember Helen Clark rushed to hug me, before I was near my seat. She spoke words of encouragement. Dawn hugged me; Bruce hugged me.

I handed the yellow rose to Dawn saying, “I know Kevin would want you to have this.”

I sank into my chair and dropped my head, very low. I wanted to cry, to release the emotion. The next speaker had started. It was time to listen and to focus on others.

Later, as I walked to get a bottle of water, a man introduced himself, hugging me as he spoke. He was Dr. Cecil.

He wanted to speak to me. I remember whispering, “the speakers are still speaking; maybe we can talk later.” I did not want to appear rude to the speakers.  Dr. Cecil giggled, agreed, saying, “I’ll see you later.”

That afternoon, whenever I walked or stood, people approached, hugged me, touched me, shook my hand. 

When the speakers ended, and people began to depart, men stood, waiting to speak to me. Many shared that they were veterans; they had tears in their eyes. A few, openly, wept on my shoulder, sharing their emotion at having Hep C, thanking me for my commitment to a family member. They wiped their tears from their cheeks with one swift movement, often an elbow.

The veterans were not embarrassed for crying crocodile tears; they were truly grieving. I was honored to stand and witness, as Kevin’s Sister.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

One man with Hep C, told me his brother has Hep C. His brother, who was “wealthy,” had been able to ‘get’ a liver transplant. This veteran was on the list. After listening to me, he was going to try and make things better with his brother, with whom he was very angry.

I listened, watched as he wiped his tears, and I said, “Well, he may still be an ass when you go home. Time is the only test. He won’t change because you came here and you changed.”

The veteran agreed, laughing; yet he said that he was going to try to rebuild their relationship.

I stayed until there was no one waiting, wanting, to talk to me.

I felt a duty to stand and listen, to honor each person for their emotions, their pain.

As I left, people standing in small groups, spoke to me, handed me notes. It was all so humbling, truthfully, humbling.

I went back to my room. I thanked God for having survived the day and prepared for the “Dinner.”

In the hotel lobby, there were two young adults, seated in a corner. They were very alone. They appeared nervous.

I walked over, asking: “Are you here for a special group, a meeting?” Yes, they were.

The young man and young woman, both talking at the same time told me they had driven several hours to attend a convention, but could not find it. They did not speak the words “Hepatitis C.”

I asked if they were here for the Hep C group.  Yes!  They had come for the speakers. I told them the speakers had been in the afternoon and the dinner was ‘now’… They were very nervous.

I asked if they wanted to be my guests. I shared that this dinner was a ‘paid’ function, and asked if they wanted to dine. “No,” they wouldn’t eat; they didn’t have the money and they weren’t hungry. I would have paid for their dinners, yet I saw great pride.

Instead I said quietly, “I sorta know people here.  Just walk with me into the restaurant as though you’re with me. I’ll tell the restaurant staff that you’re with me; then I’ll introduce you to people from your area.”

I shared, “Now remember, these people have been together for over 24 hours.  Just think of this as sorta entering a private party –really late.” They both smiled, laughed nervously, I held their hands, we entered the restaurant.

Helen approached quickly, a seat had been saved for me with Dr. Cecil, Dawn, Bruce, and new ‘friends’… I looked to the young people with me and asked her if there any people were from Maryland.

I went to several tables before I was pointed to a table with people from the area of Maryland. ‘This’ is what my brother did. ‘This’ is what I do in my private world.

“And each day I learn just a little bit more.
I don’t know why, but I do know what for.
If we’re all going somewhere, let’s get there soon.”  Elton John

Kevin would have wanted the two ladies who did not know him and these two young adults to have been embraced into the Hep C world. This is what is important now.

I left the man with a cane and the pale woman after they were greeted at a table.

Later I looked over to see if they were eating, I would have quietly given a check to the group or hotel.

They sat, upright in their chairs; only glasses of water in front of them. They did not say good-bye when they left. They told me they had to drive home that night and had a long night ahead of them.

Still I wonder where they are now? Did they receive the information they sought? If not, can we still help the two people who drove for so many hours and missed the speakers because they were not given the correct times, yet they were so pleased so be among people “with Hep C,” as they told me.

The dinner was elegant. The company was wonderful. It ended quickly.

“A wonderful harmony is created when we join together the seemingly unconnected.”  Heraclitus

After dinner and a lottery, I remember Bruce stood and announced that the Senate Bill they had discussed earlier that day, a topic that emitted much emotion, now had a number, and he read the title of Senate Bill 1143.

“The more I look, the more I see.” Basia

“It is a possibility the more we know, the less we see.”  Sade

I remember one gentleman, from the South, stood and crossed the room. There was applause with the announcement.

I knew there were differences in opinions and watched in real-time as people applauded and shared publicly at this moment that they were ‘now endorsing the Bill.’ There would be unity (my words). I watched, I listened, I witnessed the applause, the laughter, the approval and the bond grew closer and tighter in their quest to accomplish their common goals for Hepatitis C.

The man approached Bruce and asked for the number of the bill, so he could write it down. He did not have a pen.

I watched Bruce hand this man a pen and watched as he, standing a few feet from where I sat, wrote the number of Senate Bill 1143 on the back of a white business card. It was a good moment. I must share that as I write this August 5th, 2003, there have been a few changes in opinions, differences.

My understanding of Senate Bill 1143 is that 14 Senators endorsed the Bill. The Bill is contained in 16 pages from the 108th Congress, 1st Session. My understanding is that Bill 1143, if approved, would share 300 million dollars over five years. A small portion of this bill says:  “This Act ‘may’ be cited as the ‘Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act.

It states in Sec.2. Findings:
“ Congress makes the following findings:

“Over 3 million individuals in the United States are chronically infected with the Hepatitis C virus (referred to in this section as ‘HCV’), making it the Nation’s most common blood borne virus infection. …

“Conservative estimates indicate that approximately 35,000 Americans are newly infected with HCV each year.

“HCV infection can cause life-threatening liver disease. …
“An estimated 2,400,000 to 2,700,000 people who are chronically infected with Hepatitis C are receiving no treatment.

“Conservative estimates place the costs of lost productivity and medical care arising from chronic Hepatitis C in the U.S. at more than Six Hundred Million dollars annually and such costs will undoubtedly increase in the absence of expanded prevention and treatment efforts. …”

“Federal support is necessary to increase knowledge and awareness of Hepatitis C and to assist State and local prevention and control efforts. …”

The Bill goes on to describe that it will “be guided by existing recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health;” and consult with the Director of the CDC and NIH.

Page 11 “Surveillance and Epidemology:
 … The Secretary shall promote and support the establishment and maintenance of State HCV surveillance databases, in order to …

“Identify trends in the prevalence of HCV infection among groups that may be disproportionately affected by Hepatitis C, including individuals living with HIV, military veterans, emergency first responders, racial or ethnic minorities, and individuals who engage in high risk behaviors, such as intravenous drug use; and …”

As I read this document, the paragraph above, leaped out at me. I could hear my brother, voice raised, asking: “Where is the ‘trend’ of blood transfusion, prisons, homeless, other sectors that are not included?

Page 14, “There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this part $90,000,000 (90 million) for fiscal year 2004, and such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2005 through 2008.”

 

        Why am I sharing this here, in the eulogy to my brother? Well, the hours, weeks, months, 2.5 years he worked to bring people and groups together, to raise awareness, to promote advocacy and education, I understand, is now splintered, after a possible Senate Bill has been proposed to assist HCV.

This pauses me to reflect on what really ‘is’ happening. What are the facts? Whom will be assisted and when?
Why would people endorse this and then later oppose the Bill that I watched people applaud.

“It’s all right to make mistakes.
You’re only human.
Inside everybody’s hiding something …
Take time to catch your breath and choose your moment.”  Dido

I need to share that upon my return from the trip to D.C., I received emails and read about the disagreement and efforts to change the Bill that 14 Senators endorsed.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I heard in D.C. about the handful of people who had flown to D.C. prior one week ahead of the march and rally. They worked each day to assist and educate legislators and senators about this bill.

“The sun is new each day.”  Heraclitus

Upon my return, I read about emails that now wanted the Bill changed.

My understanding for the change in the ‘winds of agreement’ after such public endorsement at the dinner, May 23rd, 2003, is due, in part, to the fact that the Bill will work with the existing Public Health set-up. This Public Health assistance currently assists with AIDS counseling and assistance.

“Cast your dreams, before they slip away.
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind with life unkind.
Good-bye Ruby Tuesday”  Rolling Stones

I was included in emails, and worked to understand, to comprehend that the basis, in part, for total disagreement to the Bill as it reads now, is that ‘the’ AIDS group, receives assistance and counseling through the Public Health offices.

This Act, ‘with the Hep C monies’ would work with assistance already in place that would continue to assist STD, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV, AIDS.

Excuse me?

As an outsider who listened to Kevin for so long, one who listened to understand after his death, and one who watched and listened to the unity at the dinner that evening, I worked to understand the differences.

People had worked so hard, endured so much, shared so much, gave so much, to have a Bill offering, perhaps, millions to assist people diagnosed with Hepatitis C. Perhaps I don’t understand the finest of fine points.

Perhaps I am unable to comprehend that 300 million dollars in funding over a course of years would help more than one group of people diagnosed with a horrible disease. But I am able to understand that this bill is on ‘the floor with no action possibly until Fall 2003.”

I understand a handful of letters have been emailed to Senators, very strong letters, opposing the Bill. I understand that people who worked together in the hopes of any funding, any help, any research for those diagnosed today and for those yet to come, now have gone to opposite ends of the field.

I know people who hugged each other in D.C., laughed together and who applauded together, now have ‘hurts’ from the strong emotions opposing this Bill – and I mean ‘strong emotions’ by a minority of people. The slippery slope is now even more slippery, folks.

Does it need be that if one disagrees, he/she, even if they understand that citizens of this free country have the right to differences, to differing opinions – are branded?

If one is unable to disagree and to continue to work together, will this hinder the progress of your work together?

Time will tell, veterans, and kind people. Time will tell.

“If one throws salt at thee, thou wilt receive no harm unless thou hast sore places.” Latin Proverb

To slip back into the moment of the evening, ‘we’ must go back in time to that night, back to the elegant dinner, that evening in D.C.:

Speeches, awards, certificates were shared, and as it finished, I thanked Tricia for the wonderful two days, before I headed back to my room. I had ‘a’ eulogy to write.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

Instead of reading facts, statistics, listening to television, I read. As I read, the eulogy worked itself into my mind.

It wrote itself. I tucked myself in, without calling anyone, without receiving one phone call, and I thanked God for the memories.

Saturday, May 24th, 2003, I rose early and headed off to the business center. I had a eulogy ‘in’ my head. I was scheduled to deliver it that evening and time was passing.

As I worked a young man came into the business center. He asked me if he could check his email. Computer time was posted in 20-minute increments.

Abruptly, he said to me, “Look, I only want to check my email. It will just take a few minutes, OK? So do you mind?” The tone and importance of what I was doing came rushing back.

“Let me remember things, I don’t know.”  Credance Clearwater Revival

I turned slowly, calmly, low voice, saying to him: “I’m writing the eulogy for my dead baby brother. It will just take a few minutes, and yes, I do mind.”

His face went white. He left the room, without speaking a word. He never came back. 

I wrote Kevin’s eulogy without any interruptions.

I will stop ‘sharing’ here tonight. I must honor Kevin, my brother, now. Tonight is ‘his’ night. I will share details of the evening and the wonderful, kind people who attended the vigil that evening.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

I will share how Ron opened the evening with prayer. I gave Kevin’s eulogy. Others shared.

I heard sniffles, heard people blowing their nose.

Names were read of people who died with or from Hepatitis C. We all held white candles that were lit, prior to the reading of the names.

We then went out into the night, as a group. A small group sang songs. Others watched the thousands of Harley Davidsons Rolling Thunder motorcycles thunder by as they arrived for the Memorial Day event the next morning.

We returned to the hotel. Pictures were taken of Eugene and I on his Harley, VIP parking in front of the hotel, and proudly guarded the entire time by veterans who attended the Hep C rally.

Eugene ‘posed’ me for pictures with Kevin’s Hep C patch.  He and I joked, hugged and sighed together, knowing Kevin would have approved.

Kevin would have enjoyed, laughed, shared, encouraged others to work together. Eugene and I knew, Kevin would have approved.

And that was enough for he and me.

I cherished each moment.
I thank each of you.
I thank Kevin, and I thank God for the strength that has been shared.  ©

“One thing I got to tell you is that you got to be free; come together right now over me.
Hold you in his arms, yeah, you can feel his disease.
Come together right now, over me.
Come together, yeah!” The Beatles

 

1www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

2003 – Happy Birthday, Captain Kevin, And Truth

Happy Birthday, Kevin Drue, 2003

By Kevin’s Sister

Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

“Why?   I gave him my Word.”

As my brother Kevin’s 44th birthday passes today, November 14, 2003; I bow my head, say a prayer, lean into the wind and share:

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, born November 14th, 1958, is greatly missed by his birth family, soldiers and friends who knew him personally and professionally.

As Kevin’s sister, I desire to share this past year has been one where we, as a ‘new’ family, continue to move forward, honoring Kevin’s life, which ended August 5th, 2000, too early, too sad, too quickly.

Kevin died with hepatitis – documented to result from military vaccinations – after the course of events and facts I’ve shared to be true.

For those invested and interested, you will want to know that I’ve met with a film director.

Kevin used to say:
“The only good thing about hepatitis is the family that it creates.”
I know many, many agree.
I did not understand this upon Kevin’s death.

I continue to share ‘facts’ which needed to be withheld, would be withheld and would be timely shared.
As the honorable time shortens and departs, new possibilities are created.
How sad they are being created.
How liberating it is to pull aside the black curtain and to share what transpired in his life and within his world.

Kevin’s birth family continues to heal.

We gathered for the 50th wedding anniversary of my mom and dad (a veteran) at my brother’s home (another veteran).

Kevin was greatly missed by each person, who remembered an athlete, blond-haired, bright green eyes, long eyelashes, a young man with big goals.

We spoke of him, often as we gathered.
I believe almost every man in attendance that day was a veteran.

My parents, siblings and those who ‘grew up’ with Kevin, continue to place one foot forward, one step at a time.

Though stunned from his sudden death, funeral, no eulogy, no obituary, incorrect rank on his tombstone, the actions, statements and opinions shared with Kevin’s parents and myself, to date not one phone call placed to his parents from Kevin’s legal family (in law, defined to me by the funeral director, cemetery personnel, detective, medical examiner, etc. as ‘widow’), we were respectful to others.

After the 2003 Washington, D.C. Hepatitis C rally, when I delivered the first and, to date, only eulogy since Kevin’s death, 2 years and 9 months after he was removed from the residence —  the action of his eulogy focused energy to continue honoring Kevin for all he shared and accomplished with others.

So many veterans shared.

Many cried, many shared, heart wide open.
They ‘get it’.

I continue to honestly answer questions posed to me about his personal life, the last few years of his life within the residence where he lived and communicated via email and on the phone with thousands upon thousands of veterans, hepatitis C patients, family members, journalists, media representatives, elected and appointed officials, physicians and individuals within medical professions, personnel in governmental bureaucracies, private and public institutions — the list of people with whom he communicated is astonishing.

My message tonight is one of hope.

As I wrote when you began reading this:   I recently had the honor of meeting with an accomplished film director.

I have kept my Word to Kevin, to my parents and to the people within the hepatitis C community.

Until what rightfully belongs to the hepatitis C community, Kevin’s library and e-mail address is returned, and until what rightfully belongs to Kevin’s parents (items not of monetary value, only sentimental), are returned to Kevin’s parents, I will continue this path.

This is my Word to my deceased youngest brother when we last hugged our good-bye.
This is my Word to those who were kind, helping me when I was alone, when I did not know how to look forward, when I needed the assistance of strangers to focus my life and this path.

So many people continue to urge me to share the truth, facts and this story.

My goal already accomplished, though compartmentalized, is that others will never live what I witnessed and experienced after Kevin’s diagnosis and death.

A path such as this creates the ability to become scarred — or to create tools for others to become educated with information to avoid history repeating itself.

I choose education and advocacy, as did Kevin.
I choose the truth about hepatitis C and Kevin’s life and death.

I know many adults and teens have read my messages and are preventing the ‘horror’ of what transpired in my brother’s life as he worked alone in his office, downstairs in the residence of a house where he died.

This has not been an easy road, folks.
Sometimes I sigh and listen, in the quiet moments.

Good must come from this.
To permit otherwise, would be dishonest and disrespectful to Kevin, my parents, all veterans and individuals diagnosed with hepatitis C.
It would also be dishonest to those who will contract this virus.

Did you know there’s a hepatitis J?
The virus mutates and continues to do so.

As I wrote two years ago, I documented in detail, placing the information in the hands of others, due to the ‘odd’ course of events and actions that began the night of his death.

Grief creates interesting emotions, as does anger and greed.

As Kevin’s only sister, I listened; I listened with intent and integrity.

During the meeting with the accomplished film director, I stated my goal of creating this true story into a movie, continuing to share and to advocate for veterans, hepatitis C, families living with hep C and families hoping to avoid the virus.

The CDC shares that over five million people within the U.S. have contracted this virus, a number that does not include current military personnel, veterans, homeless or prison populations.

Why do over five million people diagnosed with ‘any’ virus have to wonder why there is not more investigative reporting honestly sharing what this virus is, what is does, where it came from, where it may be going, and what will prevent the virus from being spread?

While we are asking questions, we need to include illnesses that occur with this virus and also those that result from contracting hepatitis.

I’m not a medical professional. I do know multiple complications occur with hepatitis C, which involve kidney problems, overall health issues; there may be depression, isolation, suicide.

Many of the illnesses that result or are created from hepatitis C and/or depression, do not include hepatitis as a stat, when the person is diagnosed or counted.
What a shame.

How does one track where we are headed, if we are unable to accurately track where we are and from where we have come?

Multiple diseases, symptoms and medical problems result from any disease affecting five million individuals, a number within only one country.

The public and those who follow the diagnosis of hepatitis in any of its virus stages, deserve to know origins, facts, truth and inaccuracies, which attempted to become facts.

Documentation, accurately sharing, and making a film to educate and to advocate, continues to motivate and to generate energy.

The sharing is factual and personal, stored in private places with multiple people, so we may sort what is correct, what is accurate and what is:  the Truth.

Thank you to so many who continue to share kind moments from my brother’s life.
You are the heroes, now.

You are the reason my brother worked so tirelessly.

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly truly was passionate about education, advocacy and assisting veterans and others.

May his path never be forgotten.
May you never tread upon our path.
May we move forward together.

I focus on truth; upon what will now help others, what will help veterans, hepatitis C patients, family members, veterans in prison, hospice patients, homeless veterans and individuals, and what has become a catalyst for honor and respect.

Happy birthday, Kevin.  I know we would have spoken today, November 14th.

After your hep C diagnosis, I sent you a fountain, shaped ‘as’ a mountain with pine trees planted along hiking trails, to symbolize the mountains you used to climb with Eugene, when you were members of the Catskill’s Mountain Climbing Club.

To date less than one thousand people have accomplished what you and Eugene earned.
You wrote me that the ‘durn’ (not the exact word used) fountain kept reminding you to ‘pee’ as your kidneys were failing.

You still found humor in the dark moments.

Your last birthday gift was a calendar sponsored by a wolf association, an animal you greatly respected for its survival instincts.

This year, I send you my love and the wonderful knowledge of knowing we are moving forward in creating the movie.

Charlie Rose, PBS television interviewer and most respected journalist, here we come.

If you have moments, e-mails and memories you would like to share to become part of this movie project, e-mail me, please.

With honor and respect, I will retain confidentiality upon request; I will share what is factual – what is the Truth.

God Bless,
Monette Benoit
Kevin’s Sister

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

Monette@ARTCS.com

2001 -6 Months: Wrong Rank on Tombstone for Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

Originally posted 3/17/01              http://www.oocities.org/hepvet/Kev6mo.html

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

 

This photograph was sent by Kevin’s sister
for us to remember him. He left us six months ago.
He is gone…but not forgotten.
 


I would like to share with each of you this
‘white light moment, frozen in time.’

And there we have it.  Wrong rank on Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly’s tombstone, forms confirmed to have been completed by widow, Justine Velocci Lomonte Donnelly, RN, army veteran, National Calverton Cemetery, Riverhead, NY.

Captain Kevin Donnelly was denied the rank of ‘Major’ – Kevin told me he knew the denial was coming. 

How do I know?  Tina showed me the letter, removed for a few moments from her purse, the evening of his 2-hour wake, Dalton Funeral Home.  That’s how I know.

And there’s that.

 

 

 

 

My hopes are that Captain Kevin’s research, his illness, his path, and this picture will assist people who are ill or those dealing with the illness of someone close to them. 

My hopes are that we will comfort those with loved ones – who are gone. Now, I desire to motivate people and to share facts through education that many people do care for each of you. As the sister of someone who died with HCV, I am affected forever.

I am not ashamed of my brother’s illness with Hepatitis C, HCV, or how my brother died.

I will honor my Word that I gave to Kevin.  This message is part of my honor, integrity, his sincerity.

A year ago tonight, Kevin was typing, researching, sharing phone calls and emails with many of you.

            Six months ago tonight, he looked skyward and left us forever.

Tonight, he watches as you read this note.

The picture of Kevin’s ‘resting spot’ reflects a bright white light, over the American flag.

My hope is that this will be viewed as a ‘sign’ to ensure that people should not forget; should remember that when individuals work together, everything … even bright white lights on a tombstone … are possible.

The rank in the tombstone photo with 2nd Lt., sadly, is INCORRECT,

but a new tombstone will accurately reflect Kevin’s correct rank, Captain Kevin Drue Donnellysometime next year.  Paperwork for incorrect rank completed by his widow, Justine [Tina] Velocci Lomonte Donnelly, a veteran.

Until the correct tombstone is placed over his casket and until all his research is returned to the HCV community, our goal is to move forward together, united in fighting for those with HCV and for a future where Kevin advocated and worked so hard to assist veterans, and to educate politicians, professionals and us – family members.

Thank you for all your prayers and notes that continue to arrive.

Together, we will make a difference.

I would like this picture to be a witness of a special gift to us from
Kevin ‘himself’.

The ‘white light’ that looks down from that photograph is a testament to
my brother’s strength in life and even in death.”

Monette Benoit

            Proud sister of a Veteran who fought the good fight, died with HCV,

            and one who is still grieving for the lost friendship with her brother.

 

 

1

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

 

2002 – Second Year Tribute: Still Listening, Still Waiting For The Truth – Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

Originally posted 8/5/02     http://www.oocities.org/hepvet/Still2002.html

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly

 

Still Listening, Still Waiting For The Truth, 8/4/02

By: Kevin’s Sister, Monette Benoit
Author:  “The Truth,” under the name, Monette Harrigan, 8/4/01

 

One year ago tonight, I finished my story, “The Truth,” about the life, death and resulting events since the passing of my youngest brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, 8/5/00.

I wrote honestly about the good, sad, the bad and the ‘odd’ since my brother was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. I also included moments that a sister still holds close to her heart; moments when a bright light burned within my brother; moments before Hepatitis C was known by the public or to myself.

Kevin had asked me to listen; he asked me to ‘try’ to document his predictions after his death.

I am still horrified how many of Kevin’s predictions became reality, even if temporary. Some I have documented back into the ‘inaccuracy’ arena; some I have not been able to change. Yet I document.

I often teased my youngest brother: “Oliver Stone and Watergate have nothing on you.”

Kevin would laugh and say:  “Just remember to help vets.  This time nobody is left behind.  Help the vets and their families.”  Through the sadness, grief and horror of the facts surrounding the death of my brother and the actions of others, I have continued to do so.

Many people have contacted me about making a movie to share “The Truth,” thus shall it be.

I have been approached about this often; I am still listening.

In public places, I have had my shoulder tapped by strangers who solemnly have said:  “You don’t know what you’re up against.”

I’ve smiled each time, chin up, replying:
“I have lost the loss that changes it all.  I flew alone to his funeral when my dad had advanced cancer surgery and my family ‘needed’ to stay with my parents.  I listened to inaccuracies and events that were attempting to become fact.  I sat alone in his wake. 

There was no eulogy.  There was no obituary. 

I stood in line for 20 minutes to get a map where his casket would be delivered after his widow abruptly departed the cemetery in the black limo. I waited in the hot sun for my brother’s casket to be delivered to the empty hole in the ground while grave diggers ate their lunch.  I have lost the ultimate loss, and I choose to be stronger and to stand tall.”

To date, two years now, Kevin’s widow has not returned the email address book from his computer requested by the Hep community, nor the research that was within the residence with offers to purchase such information and files with funds from the Hep community. 

She has yet to return the few items that my parents requested – those belonging to our grandparents and great grandparents, items important only to family, not worth monetary gain.

I still ask, head high, sincerely, for what is respectful to Kevin’s parents and his birth family.

I have the one note from his widow (one note in two years; to date, not one note to Kevin’s parents; not one phone call to Kevin’s parents) – one note informing me that legally I am entitled to nothing from Kevin’s second marriage to a woman for nine years.   Legally, Tina (Justine) Velocci Lomonte Donnelly is correct.

Yet I know there is a moral and proper code of responsibility to those who are grieving a lost family member – especially to Kevin’s parents.

While members of my family and I have been respectful of Kevin’s widow and her family, sadly, the same has yet, to date, to be shared for Kevin’s parents and family.

The truth, here, entails sharing what will help others, what will honor others.  The anger that one still retains, is the very bond that will keep us bound together. I have written this on cards for birthdays and holidays, respectfully, waiting and praying.

I will continue to request for what is honorable and respectful.

And I am still requesting to have a copy of his autopsy; one that can only be shared by the legal widow – a person who filed for divorce and had Kevin evicted from the residence two years ago tonight.

Yet, the law says I am unable to receive it.

I will continue to request for what is honorable and respectful.

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly deserves that the truth to be shared.

Kevin had predicted his autopsy would state ‘cirrhosis of the liver,’ not Hepatitis C. Kevin was not able to drink, did not drink alcohol.

Sadly, another prediction has inched further towards reality, another stat, another fact, another inaccuracy, not factual.

Kevin’s death and suffering is not in vain – not now.  The pain of my family and I – the pain has been hard to bear.

Looking back at my notes to the Hep C community since his death, I feel I opened the Kimono of my heart.

I was grasping for the hope that if one person, one family, one medical professional benefits from my sharing, then the outcome of Kevin’s illness, isolation, choices – good and bad, the pain and loneliness in suffering, lack of understanding of Hep C, depression and the ‘unthinkable’ – looking to the stars, to be gone forever, if one person would benefit, it would not be in vain.

Others must learn the truth documenting how this soldier of the military and a soldier in his life, lived helping others, critically ill struggled to help others, and died alone the night his wife had two sheriffs court evict him from the residence.

I am very proud of my brother.

There are moments when I know I could look over my shoulder and know the specific events that might have ‘changed’ the course of events, but I know that will not change the result.

What will change the result of Hepatitis C entering the life of my brother and my family is the education, sharing, advocating for others, for veterans, for family members, for prisoners, for homeless, for those who are lost and have no-one to listen.

Tonight is the night that one of Kevin’s goals will become a reality.

The last sunset in his residence, he was working with Phyllis Beck to open a Hep C clinic in Oregon and to assist veterans with Hep C who are imprisoned. 

That last night, Kevin and Phyllis were hoping to work with a Dr. Cecil, a professional whom both respected.

When I learned this week that the website Kevin had discussed on the phone with Phyllis, 8/4/00, still was not a reality, my ‘enough meter’ went off.

I prayed over how I may honor Kevin this the second year anniversary for his departure and for his sacrifice.  Thus I made a commitment, in Kevin’s name, to sponsor the building and hosting of the website that Kevin had wanted to become a reality. 

Phyllis has assured me that she will continue her dedicated work with veterans and prisoners with her informative newsletters, Dr. Cecil will be involved, and veterans and prisoners with Hep C will receive education and information that currently is needed.

The past two years have been bittersweet.

My choice is to help where I may,
to let others lead where they may.

As Kevin’s sister, I know the effects of Hepatitis C, lack of information, lack of family support within the home, what pain can do to everyone when choices are not shared or researched.

After Kevin’s death, I printed business cards with the website that he and LeighAnn Vogel worked to build: http://www.oocities.com/hepvet.

The card includes the title of Kevin’s “The Panama Story.”  I included on the card:
“If you can, please give to a hospice, Hep C Awareness Project or share a kind act with another.  YOU can save vets and families.  Why?  I gave him my Word.”

For almost two years, I have quietly handed the cards to people of all ages, sizes and colors.

People want information; they need resources to reference.

When people tell me they “know someone with Hep C,” I quietly hand them the card.

Others, kind strangers, have helped to build my strength.  Sometimes I share that I’m Kevin’s Sister, many times, it’s not mentioned, as it’s not important.  What is important is someone shared a spot of hope where others ‘could’ look to the future.

Thank you to all the individuals who contributed to Kevin Drue Donnelly’s Memorial Page. 

My parents continue to grieve and to heal and greatly benefited from each who wrote of moments that we could not know about.  Your strength, your sharing, your honesty, has helped many.

The Prison Coalition Website with Phyllis Beck and Dr. Cecil will become a reality. 

I am committed to advancing Kevin’s work within the veteran and Hepatitis communities. Education and advocacy will continue with the actions of others and by my efforts.

And I will continue to listen and to respectfully request that what belongs to the Hepatitis C community and what belongs to Kevin’s birth family, a request now two years in the waiting since 8/5/00, will one day be honored.

I will continue to share that I am proud of my brother, proud of his work and research, and I will continue to document.

Kevin Drue Donnelly’s legacy deserves nothing less than The Truth Now and for Each Tomorrow.

God Bless,
Kevin’s Sister
Monette Benoit
“Why? I gave him my Word.”

One day I will share why I chose the pen-name Monette Harrigan one year ago. The sequel to “The Truth” is continuing to be compiled.

And as I finish this, a thunderstorm that swiftly appeared is swirling outside.  Yet I know when it is finished, I know the sun will shine tomorrow and the education, advocacy will continue. How fortunate I am to have had a brother who had commitment to details and to facts.

Thank you for listening.

Thank you for permitting me to share as the windows are rattling from the storm outside.

I have faith that when the storm is over, there will be peace.

Veterans and people diagnosed with Hepatitis C will one day find peace; this is our goal.

 

 

1www.CaptainKevinDonnelly

2001 – He Was A Brother, a Vet, and He Died Before His Time

Originally published 8/5/01      http://www.oocities.org/hepvet/Kevin1yr.html

 

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

 

“He Was A Brother, a Vet, and He Died Before His Time”
Sequel to “The Panama Story,”
by: Kevin Drue Donnelly
www.oocities.com/hepvet

Monette Harrigan
Copyright 2001 Introduction: 

 

This poem and true story is a sequel to “The Panama Story,” written by Kevin Drue Donnelly, Captain, USAR.
My brother’s historical novel “The Panama Story” was written one chapter each evening – after his diagnosis.
This story has been printed in a larger ‘font’ (print), as my brother often commented that people with Hepatitis C, and other illnesses, ‘often’ have difficulties reading … and computer screens can be challenging.  Therefore, a size 18 font was ‘set’ to share this sequel. 
If you want to print my story, you can select a smaller ‘font’ to save paper or you may print this sequel in the larger print.  This is a courtesy that I have extended to you, resulting from my brother’s education and advocacy for others. This poem and true story is what my brother asked “a sister” to share.  This documentation and ‘sharing’ has evolved to include additional events from Kevin’s life.

I am sharing this for my brother, Kevin.I gave him my word.I would not be here, at this path, were it not for Kevin and his dedication to the people and families involved around Hepatitis C, HCV.

There are too many inconsistencies that have been created and shared, especially since Kevin’s death.

This what I desire:
To show the ‘intent’ and the path of Kevin in his work, his life, his research, his death.  I have included events that occurred within his ‘birth’ family and his ‘legal’ (now ‘next-of-kin’) family.

The fact remains that I am left with concerns about Hepatitis C, depression arising from a terminal disease, and about my brother’s research, much which has not been shared with the community and those with whom he worked closely.

My intent is to honor Kevin, although I am concerned for people who knew him during the last chapter of his life, the person that I knew my brother to be was not a saint, nor “fanatical” or a “crazy” person, as some (close to the circle) stated since his death, August 5th, 2000.

I have included personal e-mails, so others could ‘learn’ that my brother once had a bright light within him.

The e-mails I have included in this sequel, are only a fraction of what he shared with his sister and with others, once he was diagnosed with Hep C.

They reflect how his path, his life shifted, many of the shifts, not of his own making.

The tone of his e-mails, the education that grew as his research grew, the anger, frustration, hopelessness… much was shared with me then, and I now humbly, sadly, share with you.

These e-mails reflect who I knew my brother to be.

Others have had the opportunity to judge, some with information, others without, but my intent is to show the person who burned bright, and the person who knew he was fading, and the person that had his memory tarnished far too quickly, right after he died…

I wrote a poem for my brother; my private honor to a younger brother. (Kevin ‘hated’ to be called the ‘baby brother so I will also honor that choice, while he was here with me.)  When I began, I did not intend to share this with anyone.  It began as a sister’s way of sorting out her sorrows, her memories, her pain and her brother’s life and death.

After I wrote my poem, to further honor my brother, I began to insert facts into my poem that occurred – some sad, some oddly strange, some funny. Then his poems and his e-mails were gathered into a sequential form, to further elaborate on this sequel, a tragedy, but an honest, true story of a person who once had high hopes of helping others before he died alone.

The result of my gathering my thoughts, Kevin’s thoughts and the e-mails of those with whom he corresponded, is what follows.

A person who began strong, was frightened, then angered, then lonely. A person then was challenged by a cause.

Once he realized how alone he was, in fact, Kevin narrowed his focus to encompass a wider field.  That ‘narrowing’ meant he made choices.  He made exclusions, he asked questions why he was sick, and he worked to help others, once they learned they were sick with Hep C.

And when he looked up, often, there was still no one there for him to share his work with, a multitude of reasons further propelled Kevin forward.

Kevin then rallied others, he gathered purpose and steam. His e-mails reflect how that path increased, and sadly, they reflect when he became lost again… sinking further and further into the disease that no one seemed to understand at his time.

He was a person who did not choose this path, suffered with his disease and had his up’s and down’s in life, just like others.  He was a person who was not manic depressive, as some have stated and suggested. 

Though Kevin did receive counseling prior to his illness, earlier in his life, as have so many in this world, the diagnosis of manic depressive was never given to Kevin Drue Donnelly while in his personal life, his counseling sessions, his medical files, nor did the military service in his 24 years of service ever diagnose or classify him as having any psychological disorders.

Those that make misstatements that are not factual, are tarnishing the memory of a young man, 41 years old, who is dead, unable to reply from the grave.

I gave him my word that I would rebuild his library, that I would share, if I could… and I now open you and the world to the possibility of helping people with Hepatitis C – and also for family members who live with ‘their’ diagnosis.

My intent is to share… to let others read and ‘see’ there was once a younger man, unknowing of a Hep C world. A younger man who had hopes and goals.  A young man who then believed he could move the cause forward helping veterans and families with people diagnosed Hep C.

My intent is to share… there was one a young man who believed he could bring ‘light’ to the issues through information, through veterans, through professionals, through the press, through voting, through letter writing.

My intent is to share… there was once a young man who attempted to answer hundreds and hundreds of e-mails arriving from a global world, helping others, before he became so ill.

My intent is to share… there was once a young man who typed with a pencil in each hand; who once helped to build a website for veterans and ‘their’ families to concisely learn how and where to access information from the VA, the military and other sources.

There was once a young man who began to lose his battles, unknown to many, until very ill and very alone, he died, an older man at 41, believing he had no hope for a future.

My intent is to share… so that if one person will ever avoid any chapter of what I have experienced, as a sister, then my job will have been well done.

My intent is to share… I know that many have benefited as I have grieved, as I have shared ‘when’ and where I could,’ gathering facts, listening to inconsistencies.

I now ask you to open your heart and your mind and to know that my brother, Kevin, was a young man, a veteran, who died far too young, with too many ignorances (sic), too many prejudices, and one who died alone, suddenly, late … in the darkness, August 4th, 2000, at 41 years of age.

Some people will be hurt by my ‘sharing.’
But I hope and believe that in time, each will see the larger, bigger picture here. 

The issue here is:
There were wise choices, good choices, analyzed and researched choices, emotional choices, and yes, bad choices.

A sister’s sharing necessitates ‘sharing’ that Kevin had a “falling out” his with parents and members within his birth family, choosing his wife and stepchildren, when no choice was needed.

Kevin’s parents were very hurt by seven years of distance. His father and mother did try to ‘reach out’ to Kevin.

Sadly, Kevin made his choice, a choice that hurt others and created ‘hidden’ scars, to this day. And that choice, to keep a distance between he and his ‘birth’ family until his diagnosis, was a choice Kevin made.

Kevin wanted to spend time, his energy, with his second wife and her family.  Before his diagnosis, he repeatedly said:  “This is how I want to spend time.  This is how I want to spend my life. I can make a difference with this family here now…”

After his diagnosis with HCV, then Kevin reached out and back.

But as his work and research became so important to him within his world, with the time he knew he had, Kevin chose veterans and people with Hep C and ‘their’ families.  That time included time ‘for’ his parents, but still he made  choices to help others with his time and energies.

This fact must be shared if I am to ‘share’ with others. During the last chapter(s) of his life, Kevin made choices. Those choices are documented by family, ‘legal’ next-of-kin and by strangers.

To not address those choices here, would be a disservice to Kevin’s parents, who live with regrets and moments that are missing within their son’s life and memorials – a life and a time that others benefited from…

The death in a family, I have found, has also become the death ‘of’ a family.  The core of Kevin’s birth family has been shattered by inconsistencies, inaccuracies, facts, actions of others and of ourselves.

If one person can avoid pain that we have thus far been through, then Kevin’s death was not in vain.

If one family can learn from our experience, then Kevin’s death was not in vain.

If one person with Hep C and their family can avoid our path, then my sharing will have made our pain ‘not in vain,’ as it should be with Kevin’s death.

Something positive must come from Kevin’s work and this tragedy. 

Already there has been proof of this honest sharing… there will be more, and Kevin’s family will have helped others ‘sharing’ their pain and their loss. 

This must be so.

Perhaps one day, the possibility of a brother who asked his sister while saluting in the street, the last night she saw him, if he could be buried within Arlington Cemetery – perhaps one day, that possibility will become open.

Left hand over his heart, the other in full salute, he said good-bye to his sister, asking her not to cry ­- both aware this would be the last time each saw the other.

Arlington Cemetery has not been a reality to date.
Perhaps – one day.

Since Kevin wanted his story, “The Panama Story” to be shared for all veterans, all family members and all people affected by Hepatitis C, donations have never been requested.

Kevin wanted vets and their families to have access to information that was not tainted by money given for vitamins, cleanings, detoxers, medications, etc.

A database had to be developed where veterans and families could, anonymously, research this debilitating and quiet terminal disease.  The origins of the beginning of the Hepatitis virus became important to Kevin – after he realized how alone he was.

The medical community did not understand the Hep C ‘disorder’ or educate Kevin on this illness.

He sat in front of a doctor’s desk, a physician outside the Veterans Administration flipping through his file, to inform Kevin Drue Donnelly “You have Hepatitis C. You have one to two years to live, and you’re not a candidate for a transplant.”  Then the doctor wished Kevin “Happy Holidays,” on December 21, 1997.

Kevin’s quest to determine how he was infected began after phone calls were not returned, inquiries were not addressed, and he was repeatedly informed that “either you engaged in homosexual activities, intravenous drug use  or you did …” to have obtained the Hepatitis virus. 

Additionally, he received this information in writing, mailed to his home, 742 Hancock Place, Lindenhurst, N.Y.

As Kevin began to trace his military medical history, comparing it to what VA records reflected, he found disturbing differences.  Data had been inserted, facts changed and omitted. This further launched his research into the origins of his terminal diagnosis at 39 years of age.

Kevin and others learned that his troop had received the “precursor to the Hepatitis B vaccine infected with gamma gobulin… that did not work.  They were guinea pigs. 

His entire base was infected with ‘B’ and now they have ‘C.’  Their ‘B’ mutated to ‘C.’  The troop was quarantined in the hospital… then discharged when a local (Germany) clinic was needed.”

During Kevin’s research, other veterans began to reach out.  Their stories were uncannily similar to Kevin’s.  Many had, in fact, served their country. 

Many had, in fact, become ill during the service to their country.  Many were now, in fact, dying after a prolonged illness – some 20 – 25 years with a diagnosis not shared with servicemen and woman.  A diagnosis each was now, possibly, sharing with their spouses and children.

Since the numbers for people diagnosed within the U. S. and around the world with Hepatitis C are fluid and changing, exact numbers will continue to change as facts are shared.  The numbers are predicted to increase, and with no cure for this terminal illness, you will be affected.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, does not include Hepatitis C as a disease.  The VA, Veterans Administration, which controls military records, does not share their Hepatitis statistics and internal numbers.

Many of the drug companies are vested heavily in large amounts of money to treat Hepatitis C.  A cure may be shared, one day.

But questions need to be asked now of elected officials, the media and journalists.  TV stations that are owned by large corporations – many have ties to drug companies.

One could begin by asking:
Why is a news story that currently affects over 5 million, not being shared on news programs?

AIDS, HIV, was officially declared a disease in the U.S. on June 5th, 2001.  One should ask:
How many years did the medical profession know about this disease, and why did so many suffer until June 5th, 2001 until it was declared a ‘disease’?

I am a sister.  My brother became ill with Hepatitis C, HCV.  He suffered with Hep C.  He died, alone, helping others with Hep C.  He was not a saint, nor was he a hero to some.

He was my brother, and I gave him my Word.

My goal is to help you to share facts and myths of Hepatitis C within your kitchen and within your living room.

Women throughout history have altered the course of events.

If each person who reads this story were to voluntarily donate $2.00 to advance and educate the public, the course of this horrible disease would be altered. Families would be affected.  Veterans would be assisted.

Since the number of 5 million, does not include veterans (men and women), does not include prisoners (many released on early parole), does not include homeless, does not include people in rest homes who received transplants prior to 1992, the number of 5 million, sadly, will expand.

Hep C is now called “The Silent Epidemic.”

How can something be ‘silent’ when 5 million are affected; millions more will live with family members who are afflicted?  And those numbers do not accurately reflect people currently diagnosed, and those who do not yet know?

David Crosby of Cosby, Stills, Nash and Young, has Hepatitis C.  He was given a liver transplant in 1994.  Did his celebrity (and money) status help to receive a transplant?  I’m not wise enough to know that answer. 

Yet, I ask: How many others need medical attention that they do not receive?

Did you know that there is a Hepatitis G?  The disease is a virus; it changes.  Money should be used to educate children, teens, professionals, retired populations, the medical community, nurses, veterans, mothers, sisters, brothers, spouses.  The list is endless.

I ask that you share this poem with others.  Please share with others.

There are many choices and many venues where you may choose to give back, to assist others and their families.

Please consider giving a donation to the Hospice Foundation, www.hospice.com.

Phyllis Beck also worked closely with Kevin Donnelly.

You may choose to give of your time, you may choose to share kind acts with another, you may choose to make a monetary donation.

You also have the right to choose to do nothing.  If you choose ‘nothing’, God’s speed to you and your family members.

Too many have suffered.  Unfortunately, you will know someone.  The numbers speak too loudly.

General MacArthur said:  “Old soldiers never die.  They just fade away.  This 41-year old soldier died, suffered for years, before his sudden death.  Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly never had a chance to fade away.

And my hope and prayer is that someone in your family will be spared the terminal diagnosis that a sister and her family struggled to witness… during Kevin’s illness and long after his death.
Sincerely,
Kevin’s Sister.
“Why?  I gave him my word.”

“The Panama Story” originally was written as a short story.   

Kevin sent this story to less than a handful of people.  He sent it to his sister Sunday, March 29th, 1998, with the note:

“Since you have worked so hard to assist others, I have written a bedtime story for you to dream about.  O.K., now your story!  Here are your milk and cookies, (Kevin hands over a warms plate of homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies and a small chilled glass of milk with a napkin)…

You are teleported back to:  PREFACE:
Time: Turn of the Century (1898)
Place: Washington, D.C.
Person: Colonel Teddy Roosevelt, Jr.

“Your vision of America is not complete yet.  You have returned from Cuba, where the US charged up Kittle Mt. (actually, History says San Juan Hill, but that is not true).  Your ‘rough riders’, a group of rich kids that you grew up with on Long Island are now your military subordinates on horseback …”

The short original ‘Panama’ story ended with:
“Once the ‘story’ was explained to the Congressman’s aide, a new sense of urgency developed.  She was upset to hear that 1/2 of all VA patients are HCV positive.  Also that some prisons have almost 80% infection rates. … Five minutes after hanging up with her, a government van turned around in front of house.  There are no federal facilities around. All information is instantly sent by Kevin to 3-4 different places.”

Kevin then awakes from his dream:
“Oh, well, fortunately it is only a story!  Otherwise it would have sinister overtones. Kevin tippy-toes out with milk and cookies.  :-! ”

Kevin Drue Donnelly’s short story was photocopied, rapidly shared with many, many people. It was left in Veterans Administration offices, hospitals, military offices. It was ‘appeared’ in clinics, homes, businesses. As the story grew to be shared around the world, Kevin was repeatedly asked to expand his story.

Kevin’s ‘story’ evolved to 20 chapters, ending with an epilogue. He even emailed a chapter in the late hours on Easter Sunday, 1998.

He said, “Veterans and people afflicted with Hepatitis waited in rooms alone … they are waiting to receive the next chapter, and I’m not going to disappoint them.”

He ended 20 chapters of “The Panama Story” with a footnote:  “A story written after 90 days of research, from
1 Jan, 1998 to 31 March, 1998 by Kevin Drue Donnelly (diagnosed 12/21/97).”

When ‘a sister’ received the 16th chapter, she kiddingly wrote him, “What?  Are you writing ‘War and Peace…?’” And she continued to promised to fulfill his wishes, his request that the Hepatitis C research, the study, the advocacy, the education would continue after his death.

Sadly, a sister now writes honoring his last wishes, remembering a brother with whom she laughed, loved and had ‘sibling’ skirmishes. She continues to hold many, many personal memories.

Kevin had asked two things of his sister.

First he asked that she maintain his library of research. He was still unsure where the facts, data would lead him, but he wanted assurance that material would be stored, filed and shared.

His concerns began as he amassed computer information.  He backed up files, made copies, shared with a handful of people.  Later, his concerns grew to include the fear that his work would never be shared with others, would be destroyed, lost forever.

He asked his sister to promise to keep his work. That was the only promise he ever requested, waiting for a verbal response.

A sister is now trying to honor that promise since the computer he worked on, has not be shared with others, the Hepatitis community and/or family – one year to his death.  Some have even been told that the computer is blank, all his work has been removed from the hard drive.

Kevin’s wife will not share his listserve, the hard drive or computer.

Offers have been made to purchase Kevin’s material and/or the actual computer with funds from within the Hepatitis community.  The computer remains with Kevin’s wife, no computerized information has ever been shared with others within the Hepatitis community, to date.

To honor that promise, a sister reopened Kevin’s e-mail:  KEVINDCPT@prodigy.net. (( now closed by podigy )) 

Email may be returned now to: Monette@ARTCS.com

Prodigy corporate headquarters has been an invaluable support, assisting a sister to open his e-mail.

This was a noble request from Kevin, to recreate the library that he was sure, predicted with others, would vanish after his death.  Sadly, he was accurate.

If each person who received information, research and personal e-mails would ‘hit’ their reply key, they can now send Kevin’s e-mail back to a library that will be rebuilt.

The biggest obstacle is: sadly, many people that Kevin wrote to and assisted, have died.  Others are in the later stages of their terminal illness and battles with Hepatitis C.

When Kevin was doing much of his work, people were ashamed of their diagnosis with Hep C. There was shame, and many that wrote and worked with my brother, did not want others to know they had Hep C or were working behind the scenes to advance the research and advocacy.

The loss of Kevin’s listserve and his work, is tragic in that millions of people would benefit from the ‘facts and truth.’

If you have someone in your family who had Hepatitis C within the years 1998 and 2000, and/or worked in the military, medical and/or political communities, you may very well have e-mail on your computers from my brother.

You may hold vital information to rebuild Kevin Drue Donnelly’s library, the only request that he insisted, repeatedly, upon having a verbal reply from his sister.

A sister worked to honor his second request, “to listen.”

He did not ask her to promise, only asked her to listen, if she could, if she would. He was adamant that specific events would occur. He had predictions that sent chills down the spine of a sister, her husband and others. Sadly, he was far too accurate.

After the funeral, she listened, stunned. She listened to people, to his ‘legal’ family, next-of-kin, to people at the funeral, to strangers, to detectives, military personnel, funeral employees, people asking to remain anonymous as they shared detailed information.

She sat, listening, stunned. And, yes, she began to have nightmares from his predictions, the listening, the computer that hasn’t been shared, the lies, inaccuracies, the incredible events that began to occur in her life …

To help her sort the details, inconsistencies, misstatements, she began to document the events – to find sense of her world, listening after Kevin’s time. She shared events as they occurred, asking people ‘please remember this …  in case anything happens  …’ as she moved forward.

She spoke to veterans, professionals, stewardesses, strangers, legal advisers, kind adults, young adults.

She struggled to piece together words, to share sentences, to share ‘the’ truth.

The reasoning that arose originally was that if she could share with a stranger, perhaps they could share wisdom, comforting words, a smile so needed – her own birth family, stunned and shocked.  Kevin’s ‘legal’ family so removed …

Veterans came forward to warn her of their fears. 

Employees who worked with the federal government (and ex-employees) warned her. Strangers came forward to warn a sister: “Be careful.  Be very careful… you don’t know what you’re up against.” Odd and strange events began to occur in her life.

Those moments, those memories, remarks that were shared by professionals and strangers, is what helped to create the ability to listen intently, then to rebuild.

She permitted each day to mourn a brother, to gather information to share his work that’s not been shared and to listen.

One person wisely said, “Mourn your brother, honor your brother, never forget, never forget, move forward.”

One day while going through some of Kevin’s papers from his early research, a sister viewed one piece of paper among the few. 

One resume listed “COMMENT” at the end of page two.  “Have a flair for getting things done, like a challenge and am willing to work hard.”

As she photocopied his papers to share with others to have others storing copies of work, she saw ‘comment,’ threw her back laughing.

A young man working at the store with the photocopier, came over; a sister pointed to this sentence. He had watched ‘a sister’ stand in front of the machine for hours, and now he threw his head back laughing.

Yes, “flair” could only have been written by her brother.

Youth and enthusiasm, a true commitment to the future.  Another milestone to move forward, another sign to continue battles so many had already lost.  She continued to copy papers, head down, smile on her face.  Her brother had come back within that one brief moment…

Kevin Drue Donnelly’s time is over, but his gifts to others, the painful truth for others (family, friends and strangers), his legacy begins.

He never wanted to be a hero.

He created many goals: to continue his career in the military, continue backpacking, visit Alaska, to raise a family, not all in that order.
None of those goals will ever be fulfilled.

A new time, perhaps an epoch, a new life without Kevin began – sadly, for some, before he departed this world forever, the late evening of August 4th, 2000.

Thus, shall this sharing become a new beginning –
sharing ‘truth,’  per Kevin’s wishes, to help others where Kevin could not.

“Why?  I gave him my word.”

A sequel to this sequel has already been written to contain information that was not timely, not wise or permissible to share.

That story is already with others … as we wait … for the beginning of a new beginning that includes sharing, truth and no more waiting.

“Why?  I gave him my word.”

The time is now 2001.
A ‘sister’ now shares with each of you:

“Here are your milk and cookies, (Monette Benoit hands over a warm plate of homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies and a small chilled glass of milk with a napkin)…


YOU are now teleported back in time to a world near Kevin’s diagnosis with Hepatitis C…

 

1www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

2019 – Captain Kevin Donnelly, 19 years; Update; Truth; Yes, More Facts

August 5, 2019, update for Captain Kevin Donnelly is ready and will be expanded.  Why?  I gave him my Word.

Though Kevin is gone now 19 (!) years today, his research-work that ‘did’ disappear, his predictions that did ‘not’ disappear, truths and actions of people around him near his death and thereafter -when combined with facts how veterans and families advocated for HCV, Hepatitis C, treatments – the compilation reveals amazing acts by strangers, family, estranged family (we all have ’em, yes?), the medical community, and companies -large and small.  The “dollah” does affect many, as Kevin predicted.

Kevin -and others who died with HCV- to include my (our) dad, Army veteran, would be amazed how wide and how far challenges unfolded.

Neither Kevin’s August 2000, nor Emmett James Donnelly’s September 2011, death certificate list Hepatitis C.   Nope.  Neither.  Nadda.

Yet, both, each veterans, died with Hep C, as evidenced in all medical reports and by multiple doctors.

Diagnosed, late December 1997, Captain Kevin was given a death sentence of approximately 2 years by the doctor reading from a clipboard.  Kevin was in his mid-40s.  Really.  Damn.  From?  You’re not supposed to ask, we’re told.  Source: military vaccinations.  Documented.

Diagnosed, years later, my dad, was told over the phone (!) about his HCV and advised to come in “immediately” for Interferon treatments.  Dad was in his late-70s.  Really.  Damn.  From?  Again, not supposed to ask.  Source: blood transfusions in hospital.  Documented.

LeighAnn Vogel, Army veteran, was the go-to-person -my mom and I reached out to prevent Dad from  accepting the “many” offers to “immediately begin” Interferon, via new “telephone diagnosis.” Damn.

LeighAnn Vogel passed January 2015.  She needs to be saluted for her tireless advocacy and work -with Captain Kevin (they were like siblings who could laugh ‘and’ argue in a heartbeat and stay focused).  She continued the HCV work, post-Kevin’s death.  LeighAnn Vogel also fought for veterans and families, changing the course of this disease and treatment possibilities.

People now diagnosed with HCV have medications, cures (!), and possibilities that are available – depending on available funds – that Kevin predicted would come.  His predictions, for better and for worse, have bloomed, and many – too dang many – are spot-on – within timelines Kevin established would occur post-death – yes, “dollah.”

I promised Kevin, my youngest brother, that I would document, would update, would continue to share his truths, and I am.  The work is backed-up and expands.

Goals continue to be established and met. We continue -as we bring facts and truth from the past and focus on our documenting.  Why?  See below.

“Why?  I gave him my Word.”

Kevin’s Sister

www.captainkevindonnelly.com

HV with HCV = Helping Veterans and Families with Hep C

One Salute At A Time

2005 – Fifth Year Tribute: Who, What, When, Where, How, Why – Kevin Drue Donnelly

Posted originally 8/5/05       http://www.oocities.org/hepvet/Kevin5thYrTrib.html

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

 

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

November 14, 1958 – August 5, 2000 

Fifth Year Tribute, 8/5/05

By: Monette Benoit, Kevin=s Sister

Copyright 2005

“Who, What, When, Where, How, Why”

Part One

This picture was taken May 21, 1974 by our dad. When Kevin was in junior high, he loved to pole vault. He was a pole vaulter, a high jumper.

 

My youngest brother, Kevin, competed in high school and practiced in our ‘side-yard’ without any matt or mattress to break his fall, preparing for competitions. Kevin would lift his pole, steady himself. He would focus, begin to run. He would hunker low, preparing to launch.

 

This picture was taken April 5, 1974 by our dad.

 

Then Kevin Drue Donnelly would plant that pole into the spot he needed to carry him into the air to soar, above the raised bar.

As Kevin flew over the elevated ‘bar’ Kevin continued to ‘raise higher with each success’, he advanced his skills, and often he faced the sky. I remember, moments frozen in my mind, how he would smile as he ‘flew’ – moments before he landed, sometimes crashing.

I remember the brother that would then jump high into air, arms elevated to the sky. My brother would grab that ‘pole’, tucking it under his right armpit. Then Kevin, nicknamed ‘Rambo’ by a childhood friend, would sprint back to the spot where he began – focusing to run, to jump, to ‘soar’ again. When people speak or write about my brother, this is part of the loving memory in my heart: A younger brother eager to improve his skills, eager to soar past his limits, smiling, jumping into the air.

 

 

My parents took this picture of all of their children on mom’s piano bench in our small living room. My mom tucked Kevin, in bright red socks, under my right arm, to support Kevin. I remember posing for that picture, and Kevin was so small, he would fall over, unsupported. That’s the kind of relationship siblings have. One supports the other, when they can. When they can. And when they can not, they watch from the sidelines waiting for each other. I remember a brother eager to push himself. This tenacity would greatly serve Kevin – and many others as Kevin’s life charted new courses.

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.” Louis Pasteur

Some of us stood on the sidelines cheering Kevin. I remember holding buckets of ice for his bruises. My mom insisted. I don’t remember Kevin ever taking the ice, bruised or bleeding. Those of us on the sidelines cheering and watching, later experienced wonderful moments when we stood side-by-side with Kevin. Some of us have awful moments, and some of us, those included here, have moments that altered our world, perhaps the history of a virus and how if affects a veterans, each person, each family, each country.

Oh, this is so much bigger than Kevin. Yet his plight, his path must be remembered. You don’t’ want ‘on’ this path. Knowledge and understanding, conversations and sharing will easily prevent this path. Veterans and loving families, friends can prevent this record of Kevin’s history.

If you think you do not know anyone with Hepatitis C, you are wrong. You do. Perhaps the people around you do not know they have Hep C. I did not know my youngest brother had Hep C from military jet injectors for vaccines.

His altered medical records reflect the truth.

After Kevin’s death, right before Christmas, I did not know my father would be diagnosed with Hepatitis C, from blood transfusions.

Perhaps people around you do know they are diagnosed and are living with the stigma and don’t share. You will be touched by this virus. You will know. It is ‘how’ we deal with the course of events within our lifetime and with the veterans and mutations of this virus that will affect future moments, future events.

The number of people who want to see this ‘true’ story produced into a movie continues to grow. It is a ground-swelling within the trench. I remain startled, stunned and sometimes experience ‘quick’ twinges in my stomach when people contact me. The ground-swelling of men, women, teens, who want this story told, continues to escalate. And, yes, I am being contacted by producers, people are talking. They want to talk. They need to talk.

We have a virus that has numbers from the CDC, Center Disease Control that are over 10 years old. Most highly placed Hepatologists put that number over five million people infected – five million. I understand that currently AIDS has numbers under one million. The five-million number does not include military, veterans, those with no health insurance or prison stats, which the CDC will not include. Their internal numbers are staggering.

“Will you be there for me? Thinking of me every day. Are you my destiny once I dare to say, will you be there for me? Just think of you and me, we could never tow the line. It’s such a mystery.” Sarah Brighton, ‘There for Me’

Where is the accurate, detailed information? Where are the facts? How did a virus appear in 1942? Is it man-made? Facts and stats, numbers and truth do not lie, they do not mislead. They inform. They educate. They teach. Facts speak for themselves, silence is unacceptable. We can do better. We must do better. We owe it to our children’s children and to our veterans to prevent others from living our history.

“I get on my knees and pray that we don’t get fooled again. Meet the new boss, the name of the old boss.” Bruce Springsteen

When I read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s passage below, a chill ran down up my spine. I was reading late at night; the comparison to Kevin as he ‘was’ and where his memory is now, jumped out, touching me. In that moment, I committed to beginning the fifth tribute to Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, 11-14-58 to 8-5-00 with this pole vault comparison. Perhaps others will have a ‘breakthrough moment’ as they read this ‘fifth’ update. I share to plant seeds. The seed may not produce ‘light’ tonight, but you want to accept this invitation to listen.

You want to accept this invitation to helps others. The gardens vary, some paths are winding; some are dead-straight. I share to plant seeds. Perhaps you want to go back and read earlier accounts where I opened the Kimono within my heart. Vegas odds could never have predicted I would be here now with facts prior to Kevin’s death, inaccuracies after Kevin’s death, honor and dishonor – then the ‘double’ Muhammad Ali blow to the stomach, the diagnosis of my dad.

As millions before me, I was leading a ‘simple’ life before this virus reached out and tapped my shoulder. Though it knocked my brother straight between the eyes, 12/23/97, it tapped my shoulder. The tapping changed and mutated as his illness and personal life began to immediately go sour. Facts, folks. Strange things began to happen in our world. Odd events began to be recorded in our world. My simple world changed with ‘clicks’, often one by one. Then it darkened to a black chapter the evening of 8-5-00. Kevin asked me to listen “if I could,” to document “if I could.”

I did listen, I did document — never knowing I’d stand before so many, head down, shoulders back, bottom lip quivering, working to bring honor back to my brother’s world, working to bring truth back to my parents’ world. I share as Kevin is not here ‘now’ to lead by example. If he were, he’d be seated at his computer, cigarette lit, resting in his ashtray, to the right of his computer keyboard. A TV with current news would be running in the background; Kevin probably would have music playing, too. Music often propelled him to move forward all his life. Kevin whistled complete tunes to the radio. Sometimes he’d jump up with a quick dance, twirling, wiggling. Then he’d take a deep breath, sit back at his computer, head down, he’d go back to work.

If Kevin were here, Kevin would be working, helping others, initiating new ideas, challenging people to work together, focusing on pundits, politicians, critics who criticize behind ‘walled walls’. Kevin would be challenging and working with the medical community. Kevin believed each, above, was responsible for where we are today.

Kevin’s book “The Panama Story” was written one chapter a night.  Accept my invitation. It is based on history, documented facts from the Freedom Information Act. Kevin tied it in with a fast-paced novel to assist people to learn where we are, based on where we were, to learn what we must do, to prevent where we are going. It’s not a riddle; it’s not complicated. Hepatitis C is a diagnosis that can shake your world if you or someone you know has Hep C. It can also shake your world if someone near you has the disease and has not been diagnosed. I wonder which is more fearful? I know, from experience, both are not to be taken lightly. I begin my fifth tribute to Kevin, my head bowed, a hat in my hand, ready to be tossed over the wall.

Irish history records fact that each man used to have one hat, a source of ‘huge’ pride. After the British built high walls in Ireland to prevent communication within the communities, Irish men would go to the wall, hat in hand. And if they had a point to make, they would take their hat, throw it over the high wall. If your hat is tossed over the wall you have to go get it. You have to climb that wall. In the only eulogy that Kevin, a veteran, had two years and nine months after his death, I began his eulogy with the Irish hat being tossed overhand by Kevin. Come listen for a moment. I want to share with you wonderful facts and the truth about Kevin Drue Donnelly five years after his death. The message continues. The message is expressed with compassion. Others accepted Kevin’s invitation and others now lead. The veterans march on, the road is paved. Kevin and others, before him, are honored with the work we give of ourselves now.

“As a high school student I was a high jumper on a track team. … I used to set the bar on the stands, take a position thirty to fifty feet back, sprint fast toward the bar, and get down as low as possible to generate the added energy to propel my entire body over the bar. By getting down low I could ascend higher. Grief, when it is only an inner experience of sadness and sorrow, will keep you down in the … the plunge itself. It will immobilize you … But when you know that this despair has within it some sweet blessing, you disrupt the grief/sorrow partnership, and the fall helps you regain your footing and soar above the devastating potholes of life on earth. Allow what is there to be there, at the same time that you allow the possibility of different behavior. When you know that all falls are blessings and all losses are in divine order, you will gradually sweeten the sorrow and you will gain the energy to soar to a higher altitude in all areas of your life.” Dr Wayne W. Dyer “Wisdom of the Ages”

Emails, phone calls, the kindness of strangers assisted me to stay on the track, to learn how to hunker in when new facts or inaccuracies are being created. learned how to run, leaning into the wind, viewing something just out of reach, ‘above’ my fingertips. When I look back now, I see an elevated pole, I see the mat below, where perhaps my landing has not, perhaps, been so smooth. I ‘had’ to accept Kevin’s invitation. I’ve document why; here I document who, what, when, where, how and why. I know the moments when I stood up, shook myself, learned to listen to my gut, continued to pray, and then consciously walked back to the exact dang spot, viewing the elevated pole, a distance away.

Emails sent to me, such as the ones shared between the sharing of ‘where people are now, five years later’ are what helped to strength me. humbly share with you, shoulders back. Learn from my path. Learn from Hepatitis C diagnosed within a family. Learn from the side effects of a disease that is not clearly understood, the side effects of treatments that are varied and often – downright cruel. Learn from the depression that is part of this disease. Learn so you never get close to my path or Kevin’s.

This email was received from a dear friend August 15, 2000:

“Oh, Monette, I’m so sorry. Really. I’m sad and can hardly be with the feelings that swept over me when I received your email. I’m sorry for your loss and the grief that you are dealing with now. I know your brother made a difference on the planet out of what you share with me about him.His willingness to keep having a conversation that many people wanted to ignore has made a difference with many people and also allowed Kevin to experience for himself a purpose being fulfilled. Brothers are special, and I know you’ll miss him. Yes, we’ll all pray and celebrate his life.”

I was chatting with Dr. Cecil, July 16, 2005, the person Kevin was seeking to assist August 4th, 2000. Kevin was working to help Dr. Cecil and a dedicated, important lady to open an online Q&A support group for prisoners, the night he was escorted by two sheriff’s from his residence, Dr. Cecil gave me permission to use his quote:

“Kevin was an activist, and he tried to help others; this was an important part of his last phase of his life. e used the Internet to reach people, and he was pretty sick with the disease toward the end. Kevin has helped many. Please include my comment below in your memorial for your late brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly. Good luck to your dad. Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly died five years ago (with) Hepatitis C cirrhosis. He contracted this infection from his military service, and I am honored to have known him the last few years of his life. We used to email each other weekly about HCV issues.

Captain Donnelly was very intelligent and used his computer skills to research medical information about HCV on the internet. He and LeighAnn Vogel developed a website Veterans Helping Veterans that was a repository of data concerning Hepatitis C. He tried to help veterans and other patients with Hepatitis C get the information and the care that they sought.

Treatment has advanced at the Louisville VAMC. We started in May 1998 with 734 identified HCV patients, none who have been treated. We have treated 317, and so far 99 have been cured of the HCV. The survival in cured patients is greatly superior to patients who failed treatment. Other VA medical centers are treating more patients, and I expect the trend will continue. About seven percent of all veterans are infected with HCV, and this group must be targeted and treated to prevent excess mortality. Captain Donnelly’s selfless advocacy and intellectual integrity are greatly missed by the HCV community. I am thankful that I was able to know him through the internet and to gain from his knowledge and compassion.” Ben Cecil, MD bdceci01@iglou.com

Kevin’s sister received this email from our dad after Kevin’s death, prior to his own diagnosis with Hep C:

“Last Sunday, on a beautiful afternoon, your mother and I took a ride into the desert. While we were admiring the scenery I said it was too bad that we had to go to the Northeast rather than the Northwest this summer. She quickly agreed that she did not want to go to Kevin’s grave. Just mentioning Kevin’s name causes her very grievous pain. We have tried to go to WA and OR for almost ten years. We’re both excited about going to places where we have never been or have visited a long time ago. I went to AAA and have already begun to plan our trip. Last summer was a real wake-up call. Two of my cousins died, my younger cousin Terry so sick, our good friend had a cancer relapse and me with the prostate problem. Have you mailed the diaries that Kevin had? Again, sorry I missed you today. Love, DAD XXX’s”

 

Kevin dated this picture in his handwriting 7/14/85.

 

Gathering this Fifth Tribute, I phoned Kevin’s closest friend since his diagnosis. Out of respect, I asked if he wanted to remain ‘anonymous’. Kevin’s friend paused and asked, “Are those people still in jail”? I responded, “The ones for the news source?” “Yes, those are the ones.” I replied, “Well, ah, yes.”

Then I softly teased, I’m beginning to feel like a combination of Woodward and Bernstein – ‘Wood-stein’, for the people who request to share this, but not that; people who request to share that, but not this; people request to share anonymously; people share with me completely, then request none of it is shared. And yes, folks, I do speak to people who let it ‘all’ out. I have been very clear from the moment I received the call direct from Kevin after his diagnosis at my dad’s hospital bedside, asking me to “listen, if I could; to document, if I could.”

I have been very clear from the moment I received the phone call from his stepdaughter telling me Kevin was dead, “and we all knew he was crazy, and there was a spare bullet on the dresser, and there could have been a triple homicide.” I have been very clear with my own parents; my dad in August 2000 was just recovering from advanced prostate cancer surgery, mom at his side, brothers gathered with their children for my dad, the same day we received the phone call that would forever change our world about Kevin’s death. I have been very clear with people I’ve listened to, spoken with, met … and even with those who have tapped me on the shoulder in public telling me “you don’t know what you’re up against.”

Perhaps not, but I was very clear with each, including my parents when they could not understand this sharing about their son: “I’ve lost the loss of all losses; I will listen, I will document. Others must never repeat this path; others must know why and how choices, decisions were made. Pointy little fingers are not being pointed here, not by me, Kevin’s sister. Facts are facts. Facts speak for themselves. What is ‘pointy’ are the inaccuracies, the ‘lies’ that attempted to become fact by people within Kevin’s residence and a small handful of people. I have been respectful, often head down, standing very still, praying for the right words, the correct choice. I must acknowledge this path is not where I chose.

I must acknowledge that had the respectful actions been taken by Kevin’s widow, Tina [Justine] Velocci Lomonte Donnelly, to please:

1. Return the research and email address book, my brother’s last wish, to the Hep C community.

2. Return the few items my parents requested, none of monetary value.

If number one and two had been respected, I would have turned my back on this path. I am here because neither were gifted, granted and in the process of sticking around to fulfill Kevin’s last wishes, I was ‘around’ to witness the inaccuracies as they appeared as facts. I am here because the inaccuracies ‘had’ to be changed. One does not permit ‘lies’ to rest when a brother ‘lies’ in a casket unable to defend himself. I wasn’t raised like that, though I was raised to be respectful. Facts now reveal a handful have not given Kevin’s own parents respect. And that handful is the reason I’ve stuck around listening, documenting. So there we have it. The truth.

Will you accept my invitation to share with others? Hep C can be a terrible disease when there is misunderstanding, lack of education. Bad choices are made, and as documented here, the bad choices are not isolated. Thus, am I still here. And as people request the movie, I’m still listening. I’m still documenting. My parents ‘get it’. My husband ‘gets it’. All members of the military, veterans and strangers ‘get it’.

Facts reflect that Kevin’s work, research, email address book, the items his parents requested were not returned — even after people within the Hep community offered to pay for the research with their funds. Due to my family’s pain and the fact they could not attend Kevin’s funeral due to dad’s cancer surgery, I flew alone to the funeral. I arranged to have the military flag over his casket, when none was requested. I negotiated with the funeral parlor to get the American flag for a Captain in the Army, after 22 years of service, in exchange for ‘no obituary’ with his widow, Justine Velocci Lomonte Donnelly. I stood and listened as people stood to ask me “why are you parents really not here?” Some people told me exactly where his brains were on the wall just 48 hours after I was informed of his death. I stood tall, stomach ill, and listened, listened. The facts are documented. When I discovered that the rank on Kevin’s tombstone was for Second Lieutenant, and not Captain, I sat on the floor, just as Kevin did one day, and began a ‘new’ search.

 

 

I removed the emotions from the event when Louise Velocci, Kevin’s mother-in-law spoke, negatively about my deceased baby brother, then abruptly ended the phone call with: “And don’t you call here no more.”

I continued to gather facts, correct what I may and will continue to do so. I will share the conversations to help others. Will you? Five million plus people are infected. You do know someone.

The past five years have been traumatic and dramatic. I continue to seek ‘conversations’ listening to others, to prevent another family from ever knowing the symptoms for a disease that will change this world as we know it. It will. Thus far, since August 5th, 2000, I have shared what has happened in my world, in our world – reluctantly at first. I know few people that would ‘desire’ this path. This year, I prayed and listened. When the event occurred, listed below in a hotel restaurant, I decided the sharing this year would be from ‘within’. I would ask those who knew Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly during the final chapter of his life, to share the three answers. Each was asked:

1. Where are you now in your world with events concerning Hepatitis C?

2. What, if any, events do you think are related to Kevin’s work, research, Kevin’s choices?

3. Finally, what good and bad has happened to you, your family in the past five years?

I gathered information, compiled it. Throughout the update of where people are now five years later, I decided to include emails from my world that gave me the courage, the ‘guts’, the strength to follow my heart, to commit to this path. I don’t think I could have stood in this heat or the pain without the mentors, the conversations, the emails that gave me courage to move forward – even as inaccuracies continued to bubble from within Kevin’s residence and from the people who would not return Kevin’s research or few items Kevin’s parents requested.

This year, I had a second meeting with producers for a film on Kevin and his path, and also met with a new round of people committed to documenting this ‘with’ film. Kevin had shared with a few. He shared the black world he was living, and they, with strangers, continue to request a documentary, film to share the truth. Every single person, to date, that has crossed my path continues to tell me, to encourage me, to move forward, to never forget, to ‘not let go’.

And there have been personal sacrifices, as well. After being in the Hep C trenches since 12-28-97, my brother dying with Hep C, 8-5-00, my speaking at an International Hep C rally 5-23-03 delivering the only eulogy Kevin has received since his death – my dad was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, 12-16-03. Just as I typed the sentence above, my phone rang. My dad, in a grand voice, asked: “What are you doing”? I paused, then shared this project – silence – They still work to move forward without their youngest child.

 

Mom’s handwriting on the back of this picture is: Dad and I with our Cowboy hats on, San Antonio, Texas, 1/86.

 

My mother now has a husband of 52 years with the same diagnosis that her youngest child received. My mother still is unable to say Kevin’s name. For five years, she continues to whisper his name, often rubbing her hands together as her eyes instantly tear. My dad witnesses, purses his lips, looks down or away … and sometimes, silently, softly, slowly, shrugs his shoulders. We ‘all’ wait for mom to ‘come back.’ Words do not comfort her. Hugs do not comfort her. We’re waiting for time to comfort Kevin’s mother. Perhaps kindness after Kevin’s death would have helped. Perhaps the truth would have helped Kevin’s mother. We do know the inaccuracies have hurt my mom and my dad and the memory of a soldier who helped thousands and thousands of people in this trench. 

Five years after Kevin’s death, we still hurt from the lies, now corrected, though the scars remain. As mom and dad chatted about their day, mom ‘just’ shared, “Honey, I had a dream last night with Kevin.” “Excuse me?” I replied. “I had a dream last night about Kevin. It’s been a while, honey. He and his brother were doing something together and only one son came home. I kept looking for Kevin. I kept calling for Kevin. I kept wanting to know when he’s coming home since his brother came home, alone, without him. You know they were always together. Then, honey, I saw Kevin, at the age he was when he left. He was looking good; he was an attractive man. I looked at him, and asked Kevin when he’s coming home, and I heard Kevin say, ‘I’m dead, mom.’ Honey, I stopped looking for Kevin in my dream last night and went back to sleep.”

 

I had written on the back of this picture: Kevin’s house the day mom and dad picked me up from the airport, 3/82.

 

Mom then added, “I’ve said all my prayers for him and will continue to do so … and after a while God takes over. God is taking care of Kevin now. And I love you, honey.” Yes, folks, this path continues to take my breath, causing my heart to skip just one moment. I listened to my mom, then said, voice-cheery, “Good for you, mom. I’m proud of you.” Mom doesn’t see me lower my head or hear the sudden intake of breath. I’m there for my mom, my dad, just as I’m here still for Kevin and this path, this dang, Hep C path. After I finished speaking to my mom and my dad, I reluctantly walked back to this chair, to this computer, hit the ‘start’ button with on CD player, put my shoulders back, chin forward. Now I’m back in the trench for Kevin, again. Will you accept my invitation to plant seeds?

Kevin had a full life ‘pre’ his Hepatitis C diagnosis. As his world shifted, this ‘buddy stayed in the trench with Kevin, the truest of true friends, looking after a brother, a neighbor, veteran. When I contacted him to ask where he and his family are five years later, this is what we chatted about, what Kevin’s Buddy shared. I phoned, explained my quest, my reasons for wanting to include someone who was so enclosed within Kevin’s private world. He listened, without one word. I winced, hesitated and shared he could have the opportunity to be included, but I wanted to also give him the opportunity to decline. The ‘opportunity’ was the reason I ‘had’ to phone. Initially, we spoke softly, we listened to each other; cautiously we laughed together. Later, we roared with laughter remembering the determined, stubborn-willed, army veteran, his wit, his humor, and when we ended our chat, we both ended whispering softly to each other: “I love you.”

“A many lay dying in the streets … Any other day he would have been preaching, Reaching all the people there, I Say God Rest His Soul But Lord knows I can’t change what I saw, I Say God Rest His Soul.” The Allman Brothers

Out of the pain, there is hope, there is strength. Here is the truest personal update five years to the date of Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly’s death with Hepatitis C. This veteran, neighbor, father, still ‘talks’ to Kevin every day. Each day, he drives to work early, sitting outside in his car, before going into his office. Each day, he now prays for Kevin to protect his son, overseas on the frontline, in Iraq. Almost every day, something occurs where he and his wife, look at each other and think of Kevin. Often, they say, “this one’s for you,” as they look to the sky. They have moved on, their children, youngsters who played with Kevin, have matured, memories with Kevin, remain. This veteran’s children was gifted our dad’s motor bike from Kevin. His family has gifts that Kevin gifted them from his Germany tours, Europe, Kevin’s world travels. They have the true gifts, gifted from Kevin himself; Kevin’s hands extended out, their hands receiving. I’ve seen the gifts in their home and smiled.

When the contents of Kevin’s office and residence were scattered by ‘next of kin’ without regard to requests from Kevin’s mother and father, one of my consolations was that this neighbor and family have gifts that Kevin hand-carried to their home. This veteran lowered the American flag, per my request, after Kevin’s funeral, when no one lowered the flag or turned a light on in front of Kevin’s residence, five days after his death. This family was very special to Kevin, and I thank God they had each other during the good years, and during the hard years after Kevin’s Hep C diagnosis. This veteran, neighbor, father, remembers when “Kevin was physically very active in all sports, the neighborhood, the kids in the area. Within a matter of a year, all his physical activity was gone. We just didn’t understand it. He had been so physically active, and then was hurting throughout his whole body. He had spots, swellings. I saw them; he showed some to me, but he was proud and often tried to make a joke out if. But all his physical activity was gone within one year.”

Now – five years later, since Kevin’s death – the Veteran who stepped in so often to help Kevin when he was alone in his home, when no one was eating with him, when no one was shopping or purchasing groceries for Kevin, this is the veteran who drove Kevin to the emergency room around 3:30 a.m., the last Christmas he was alive – this neighbor and family truly was there, each day, each night. Often they smoked a cigarette in the middle of the street, late into the night, debating, laughing, arguing, supporting each other with their daily ‘current events’, life’s challenges. Sometimes this veteran’s wife would order the two veterans to meet in the middle of the street, so they could get over being upset with one another after a heated debate – and ‘to move on with it, already’.

In the middle of the street often in the middle of the night, after Kevin’s diagnosis, Kevin shared his world, his triumphs, his anger, his frustrations with others not being helped – as Kevin became more ill, became more alone and became more involved helping veterans and families.

“This road we travel gets a little tough sometimes, Sometimes I know you feel like you can’t go on, Need somebody help you get back home. Need a friend to help you find your way home. You know the whole world loves you when you’re dancin’. Life ain’t all good, but it sure ain’t bad. Don’t be discouraged when the sun don’t shine, Gotta keep on pulling, you gotta keep on trying. Everybody’s got a mountain to climb.” Dickey Betts, The Allman Brothers

Kevin made a choice; this veteran, neighbor was there 100 %. He was there, per Kevin’s request, when the sheriff removed Kevin from his residence and office, at the court-ordered request of Justine Velochi Lomonte Donnelly. I documented this in earlier tributes. The truth is public knowledge now. This veteran was in the vet’s car returning videos at Blockbusters, per Kevin’s request, when Kevin phoned Tina, now a widow, that night a nurse working the ER shift at Massapequa Hospital, pleading for his Hep C research, information, to continue Kevin’ work, so Kevin could do a live Army radio show the next morning.

“I got a right to be lonely when you’re gone. Well it’s so easy to give advice, When you ain’t the one who got to pay the price.Served with a letter sent to whom it may concern A lesson learned hard nearly got me down, I got a right to be wrong.” Dickey Betts

This veteran, neighbor, buddy, was the last person to speak to Kevin. He and his wife watched Kevin walk away, turn the corner, head down, shoulders hunched forward. Kevin was smoking a cigarette — carrying a small suitcase, which sheriffs forced him to pack as he was evicted from the residence. Kevin began his last journey, a choice Kevin made, to go home, to the residence containing all his research, his notes, his world after all his requests were refused. This is the residence where Kevin painted walls, hung doors, planted bushes, manicured a Bonsai garden, manicured the outside yard during his healthy days, and where prior to his diagnosis, Kevin had made the decision to be ‘a-stay-at-home-dad’ for three stepdaughters. The residence where he lived and worked, contained the work Kevin predicted would never be returned to the Hep C community. The residence contained items of Kevin’s birth family (his mom’s and his dad’s family). Kevin predicted items would never be returned to his parents.

 

Kevin’s handwriting dates this picture 12/20/82

 

The residence where he lived and worked, contained cats Kevin predicted would go to the animal shelter to be put down the first morning they were open for business. This prediction, and many more, became true, tick-tock, one by one, as quickly as Kevin left this earth. Five years after 8-5-00, this veteran is “now watching people get care through the VA hospital, which wasn’t there five years ago. The Hep C is rampant in the prisons, you know, and the VA is not denying it any more. They are paying. Vets are getting Interferon with the VA; they are being monitored. Kevin was an activist, and his activism means that others are now being helped. They are.”

Well, by and by, way after many years have gone, … It’s up to you and me brother, To try and try again. So, hear us now, we ain’t wasting no more. Don’t forget the pouring rain.” The Allman Brothers

When we discussed Kevin not seeking treatment 1998 to 2000, Kevin ‘declining’ medical treatment, my dad now diagnosed with Hep C, we shared our worlds since the diagnosis and first entry of Hepatitis C into our paths. And this buddy ‘knew’ before I did. Kevin waited to tell his family until after Christmas, telling my dad when dad was in the hospital, critically ill, and Kevin and my dad began a “race to heaven.” Kevin won. And now my dad has Hep C. We shared how Hep C currently is diagnosed ‘with’ larger numbers, his friends who are veterans, my family and people I know, many have the diagnosis, but not all have the facts and the truth.That was Kevin’s mission. He had a mission when he was here after he was diagnosed. We didn’t like it, but Kevin had a mission” the veteran shared, regarding Kevin’s work and involvement with Hep C.

 

 

Kevin had written on the back of this picture: “In my room during an alert! March ‘78”

 

This veteran wanted Kevin to get help. Kevin always said, “I can’t do it until every enlisted man is helped. I have a family. My family is grown. I have to help others now. It’s too late for me, but others will get the help. I won’t and can’t until every enlisted man is helped.” And how they argued over Kevin’s decision not to seek treatment — Kevin believing the doctor’s diagnosis 12/23/97 based lab results that he “only had two years to live and was not a candidate for treatment – oh, and have a Merry Christmas.”

“I can’t stand to see you leaving. Guess I’ve got to let you go. But there’s just one thing you should know, It ain’t over yet, but I can see it clearly now. Gonna change my way of livin’. Cause I know time is on my side. My mind is set. Do what you gotta do – It ain’t over yet.” The Allman Brothers, D. Drider and Johnny Neal

Here ‘were’ two veterans from different branches within the military family. The ‘verbal jabs’, jokes, dark humor, oh, how they argued and then laughed, roared, in the middle of the street over what they had previously argued about. I would just shake my head when I’d hear Kevin or his buddy sharing their latest debate, contested conversation …True brothers, friends, true buddies, true soldiers.

Last week, this neighbor said, “Kevin chose ‘the mission he had because he ‘was military,’ attention to all the details; you can’t quit until all the details are finished. That’s why Kevin took on the mission. It was his military training. The ‘military’ in him was why he took ‘on’ the mission.” Kevin didn’t quit his ‘mission’, until he was homeless, terminally ill, clouded by the ravages of Hepatitis C, depression, aching kidneys, liver, swollen hands and feet – oh, the multiple side effects – Kevin was sicker than any of us knew. Just as many others are now sick. Could this have been prevented? Yes. Will you accept my invitation?

This veteran shared, “Kevin chose a mission, it was his choice, and you have to know that. You have to try to understand that.” This veteran, again, shared with Kevin’s sister how events had been created and chosen. I was the sister who had phoned the neighbor/veteran and his wife after Kevin’s diagnosis. I phoned, introduced myself, begged him not to hang up on me and to please, please let me know how my baby brother was. This veteran, listened then without one word – then softly, he thanked me for calling, said he had been waiting for my call. I remember crying to this man who was seeing and helping my brother every day. He listened and soothed me with his calming advice, calming voice. Then he ranted about other topics.

We got into the trench quickly that night. When I first spoke to this veteran’s wife, I asked if she would take Thanksgiving dinner over to Kevin, knowing Kevin would be alone the next day. I added, “And could you please put the cranberry sauce on the side. He doesn’t like cranberry sauce ‘on’ his food.” She was silent before adding: “I know. I know. I was planning on taking a plate over; I know he doesn’t like cranberry sauce.” I apologized; we both laughed and a new friendship was created. Kevin never knew I phoned and was receiving calls on where Kevin was ‘in’ his world, as he shared with me.

Kevin was more alone than he was sharing with others and me. This was a very dark chapter in Kevin’s world, but it’s all documented. It is. When I initially phoned the neighbor’s home, I had to open a window into Kevin’s world, and this family, reached out to my open hands, embraced me. Right after Kevin’s diagnosis, “In the beginning,” the neighbor/veteran said “I did think Kevin was a little paranoid when Kevin said his lines were being tapped and cars were driving by his home. Right. We didn’t understand Hep C and didn’t know if he was being paranoid.” “But one day,” he said, “a car did come down the dead-end. The car stopped in front of Kevin’s home. There was a large white seal on the doors of the dark car with dark tinted windows and the license on the car was ‘federal’ license plates. I saw the car with the seal on the door, the license. I saw it. That changed everything. I didn’t think Kevin was being paranoid after that.”

This veteran shared:

“The positive now, five years later is that people aren’t getting the run-around from the VA. Now it’s an epidemic. The only thing you have to prove to get benefits now — you only have to prove you had some form of blood contact. That wasn’t true before Kevin’s activism and work.” A year ago, in a doctor’s office, this veteran picked up a brochure discussing Hep C. He saw ‘depression, suicide …’ It was in the VA Hospital in the waiting room! Now, I see it. Now I understand more. Now I know to help others. I helped a veteran go through the treatments a year ago. I helped because of Kevin. I was there for the veteran and his family. I drove over there after work when I was dead tired, when I knew I had to be there for the veteran throughout his treatments. Now I know because of Kevin. But back then there was no information, no knowledge.”

This veteran, neighbor, attended Kevin’s small funeral, wake at Dalton Funeral Home in New Hyde Park, NY, and the next day sat on my left, during the Catholic mass, Kevin’s casket to our left in the aisle. He and his wife then drove to the cemetery for the burial. This veteran said that when a song on the radio came on playing “Grateful Dead” he raised his hand in the air and said, “This one’s for you, buddy” and cranked the radio. This veteran, neighbor, stood to my right, behind me, saluting at full attention, wearing military jacket and hat, as taps played from a tape recorder tucked into the bushes within Calverton Cemetery minutes before the casket was removed. This soldier is “still trying to deal with Kevin’s predictions, as they come true about Hep C, treatment, the VA, Kevin’s residence,” with whom he spent the last eight years of his life. “One by one, they are coming true. Oh, how right he was. Sometimes I nod my head and say, “yeah, you were right, again. And sometimes I laugh and think of your brother. He knew. Man, oh man, he knew!” My conversation with this veteran ended with him saying: “I will help others now. I will continue to pray to your brother to watch over my son on the frontline. I will continue to help other veterans. — And I miss the hell out of your freaking brother. I really do, kiddo.”

I received an email from a mentor August 2000:

“Monette, Kevin looks so good in his Army uniform. You should always be very proud of him and what he tried to accomplish. I don’t pretend to understand why things sometimes happen as they do. Life is so fragile and all too often, those society loses, are the ones we can least afford to lose. Kevin was certainly one of those. Time heals the wounds, but the scars remain. I can only quote the words that we often associate with a very terrible time in the history of human kind, but are so appropriate in moments such as this, ‘Never Forget.’ Never forget Kevin. Do good deeds in his honor and he shall live forever.”

I received an email from a dear friend, Nam veteran, who would step forward with open arms to embrace my broken heart:

“My dearest, There are no words I could speak that would express my feelings. I am choked by the words I can write. I have lost too many to worthless causes. The grief I feel is without bounds, both for you and your Brother. He served in uniform, so we were Brothers, also. I stand ready to help in any way I can. Please let me know where He is, unit served, dates & time served, it will help me help you.”

I received this email from a friend regarding the first year tribute for Kevin:

“Wow. I just finished reading your story. I was captivated from start to finish–although I suspect the finish was not the end. Thank you for sharing it; it was a lot, and I realize it must represent only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. On a related note, just yesterday I attended a memorial service for a friend and colleague who took his life at 29 after battling his own demons — success, drugs, to name but two. Your brother’s story is different from my friend’s, but the coincidence of the two seems to be trying to say something. In my friend’s case, a fast and impressive rise to success was followed by an equally precipitous decline into self-destruction. All but one of his family — his sister, coincidentally — forsook him, and his was a needless and very lonely end. In any event, these two stories certainly have left an impression on me.”

“I don’t know if the government created AIDS. I tend to think yes, but controlling it escaped them as it mutated. You can’t have conspiracy to limit the population with a disease without the cure.” John Titor

I received this email from LeighAnn Vogel, dear friend, veteran, who worked with Kevin, who also built the website with Kevin Veterans Helping Veterans. She privately assisted my family and me, prior to Kevin’s death and after. LeighAnn Vogel is also the friend, veteran, who helped to intercede when medical ‘professionals’ were advising my dad to take Interferon, before his liver biopsy results were even in. Dad listened to LeighAnn, and I thank her with open heart for all she has shared.

Kevin: Five years later

“Well here it is, five years after Kevin physically left this earth. A lot of changes have come about in the world of Hepatitis C. New treatments, new revelations on how to treat, numbers of those infected going up and up, and research information are a few that I can think of. Lots of personal changes in the Hep C community, as well, have occurred. I’ve been sitting here watching it all. Taking it in. Wondering what Kevin would do or say about certain things. I know he would laugh at some of the people who say they knew him or worked with him because in actuality Kevin basically worked alone. People would email him, and he would do whatever he could to help them. Many of those still say they knew him well. It makes me laugh.

Others stole his research, posted it online as their own, and said they knew him well. But then, I kind of know what his response would be to some things. It seems he is here, just behind me, slapping me on the head telling me: “I told you that long before they decided to finally admit it” about research news that seemed to be old news. It was old news because Kevin had found it a year or two before the rest of the world. I guess in a sense that was Kevin — ahead of our time in the research department. So many of the things he touted back in 1998 and 1999 are now accepted because some other party has finally admitted it. I can’t help but think that if he could have hung in there with us just a bit longer, he would have seen his research being accepted and been so proud.

I truly believe Kevin was behind my going to Washington, DC and training to become a Veterans Service Rep. He was the most ‘Pro Veteran’ person I have ever met in my life. He would have done anything for a Vet or active service member. When I first met Kevin, online, I was only learning about Hepatitis C and Veterans with Hepatitis C. As I watched him write the “Panama Story,” (Kevin wrote one chapter per night, publishing one chapter each night) I was stunned to find out that I was stationed only about 20 minutes from him when we were both in the Army in the mid 70’s.

If it had not been for Kevin, I believe I would not have known my source of transmission was the U.S. Army and those jet injectors. I’m sure I would have found out sooner or later, but thanks to Kevin it was sooner. I can just imagine what he would say if he knew that now, finally, the VA is beginning to approve claims for service connection due to those very same jet injectors. Kevin pushed me to become an advocate. I had only started to make up my own webpage about my experiences with Hep C. Once Kevin and I got together, we created ‘Veterans Helping Veterans.’ Kevin wrote the information; I put it up on webpages for all to see. We started a Yahoo message board for Veterans, which is still up and running six years later.

There are still times when I get angry at him for leaving when and how he did. I still need him to help push me along. He would have seen his hard work come to fruition in so many different ways. Of course, there are still those who use him and his work to fit their agenda, but I don’t get so angry at them anymore. His slaps to the back of my head must be working! Or maybe it’s just that I know better now and feel simply pity for those who feel they need to steal what he gave so freely – his hard work. All he ever asked in return was credit for what he had learned. Simple respect. If nothing else, Kevin deserves a huge amount of simple respect from the Hep C community. I don’t think it would be at the point it is now, if not for some of his research.

We have lost so many comrades in the Hep C community since Kevin left us. He always took a loss very hard. He felt he should have worked harder or faster to help a vet, and if we lost the vet he took it personally. Les (Lester Tucker) was the toughest. Losing Les broke my heart, and I think that it put Kevin into a funk he couldn’t get out of. He was only one man, but in his mind Kevin was going to help EVERYONE and when that wasn’t possible, or fate took its own turn, he was crushed.

I know he’s up ‘there’ with those we have lost, probably telling them all to slap me in the head now and then. It’s a good wake-up call for me. I get into a funk, or float away from Hep C issues and suddenly that ‘smack’ to the back of my head will bring me around. After five years, I guess that wake-up call of his isn’t going to go away. The only thing I wonder about now is – when I get up ‘there’ and see him again, I’m not sure if I’ll hug him first or just kick him in the shins for hittin’ me in the head all the time!” I also know he would be telling us to put the sadness of his death behind us and move on. I have learned that life is very precious and very short.

I received this email from a mentor:

“Clearly from what you have told me, your brother learned (life lessons) from his death bed, even though he was well along the way to causing major reformation. How fortunate you are to realize the lesson so young in life, long before you touch your death bed.Yes, you don’t have his ‘things’ but you have the ability, and the understanding to ‘change myself first’ as you have accomplished that task.Remember your brother and thank him for that gift of helping you achieve that – far more important than anything you can put on a list and request to be returned to you from his in-laws. You have the most precious thing he could have left, and they have ‘things’.”

I received this email from my younger brother, discussing Kevin’s one year anniversary, 8/5/01:

“I’m planning a special mass for Kevin in our church Sunday.  Our opening song (I’m in the choir) is ‘Amazing Grace,’ and the next song is ‘On Eagle Wings’. The closing song to the church service is ‘Joy, Joy to Heaven’.  I think he would like these songs and our parents will be in the audience. We have a very nice small choir that can really move you.  We sang at two concerts already, and we are thinking about going to Ireland next year to sing a little.  This is going to be a special day for all.”

I received this email from my dad’s cousin after he read my ‘calm’ email:

“I sense a Donnelly temper below the serene exterior.”

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

I received this email from my dad four months after Kevin’s diagnosis:

“Kevin only said that he is sending all these messages, and he told me how many there are, to alert people to the danger so hepatitis. And he only said that he spent the day in bed. And he thanked your mother for an Easter card. I don’t know how to forward his e-mail. Anytime I try anything new I lose it. Kevin will do what he has to do. His time is well spent helping others. This is probably more important than any other activities that he has ever done.  Love, DAD XXX”

I received this email August 7, 2000, the day I flew to attend his funeral, from a friend I work with:

‘”Words that can really comfort you, Monette, are hard for me to find. Your brother, Kevin, will surely be in my prayers tonight, as he has been for awhile. It seems almost fitting, in some odd way, that you’re the one that will be there when he’s laid to rest. I just know he left this earth knowing you’d be there. Be safe on your trip, Monette, and know that you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers also.”

I received this email August 6, 2000 from a friend who worked with me and corresponded with Kevin:

“What a very sad, but somehow always anticipated, message to find waiting. You know my prayers are always with you, and Kevin, and, of course, especially now. I couldn’t answer until I strolled through a few hundred messages from him (from) January 1999. Kevin and I had a talk about God and heaven and what he believed was going to happen to him when he died.  It’ll warm your heart, I promise. So now once again you get to be the strong one. Face it, darlin’, you’ll never not have to be the strong one.  It’s just your destiny; in your work, in your life. They say He never gives us more than we can bear.  Are “they” right?  I hope so. Smile knowing you made your brother very happy and proud. Kevin (and I) started talking about what happens after we leave this earth, God, heaven, etc., and it was so comforting to know he did believe in all the stuff that gets me through each and every day.  I admired the hell out of that coming from someone who had every right to be very angry at God. I’m so sad to hear he died alone.  I hope at least he died peacefully. Don’t worry about whether the rest of the mortals at Kevin’s funeral will physically embrace you, M. Kevin will, you’ll feel it, and that’s all that matters.”

 

This is me, Kevin’s Sister, looking up ‘to’ her baby brother, Kevin. The back of the pictures reads: December 28, ’76, 4:00 a.m.!

 

Email received from Kevin’s friend and member within Hep C community, Carrie Sue Suldovsky, 2005:

“The HCV is still part of me, with the knowledge I got from (Kevin) I stand firm on the choice to not treat.  Not until there is a cure. Since I never sought treatment it was not hard to say ‘no’.  I had a new insurance plan ‘before Kevin crossed himself over’, when that went into effect, I sought out a PCP doctor who would hear me. As time went by she understood that I knew my condition, and that I read all about it much of the time if something new is ‘out there’ I have knowledge of it.

In the course of life with the HCV and being a pre-menopausal women I had to have my gallbladder out.  Since they (doctors) were going to be in there anyway, they did a biopsy.  It showed my liver was at the half way mark.  When the report came back, one doctor after another tried to ‘talk me into’ treatment.  When the topic came up in my PCP doctor’s office, I said, well, I’m not into doing it.  (Keep in mind one of the things I’ve been keeping tabs on was the drug companies who give ‘perks’ for the doctors who put people on treatment.)  The doctor started with a sales pitch, and I said, well, I don’t think it is a good idea.  The PCP doctor said, but I have one person who just cleared after only five weeks!  I said ‘Good what genotype were they a B?”’  Then the doctor went on to ask, ‘Oh, what is your genotype?’  I said don’t know there is no reason to have that test I never wanted to treat.  When the lab work came back showing I have a very RARE to the U.S. type (4) it just reinforced what Kevin and I both agreed on long ago this is a Man-made condition.  (4 is only found in Egypt and a small pocket in Central Africa!)

Now no one can tell me that the WHO (World Health Organization) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) didn’t have anything to do with the people who got this from infected gamma globulins.  I know it was not something anyone did on purpose; it still happened, and all those who went to Viet Nam are walking proof of that.When my husband went to the V.A. for his first checkup that was one of the things they ran a test on him for.  He was a lucky one since he went into the Army in 1962, he missed out on the HCV infected shots. In just the past few months I’ve had a meeting with a local doctor who agreed to take me on.

He runs a low-income clinic and since I am very, very low income I don’t have to pay a full co-pay of $20.00 to be seen in his clinic.  He agreed that a gamma globulin given in the mid 1960s very well could have been the way I was infected, but he didn’t have to agree; I know that is how I got this little bugger!

Every time there is another ‘break’ in HCV I think of Kevin,  and he may not be here in a body ‘earth suit as another person who knew him would say’.  He is still alive in my heart, and I know that in time the battle of HCV will be won. The big thing is that when it is won so will cancers of most types. Kevin was such a wonderful caring person. Now looking back, I think of the things that happened that got to him.

Lester Tucker had been a Vet who needed a transplant; Kevin fought tooth and nail to make the Vets pay for that and help him out.  But sadly, he never woke up from the surgery.  That stuck Kevin too hard; he had fought so hard to force them to give him a liver, and yet he could not live to know how it would work. Monette, HCV was something your Brother faced.

Please remember this one thing.  ‘Life IS A GIFT’. Yes, it is, and the fact that your brother’s life touched mine is just one example of what a wonderful time we live in. Please, if your Mom and Dad ever vacation in Idaho again tell them I would love to meet them. ‘They had stayed in the town my Mom and Dad lived in Kamiah.’ It was one of the threads Kevin and I had that kept us talking about real life. I’m just so sad he never did open up and tell me the problems he faced with his home life.  I know it is to late now, but I also know he would never air his dirty laundry to someone he didn’t know that well.

Susan (Lester Tucker’s wife) has remarried and is doing o.k. I do not have an e-mail address for her, I’m so sorry but I just do not.   When Lester passed away before waking up (after his second transplant), she had to leave the world of HCV message board’s behind.  She did check in at one point about a year ago to let folks know she was still o.k.

How I got to know Kevin was he got his computer the same month we got ‘online’; I had been using a computer for some time as I work for a school.  But we did not have an Internet connection for a long time.  Then when Kevin and I found each other it was from off a message board that at that time was called SHN.  He, Deborah, Sally and a few others got the heck out of there (SHN message board) as it was kind of a toxic place, due to the fact that three or four people thought they owned the board, and other things.  The same message board went on to be sold to the company called WebMD.  (But that was long after Kevin and I met, and left that board.)

I think that the big thing that tied Kevin and I, other than the HCV given to us both by a shot that should prevent Hepatitis, was that I’m married to a ‘Vet’; my husband went into the Army in Hamilton OH.  He slipped by going to Viet Nam by the skin of his teeth; he was short eight days of the time his unit was to be over there so he spent the last months of his time in TX.  (After he first did a trip to Korea) He was just one of the few lucky men, in many ways.  One, he never had to see Viet Nam, and two he missed out on the gamma globulin that was infected (or as Kevin found out mutated). I miss Kevin today as much as I missed him the first year.

I will tell you that when I first heard he was dead, I in my head (I’m not the only one on this) I thought that someone in our government had ‘knocked him off’ so when I learned a year later that he had taken his own life it removed some ‘fear’, but I still had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing.  I know it is painful for you as you being his sister he was a (real life) person.  I, and the whole HCV community, sure wish you could have found the ‘zip disks’; he had everything he was working on saved on ‘Zip disks’.

Feel free to stay in touch, I plan to be around in my (earth suit) for some time.  “I want to see grandkids and so far no-one has any kids on the way.” Carrie Sue Suldovsky

I received this email from a friend, veteran, who had requested information after hearing the rank on Kevin’s tombstone was incorrect, August 17, 2000:

“Thank you for the info on Kevin. I lost my Brother many years ago. It has taken that long to realize I’ll never get over it. The pain is not as sharp as it was. Instead of thinking about Him every minute, it’s down to a few times a day. I know this doesn’t sound encouraging, it’s just reality. Give yourself a lot of time and lead-way.

I was recently divorced when my Brother died, and I stayed alone for years, wrapped in thick shell of pain nobody could get through. Friends said I was like a wounded Tiger in His den, alone, dangerous. I’m glad you won’t have to go through that, It’s no way to live. Take care, Be safe.”

I received this email from a mentor August 17, 2000:

“Monette – I’m so sorry to learn of your brother’s death. Though I never knew him, I’m sure he was a special and beloved person. I hope you and your family will find peace in coping with your loss. I know what you are going through. In 1966, I lost my sister with whom I was very close, to when she was just 22. Despite the passage of 30+ years, the hole her death left in my life has never been filled, even though the grieving ended long ago. In time, your grief, too, will pass, but you will always cherish the memory of Kevin.”

I received this from Kevin’s best friend September 20, 2000:

Your email gave me more insight into the situation. I was only trying to be objective, perhaps I was too much so. You are right about the disrespect to your parents on this. I had not thought of that. I hope to get out to Calverton next month, just to check up. I will place flowers on behalf of your parents and then I will write to them. In the meantime, please let them know I have not forgotten about them. I love and respect them too much just to send out a ‘sympathy’ card. I need some time to let this settle with me, and then will write them from my heart. I hope you also understand that ( I know you do!).”

“Love changes everything, how you lay there, how you die. Yes, love, love changes everything. It brings you glory, it brings you shame … Nothing in the world will ever be the same.” Andrew Lloyd Weber

Email I sent to Kevin’s best friend, also a deacon, four hours after I was told Kevin was ‘gone’, August 5, 2000, requesting he attend funeral:

“I have tried to phone, but your number is not listed. I was informed a few hours ago that Kevin Drue Donnelly passed away last night, August 4, 2000, 41 years old. Kevin will be waked at Dalton Funeral Home, New Hyde Park, NY on Tuesday (hours now are 2:00 – 5:00 and 7:00-9:00).

His wife has made plans to have him buried in Calverton in the military section. This is out east on Long Island, near Riverhead. I have requested that a military funeral … as yet, such plans have not been made. My younger brother flew to San Antonio, TX, today with his son to visit my parents and elder brother.

Dad had aggressive cancer surgery late June. This was his first time to see my parents (since dad’s surgery, per dad’s request so he could recuperate). Due to the flight restrictions, my brother will not be able to attend Kevin’s funeral. Due to the family gathering in Texas, I will fly alone to witness and attend Kevin’s funeral.

Kevin was scheduled to do a radio show (in the west) today … he was very excited to speak about Hep. He was much sicker than any of us knew. I will try and contact the VA … about a military funeral. But since I’m not his wife, I will need to respect the wishes of others. Sadly, Kevin will not be buried in Arlington, his last wish. But I will fly, sit with him, and thank God for letting me have a (baby) brother like Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly. Can you attend his wake and/or funeral? I wish you could … as I’d love to have you say a few prayers. One of Kevin’s neighbors, this evening, even asked about his mountain-climbing friend … I said, yes, I had tried to contact you. Please let us hear from you.”

I received this email from a veteran, friend when I was working to process and understand the inaccuracies, the disrespect to Kevin’s memory and to his parents from people within Kevin’s residence August 16, 2000:

“The more I hear about Kevin, the more impressive he becomes. There is NOTHING better than an officer who thinks of his men first and himself last. I haven’t seen that many who do. I grieve with you for the great loss Kevin’s death means to all.”

Bruce Burkett, veteran, friend, 2005. Bruce and I met during the 2003 Hep C Rally in Washington DC, and Bruce returned my phone call when I reached out after dad’s diagnosis:

“Hi, Monette, I will be glad to help. It is ironic that you wrote today; I was looking at Kevin’s picture last night. I was going through some old files and found the copies of the article in ‘Newsweek’. I first met Kevin in 1998 when I was looking for information about HCV. Not only did I find information, I found a friend and mentor. He encouraged me to continue the fight and to help others in this battle. Since that time I have worked with several HCV groups and founded the Missouri Hepatitis C Alliance in 1999. We worked at providing support and education to anyone who was affected by HCV. Today we have seven support groups across central Missouri. In May 2005, I quit my job, and we started a program that offers free testing to anyone who has any risk for HCV. For those who are positive, we provide viral load and genotype testing and a referral to a physician. For the uninsured we will pay for their office visits and lab testing. We also have co-pay assistance for the under-insured population. Without Kevin’s insistence that I continue the fight, I don’t think I would be where I am today. I think about Kevin often and I miss him.”   Bruce Burkett

 

If I was truly brave, I would say ‘This is a sister seated between two people who have yet to be diagnosed with Hepatitis C.’ We were in a cave, seated together, one hot Texas day, seeking to escape the heat. After I included my picture here, ‘then’ I phoned my dad requesting permission to share. My dad, Kevin’s father and a veteran, paused without one word for a long moment. Then my dad laughed and immediately said, quote, “Yeah, sure, why not? I don’t think it of all the time. Sure, go ahead. If it will help others, go ahead and use it. I still don’t understand all of this.” I treasure this picture, Kevin, Monette and Dad.

 

I received this email via Internet:

“I prayed last night for you … You need a bigger dog to nip the little dog and get him off your heel. Then, the big dog can go after the rats in the junkyard. Good luck.”

“Judge success by what you had to give up to get it.” Dalai Lama

I also received this email from a friend of Kevin’s, Hep C support leader, 2005:

“I think of Kevin always, and he was a wonderful human being who was the only one who really understood Hepatitis C many years ago. Everything he tried to tell people about this disease all turned out to be true. I love and miss Kevin very much and think of him quite often to this very day. I need to sing you a song over the phone because I don’t know the title, but it was Kevin’s favorite song! He would always send me dancing animations with the song in the background. Whenever I hear it I think of him, and how wonderful it was when he was with us.

I cared a lot for Kevin, and he was a lifesaver to me. I really didn’t know that much about Hepatitis C, and I feel that he leveled with me and did the type of investigating that others ignored. It made sense what Kevin said about the disease and many of the doctors, and even advocates, were far behind Kevin’s knowledge. He was one smart guy who didn’t pull any punches. I then became an advocate with my own organization, and I will never forget Kevin’s help, support and wisdom when I was first diagnosed and needing help in understanding this disease.

It was good talking with you. Yes, you are like (Muhammad) Ali for sure, but you are strong like Kevin, and he is with you and guiding you every day. I will keep in touch!”(I had shared that I feel like Muhammad Ali with a double punch having a brother diagnosed with Hep C, and after his death, Hep C advocacy, assisting myself and others, and then after my dad’s diagnosis, I ‘hurt’.)

The song that Kevin sent and sang to this lady, and which she hummed and sang to me last week:

“One, two, three, four, five, everybody in the car so come on let’s ride….. So what can I do? I really beg you my Lord. A little bit of Monica in my life, A little bit of Erica by my side. A little bit of Rita’s all I need … Jump up and down and move it all around. Shake your head to the sound, put your hands on the ground. Take one step left and one step right. One to the front and one to the side. Clap your hands once and clap your hands twice And if it look like this then you’re doing it right. …” Lou Vega: Mambo Number Five

Kevin’s favorite group to his best friend was Marshall Tucker. His favorite group to a neighbor was Allman Brothers. His favorite group to others was Boz Scaggs. Music was the foundation that grounded Kevin. This sharing was special to others and to Kevin.

An email I wrote to a mentor, educator, religious counselor, requesting the correct rank on Kevin’s tombstone after learning his rank of ‘Captain’ was incorrect and the tombstone listed his rank as Second Lieutenant, 9/09/00:

“Do you know how I can obtain the military status of my brother, Kevin Drue Donnelly? He was a Captain in the USAR, after filling one tour in Germany. He was denied, in writing, his rank of ‘Major,’ received at his home, two days after his death on August 7, 00. I have recently learned that the ‘grieving widow’ (also a veteran) has given information to Calverton National Cemetery, Riverhead, NY, that his is a ‘2nd Lt.’ That is what will be on his tombstone until I can prove that he was a Captain. Do you know how I may obtain this information?”

Response to above email: “As far as retrieving things from your brother’s grieving family, I don’t know. I sense a bit of ‘distance’ between them. I don’t know the full story. Is there anger on their part? Are they upset with somebody or something? Are they possessive and don’t want to let go of his things? Don’t they realize how much you meant to him and he meant to you? Aren’t they willing to share with you? I know, I know, a lot of unanswered questions. I would hope that mutual understanding could be worked out among all, keeping in mind what your brother would want. Give me a call some day when you get a chance and let me ‘listen’ to you. My gift from God is to listen to people.”

Email I received from a mentor when reviewing a letter I had drafted to send to Kevin’s widow on behalf of my parents, September 26, 2000:

“Outstanding letter. I think the offer of the Waterford crystal glasses going to Kevin’s stepchildren is very considerate. If this woman doesn’t return these things to you, she would be a real first class _____. In fact, it would get me mad enough to want to kick her butt all the way into the Pacific Ocean. Maybe she’ll change her approach and decide that being a human being is worthwhile after all.”

Email I received from Internet:

“1. Call the nearest VA hospital, explain your situation and have the records verified (explain you are a relative, etc).

2. Call the nearest recruiting office and ask for a phone number, web address, etc., to go to find information.

I would also suggest on the Internet, going to the U.S. Department of the Army and then doing an online search until you get to the proper place. Let me know if this works or doesn’t work. I can’t believe that the widow would be so %*@*! Stupid. Blessings and prayers.”

Email received from Kevin’s childhood friend:

“I sent a card to your parents and wrote them a note. I visited Kevin’s site in early November 2000. It was still dirt and no stone marker, but it looked as if they noted his stone for a correction to Captain.”

Email from members within the Hep C community, 1/01:

“Well, the conversation just did not go well at all I’m sorry to say. Tina would not put me through to Michelle. I talked with Tina in length about Kevin and I working together and what it would mean to me. She told me that she did not want me to call back and she resented the calls to her. That she was Kevin’s wife (nine years, second marriage for both) and those things had more meaning to her than to any of us. She resented me asking. I suppose I should have waited and continued calling until Tina answered, but I really feel that Tina would be short stopped… (with) the computer. She is really on the defensive, and I won’t repeat some of the things she said. Anyway, I’m sorry and I tried. I don’t think you will get that computer from her as long as she has custody of it. She says it’s her computer and that she purchased it and that Kevin was just using it. She said the computer stays. I’m sorry.”

“Why do ‘you’ never get an answer when you’re knocking at the door?” Moody Blues

 

This picture was taken of my brother when he visited us, April 1983. This child’s mother had flown to visit her family, out of state, and the young girl was left with her father. When Kevin learned this, he immediately spent days caring for this young girl while her father worked. I watched from afar and photographed precious moments. Kevin was tender and my love for their tenderness moved forward in my heart and my world. I have one picture of Kevin in a hammock, and this young girl is pushing with all her might to ‘sway the hammock’. Texas Hill Country

 

“Who, what, when, where, how, why?” Will you accept my invitation to listen to plant seeds for others after reading this?

I received this email after Kevin’s death, working to correct inaccuracies and retrieve Kevin’s research:

“Does the phrase: ‘You *don’t* want that to appear on the public record, do you?’ — mean anything to you? Kevin told me that is what was said to him, repeatedly, by all kinds of authority figures. He said it about drove him crazy, and eventually Kevin just ran out of energy. Further, any attempt he made pre-Internet days to get his work out was stymied and stopped. By the time the net was functioning and he could get his work out, it was too late, he got too sick. And, like most people who suffer from what he had, (it) set in, just rendered him incapable of continuing. He realized it would be up to the next generation of people to pick it up.”

“The brain processes sequential information in a linear way. Measure the risk, go over your notes and go upward.” Steve Wynn

I also received this email:

“As I review articles in the next couple months, I will send you relevant links. The USA is not the only country guilty of this sort of chicanery. Someday, when the story emerges, people will be astounded. … Many, many red herrings in the news, to keep the public in the dark. Soon, antibodies will develop in those left, to make them resistant to bacteriological warfare, and the rest will be dead. You see it already in those diagnosed with HIV, living longer and longer. Genes mutate. People want that tiny diagnosis and that magic bullet. They really don’t care about the whole picture, never have. Occasionally, you meet the educated few who really *want* to know…and are repeatedly discounted by MDs and others who have been told ‘You really don’t want that on the public record …’ So they don’t tell the public. It could cost them their licenses.”

I responded via email:

“Thank you for sharing. Thank you for confirming Kevin’s research and work. In time, my brother’s work will be seen and studied as being right on target — horrifically, on target. Kevin, who studied at Stony Brook, NY, and under Nobel Laureate’s, was accurate in the facts and the stats and the numbers. He always said, ‘they’ (numbers) don’t lie. Kevin spent the last two years of his life trying to share, then realizing the messenger was not being listened to — then he shifted back into straight reseearch. His research was printed in JAMA, many, many medical associations. My baby brother … he went out — swinging, working to share the facts about viruses and ‘how’ they are/were spread. I’m still swinging in the bull’s pen, working to ‘make’ lemonade and to continue to keep faith in the bigger lessons. Your validation is a bittersweet message.”

I also received this email:

“I have now found out what is bugging a host of others with unnamable diseases and slow healing patterns. The culprit: mycoplasmae – microscopic organisms related to bacteria, which come in hundreds of varieties. I have long suspected the existence, but got the first real confirmation today (with an) internist’s office… I could go into the molecular biology of these darlings, but why bore you?

Suffice it to say, Kevin was right. As far back as 1942, the US gov, military complex, and some other world govs have been releasing such microplasmas on unsuspecting populations, noting the development of “wasting diseases” among them, of course, Hep C, on population levels. Since fully 3/4th of the world has been infected by now, and it’s from the very air we breathe and environment in which we live, you see the scope of the problem. They mostly lie dormant throughout our lives, but can be activated in periods of extreme stress. I’m convinced they cause everything from chronic fatigue syndrome to sub-clinical pneumonia. Further, they are hard to grow in vitro, as they are parasitic, need a human host with all our complex chemicals (including sterols, like CHOLESTEROL) to eat. You have high cholesterol? Guess what? You’ve been reprogrammed to produce it by these unwanted guests. I could go on with examples, but it would just make you sicker to read it all.”

I received this email: “Yeah, Kevin told me all about it. It was pretty right out of Hollywood. You can’t believe how fast fed agencies (and others) can move when this stuff is on the line. It will eventually leak out over the web, in fact, it already has. Experimental testing of Brucella concentrate in or around 1960s, as well as people dumping toxic wastes right in the ocean … the bacterial mycoplasm that got into lungs. The country was sprayed with it. It’s been dormant for almost 50 years, and now, is now activating all over the place…over 6,000 with ‘flu’ in Colorado and several deaths. There will be many, many getting sick as these mycoplasms activate!

Fact is we were poisoned, along with about 100,000 other people, some of whom will begin displaying symptoms as their immune systems weaken with exposure to pathogens, allergens and other stressors.  Mycoplasma, long buried in tissue, will begin to activate. The news reported ‘an unknown number of adult deaths’ so far due to pneumonia and flu in Texas, 34 deaths to children known. A friend asked ‘So, we are going to die from this?’ I replied, ‘We could. We don’t have to, however, if we tell our story straight to the doctors we see when we have flare-ups, and avoid medicine interactions because they think we have arthritis or joint pain and give us things which further inflame the pneumonia.’  As more responders get the condition, people will learn what to do.

In addition, Kevin’s work on Hep C, finding out about the pollutants and wasting diseases, etc., is all important because it gives an independent verification of ‘wasting diseases’ and the constant pollution by world governments and industrial organizations since before WW II.  In short, biological warfare has been around a long time.”

Monette:  If Kevin were here, right about now, Kevin would say, “OK, folks. Let’s gather around. According to the history and charts, here’s what we have …”

 

Kevin Drue Donnelly created statistical charts, (he showed each to me) when he was an employee of Equitable. Picture dated in his handwriting, 1986.

 

Then, I know, my brother, Kevin, would review how he was given the Hep C diagnosis, how Kevin was given inaccuracies. Kevin would share how he began to ‘hunt for his own truth’ with medical records, reviewing past activities, and Kevin would share now how he discovered, alterations, inaccuracies within his military medical records. (I documented this in the first tribute ‘anniversary’ sharing, “He Was A Brother, A Vet, and He Died Before His Time.”)

Kevin would say if inaccuracies involved:

1. After diagnosis, a letter arrived at his home from the military stating he must have acquired this disease from ‘homosexual activity or intravenous drug use’;

2. A representative knocking on his door from the local cemetery. Kevin called over his shoulder, “Tina, it’s for you,” and went back to work, then Kevin phoned people to share his world and he requested to be buried with the military comrades, requesting Arlington;

3. A biopsy he later learned, performed by Dr. Melissa Parker was used, in part, as part of research, perhaps to be sold (Kevin wrote a letter complaining in writing about the procedure and doctor to NY State Department of Health);

4. His widow, Tina Velocci Donnelly, stated that there was a spare bullet left on a dresser the moment of Kevin’s death with neighbors, Kevin’s birth family, immediately after Kevin’s death and shared he was waiting for others on his last night on earth (an inaccuracy that police, law enforcement and others later proved to be absolutely inaccurate by every professional in the residence who documented the truth);

5. Kevin’s birth family, each, was told this inaccuracy, in real-time, as we were told of his death;

6. The American flag initially was not going to be over a 22-year veteran’s casket until I phoned the Dalton Funeral Parlor with facts and promised to make a scene during the entire wake (Kevin received his ‘flag’ in return for ‘no obituary’, negotiated by his widow to Kevin’s Sister through the employee of the funeral parlor) The employees in the funeral parlor insisted the widow did not request, nor had completed paperwork for military status, which would automatically ensure the flag;

7. Kevin’s rank was incorrect on his Calverton Cemetery tombstone, papers filed incorrectly by Kevin’s widow, Justine Velochi Lomonte Donnelly, a veteran;

8. Kevin’s predictions would each come true — to include his research not being returned to the Hep C community, items important to his mother and father’s family would not returned — multiple other predictions – predictions which included the size of the wreaths during Kevin’s ‘wake’ and the verbatim quotes on wreath ribbons – each 100% true, frightening accurate to some of us.

With these inaccuracies, and there are more – well, folks, Kevin would stand tall and would pronounce: “Each source of each of these inaccuracies would prove to have a credibility problem. The facts speak, data speaks, correct sources are well known and documented. Move on!” Then Kevin would fold his charts, put his facts away and would get back to the important items, discovering why there is such a virus, and what we can do to help veterans and people with this disease.

“And, after all, what is a lie? Tis but The truth in masquerade.” Lord Byron, Don Juan

Kevin would share how he worked to find answers for himself as he helped others online, answered emails, returned phone calls – while his phone lines began to be tapped, military vehicles drove by his house, parked on his small cul-de-sac, bushes were run over in his yard – odd things began to occur in his world. Kevin would shake his head and go back to his bunker, back to the trench. Kevin would share how he gathered information for people to contact their politicians, how to ask specific questions to their doctor(s), how to reach out when others were alone, when others were ‘thinking’ they were ‘alone’.

Kevin would extend his invitation to others day and night. Will you accept my invitation to share, to help others? Kevin would share how his Hep C advanced without medical treatment as his personal world turned on a dime when he decided not to sell the rights to “The Panama Story” a book he wrote, one chapter a night. Kevin always said, “If I sell my work, my research will never be taken seriously. I do not want my life defined by the activities of people in this house. I will not sell my research or my story.”

But Kevin did document and share with others. He asked them to hold the records, packages he mailed, items he personally wrapped and sent, so ‘history would know.’ This ‘is’ the truth, folks.

“I’m not old enough to play baseball or football. I’m not eight yet. My mom told me when you start baseball, you aren’t going to be able to run that fast because you had an operation. I told Mom I wouldn’t need to run that fast. When I play baseball, I’ll just hit them out of the park. Then I’ll be able to walk.” Edward J. McGrath, Jr.

Kevin wrote articles, collected data, researched the CDC, Red Cross, Rockefeller Foundation – he spent hours and hours on these groups. Kevin gathered information and data from the Freedom of Information Act, documenting in depth their fingerprints with a trail of ‘viruses’ and ‘illnesses’ and history of Hep C. Kevin sorted through ‘tribes’ (my term) when people took stances that were not based on facts, stats, numbers, education. Kevin did write about the history of how the virus was man-made, documenting the series of events 1941, 1942 and forward. Read his “The Panama Story.”

As the disease ravaged his body, Kevin made choices to include not seeking treatment; choices addressed here and also in previous ‘tributes’ I’ve written prior to 2005. Each year, I attempt to answer a little more. I’ve planted seeds each year. I have. People were not ready for all the answers, perhaps I was unable to share all, too. And my world has had a few gremlins in it, too. Preparing this Tribute, emails from others corresponding with me have had problems, my phone has not worked, little bumps have gone ‘boof’ in the night. After Kevin was court evicted out of his home, and the largest inaccuracies attempted to become fact, I listened and continued to pray.

Kevin did publish research, composed his emails, authored articles about bacteria, viruses. He did hold back ‘some’, as he was warned to do. Though Kevin worked tiredly, he did try to work with some of the world leading international virologists. He worked direct with them hoping, pleading they would share the facts they know. Kevin’s research, work, was taken out of his home when he lived there. The doors were broken on his office door. They were.

He knew and shared with a specific group. Kevin wanted his research to be shared, and if it wasn’t, he laid the groundwork for others to know what his world had been like; the hell within his residence and within his body that was ‘killing’ him. I wasn’t sure how I would ‘share’ this year. I decided to share this year when one event occurred. I had been praying, hoping that my sharing would assist others, would prevent ‘my path’.

My dad’s diagnosis with Hep C still is ‘raw’ anguish, as I know more than the average person, family member, who receives this ‘bit’ of information. I was in another state on business. In the hotel, I ordered a meal in the restaurant. A man waited to take my order, stood, tray in hand, pencil poised midair. He asked where I was from. I shared. We discussed the NBA playoffs. I was rooting for the Spurs. He was rooting for the other team.

This young man shared he had to root for the other team since he grew up near them. He was in this city temporarily; he’s in the military. Still scanning the menu, I glanced up, softly shared, “my brother was in the military.” He asked where. I sighed, paused, and said softly, “He ‘was’, sir. The young man asked, “Where is he now?” I paused, looked out the window. “Heaven,” I replied. “Oh, what did he die of? He casually, instantly asked.” I paused, voice soft, “He died with Hepatitis C.”

The young man, tray now on his left hip, said, I quote: “OH, I had two friends kill themselves last week with Hep C. That’s how all the veterans and soldiers are going now. They don’t want to ‘die with’ this disease. They didn’t know each other, but each did the same thing and used the same weapon. Just last week. Two. So, how did your brother die?”

“… And the playing stopped in the playground now … And school’s out early and soon we’ll be learning; the lesson today is how to die, and then the bullhorn cackles, and the captain tackles with the problems and the how’s and the why … and you can see no reason, what reason do you need to die, die?” Tori Amos

Stunned, I waited. ‘We had just gone through a lot of information very quickly – in a hotel restaurant. I still grieve. I still pause prior to sharing, wording my words very carefully. Rather than answer, I asked why he was waiting on me. He said he ‘needed’ to keep busy. This soldier shared much about his life, his job, his work in the military. And unexpectedly, he shared about military vaccinations, experiments and returned to the topic of Hep C.

Slowly, this young man, watching me stare ahead, looking out the window, not at him, asked, “So, how did your brother die ‘with Hep C’?” Prior to answering, I shared about Kevin’s research, advocacy, his website linked by the VA, whipping out a card and handing it to him. I did not want to answer this question. I remember asking, “Don’t you need to wait on others? I’m not the only one here.” “Nope,” they’re all taken care of.”

This young man waited for my answer. And when I answered, he bowed his head and said, “I knew it. I could tell by your reaction. Let me know if you need anything. The military may not know how to take care of the soldiers, but we soldiers sure know how to take care of each other. Here’s my name and phone number. If you ever need anything, call.” Again, my world shifted. I ordered a small meal. When I left the restaurant, he shook my hand, took me by the elbow and shared kind words that still tear my eyes. I thanked him, turned, walked away, shoulders back, head down.

And I remembered the incident that occurred riding from the airport to this hotel. The driver, a young woman, spoke about AIDS and … asked me about Hep C. I had been up earlier that day, changed planes, been de-shoed ‘by’ airport security, had gone through a long, dang day to get my shoes in that car. I do not wear a sign, or a ribbon or an armband, yet this topic, conversation, seems to appear, repeatedly. Sometimes, I will just wait silently, perhaps hoping the topic will change. Nope, not this time. Dang it, not this time. I remember slumping in the back seat, working not to roll my eyes, fatigued from the day, fatigued from ‘where’ this conversation could go. The driver did not see or sense my reluctance. She chirped on and on, asking what I knew; she had some friends who had just been diagnosed. Within the enclosure of this car, from the airport to the taxi I shared information, facts. When we arrived at the hotel, she said, “I’m afraid now.”

“Afraid of what?” I asked. She said, “I’m afraid I could get it.” I paused, thought and said softly, “Well, this is no different than your mother telling you to look both ways before you cross the street. Now you do look both and you’re safer for it, right?” “Oh, yes,” she said. She thanked me, took the card I ‘share’ for Hep C advocacy, for Kevin, and she refused the tip. “Oh, no, I learned so much from you. No one here talks about it. We’re all frightened; I never could have learned this from the radio or TV. I can’t accept your money and I won’t.”

After I went up to my room, I fell backward on the bed. Had I shared too much? Why does this conversation keep occurring in my world? Did I share as an advocate, seven years now? I leaned over, exhausted, still dressed from the airport, bags at the door, I turned on the radio. The song on the radio was playing, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” and my eyes teared with tears that people do not see. I cried that perhaps – perhaps, again, I had shared what ‘was’ needed. And I lay on that bed, looking at the hotel ceiling until the song ended. Then I slowly got up, wiped my tears, unpacked my bags, re-entered my world. So, after the restaurant conversation, when the waiter, finished ‘our’ conversation, I went upstairs and sat in the chair overlooking the paved, empty parking lot.I prayed and asked God how I could honor Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly this fifth year. This ‘sharing’ here is my answer.

I also received this email:

“… you can talk directly to a person’s spirit now and help them. It takes some time to withdraw from the body … the Tibetans say weeks, in fact…that is, death begins weeks before the final breath is taken. At that time the spirit can be reached, and it is good for a relative or friend to sit with it mentally, a bit each night, and tell it what is happening and not to be dejected. We don’t have anything like the Tibetan book of the dead for our culture, but basically they remind the spirit of its divine nature, and that it is a natural thing which is happening and not to be confused or concerned.

… when you are dying, the subconscious turns inside out, its very hard to explain. That is why prayers to the spirit are so important. As the body loses (it), the wetware in the brain becomes incoherent. It’s hard to sort out present time from past and future time.”

I was forwarded this email last year, immediately, after posting my Fourth Tribute to Kevin, 2004:

“Thank you so much. This is a great way to start my day. I had given up trying to find the tribute to Kevin a few months ago. I had read it last year, had saved it to my favorites, and I would often go to the link and read from it. I lost the link when my computer crashed a few months ago, and (once I was up and running), I couldn’t remember his last name and didn’t know how to find the tribute anymore. I looked and looked — to no avail — and now – here it appears. Great way to start my day! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read.”

Email received from a colleague:

“You did a very good job, Monette!  It’s just such a sad story, but with the facts as they exist, there’s not any other spin that could be put on it, and it touches emotions in the reader that probably aren’t touched often, which can be a good thing.  Just knowing he went through all that mostly alone is tragic, and your descriptions of the same are so vivid that it makes me very sad to read it. Your writing also educates the reader, as I’ve learned many things about a disease I have heretofore known little about. I personally know two people who have it right now, and it helped me understand more of what they are dealing with.”

Email received from a colleague:

“Just a quick note to say “Bravo” on your article (writings). I’m glad to know you’ve gotten a lot of support … on the Hep C issue. I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands just like me, who knew relatively nothing about it until you came along. I’m sure Kevin is watching over you with a protective and extremely proud eye. What a sister you are.”

Email received from an acquaintance:

“Monette, do you ever smell anything when you think of your brother?  Have you ever caught the faint scent of something while reviewing his life? For while I was reading this (his first tribute), a pleasant but unfamiliar odor of something like, but not exactly like, lilac, came over me! As soon as I was done reading, it was gone. I didn’t really realize it until the very end. Curious.”

Email received from the Internet:

“Woke up this morning to the strains of the X-Files theme song in my head. Strength, my friend.”

Email received from a member within the Hep C community:

“My sympathy’s to you and your family on Kevin’s passing.  It was indeed sad knowing a good person like him has gone on.  No, I didn’t know him personally, I just knew him from the hepv-l support list.  He gave such good advice and support for hundreds of people, and I think it’s a wonderful thing you are doing to go on and continue his work.”

Email received from someone who knew Kevin and worked with people within the Hep C community:

“For (Tina) to have treated Kevin as such, and then have the nerve to say to someone who knows the truth, that ‘these things mean more to me because he was my husband’, especially since she’s in health care and knows the ramification’s of such treatment, behavior is … inhuman, which is the only word to describe it. If you’re in a vindictive mood sometime, we can compose a letter from the Hep community that starts out like the subject line. It could go on to say that the Hep community knows of your relationship with Kevin, (Tina’s) the isolation and mental cruelty you subjected Kevin to is intolerable from another human being. Your (Tina’s) withholding of Kevin’s latest research has been seen as a blow to those that suffer with the same disease that would have taken Kevin’s life. This research may in the end have pointed to the origin of this mutated virus, and if it was man-made, could have forced an infusion of research funds that would rival AIDS and Cancer. The peace of mind that you are willingly withholding from millions of infected sufferers is despicable. You should be ashamed of yourself. If the saying, ‘What comes around, goes around’ is true, as one hopes, then you are in for a not so pleasant rest of your life, etc. You can type it, send it out here, and we can mail it.”

(I received many, many emails like this and declined all requests.)

Email received from friends of my mom and dad:

“Your ongoing account of the events preceding Kevin’s death are so sad. We did not know of the divorce – just one additional problem.  You can take comfort in the fact that you did visit him and kept in touch and made that sad final journey to attend his funeral.  You should have no regrets.  I hope that the family relations can work themselves out over time. And I hope that Kevin’s work and research is not lost to all those who depended on him. We have many friends who have lost children, and each handles it in his or her own way.  Some refuse to talk of the death.  Mothers will say that the child’s name was never mentioned after he died.  The father wanted it that way.  But it always seemed to me that to deny the death was to deny the life and that is not what I would want.  The family dynamics are forever changed; sometimes it makes the bond stronger, sometimes it divides. Like you, I also think that your dad was trying to keep busy on 11/14/01 – so he wouldn’t have time to think – but it doesn’t work that way.  It is an emotional day and the accompanying stress does make one more prone to mishaps.  That is what I meant by saying that I was not surprised about the date that this accident happened.” (The first birthday that Kevin was not here, my dad, in an effort “to keep busy that day” fell off a ladder and broke his shoulder.)

Email received from Hep C community:

” … his daughter-in-law Michelle is going to get everything we need out of the computer. I talked to her for about ten minutes. She is a very nice girl. I told her I wanted all his email lists as well as any other email addys (addresses) he had. I let her know that they were important for not only the research, but for me to continue helping vets around the country. I also asked her to get any files pertaining to HCV that are still in the computer. I mentioned if there were any printed files, I would like to have those as well. She was very willing and said it would be no problem to get the things I am asking for. Apparently, Tina has ok’d all of this. I also told Michelle that I would pay for any disc’s used and for the postage.” The Hep C community did not receive the requested information or computer or address book. The truth.

Did they – we – receive anything?  Nope.  Not they.  Not Kevin’s parents.  Not. Any.

Email I received from a colleague after attending Kevin’s funeral:

“I’m so sorry to hear of all the things that have hit you.  How blessed you were to be able to help your family and be the one to be there for your brother.  You can be sure that in such a difficult time you were a big help to your parents.  I hope you are feeling better each day, and I hope your dad is getting better each day.”

Email received from a member within the Hep C community:

“I was shocked when I visited the website this morning and learned of Kevin’s death. I had no intention of even visiting the site today but for some reason I did. My husband has been fighting Hep C with PCT for the last two and a half years thru the VA hospital in Indianapolis. Several months ago, I put out a general E-mail on a chat room – don’t even remember which one – asking for help and information with the VA claims process – Kevin was the only answer back I received and his help was valuable beyond any expectation I had.  Not only the guidance he gave, but the hope he conveyed to fight for the rights of our Vietnam vets has helped thru many a long night when my husband was going thru his treatments. I for one will sadly miss a man I never met, but feel I knew.”

“The things you can’t remember are the things you can’t forget — that history puts a saint in every dream …” Tori Amos

Email received from a member within Hep C community:

“That tribute to Kevin, the Captain, was very beautiful indeed.  God, I had just spoken to him via the internet and I did not know that he was so near death.  He never talked about his own problems, as you said just tried to help others. It was a shock for me.  I too have HCV and contracted it via blood transfusion, active duty.  I failed treatments, as I was a non-responder. I am a fully disabled vet now, but I did build my own website.  I had asked Kevin before he passed if I could mention him on my site, and that is my tribute to him.  I will tell everyone I know.  They try to make you feel ashamed of having HCV, like its dirty or something.  But, well, I am not shy and I believe the Captain did a great service to veterans.”

Email received from member within Hep C community:

“That place where ‘member stories’ are posted is a ‘spin off’ of the old SHN broad (Now called WebMD) where I got to know Kevin.  As time passed, Kevin soon left (SHN), that place had way too much fighting about who was right. And the truth is each one of us has to find our own path.  That goes for all of life, no matter what it is about, each of us has an internal guide of what is right and what is wrong.  Kevin stayed in touch with me after the first few months.  Sometimes his e-mail would just be a cute joke or a way of looking at life to make you laugh.  Other times he was just saying ‘Hi!’ We cannot change what was — only try and live life as it is. And know that your brother has a good soul, so I know that he is in a fine place.  *He may even be able to read e-mail* 🙂 Carrie Sue Suldovsky

Many of you on my list did not know Captain Kevin Donnelly.  He spent the last several years of his life helping veterans, and doing deep field research on Hepatitis C, and emailing out all the studies, abstracts, other pertinent information – some only available due to the Freedom of Information Act – to a rather large group of us activists out here on the internet.  His work is invaluable, both his work to help vets, and his deep field research.  His work with the vets was a key factor in opening the doors of the VA to help veterans afflicted with Hep C, and his deep field research has profound implications for the world at large. Kevin was not finished working that research into a cohesive whole yet, and we activists who are left have a sacred obligation set before us to do! I will miss my friend Kevin.  We exchanged email, shared information, gave each other encouragement, talked on the phone, joked about seagulls, and understood – at a deep level – each other’s loss to this disease. The best way I know how to both honor Kevin and fight The Dragon, is to give people information, to be sure that once that cohesive whole is reached, people are fully educated or at least aware regarding Kevin’s findings.  To that end, I begin here, now, giving my friends a chance to read about Kevin’s story.”

Email received from member within Hep C community:

“Kevin and I did a lot of work together over the Internet and had many phone conversations.  He and I did a radio interview here in Huntsville, AL (Kevin called and we had a three-way interview) where I live and started a support group with Kevin as my inspiration. I had been e-mailing Kevin for the past few weeks and never received a reply.  I thought he was mad at me.  I went to his website to look up some info for a fellow Vet who I work with and found out the awful news. I’m sitting here at work crying writing this e-mail.   Please let me know what I can do for Kevin. I felt like I always knew him and loved him dearly. I stood up for him when those who wanted to destroy him did their dirty work.”

Email received from a neighbor who knew Kevin all his life:

“Kevin was born and grew up in a house diagonally behind mine. Among his playmates were my children. I admired his intelligence and sometimes mordant wit. I am glad that in spite of his affliction, he found a way to transmute it into an activity that helped others. His too-early death was regretted by all who knew him.”

Email received from member within Hep C community:

“After a year a whole year … I now learn the truth. I am in such a state of shock. I had not one clue that Kevin had all that going on in his life. I’m so very sorry to learn all of this. I pray now for his soul. I cry ‘real tears running down my face!’ for my loosing a good friend, one who I only wish had shared with me as much as I shared with him. Kevin knew so very much about my life. Due to him being on the list he got to know me very, very well. The “list” had become my safe place. I could go there and tell all, the daily stuff we let get to us — the up and downs of life. Kevin was there with kind words when my grandparents needed me to care for them. Kevin was across the United States from me and my house, yet he was right here to help anytime I turned on my computer. He, as I, knew how there had to be something gone wrong for so many of us to be ill with HCV.”

Information sent and received from Internet:

Calverton Cemetery #  800-347-8619, Captain’s grave: Section 42, Grave #2502-R, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, NY  11933-0424  

 

Email received from a veteran who served with Kevin:

“After your call, a darkness descended on us. You may never really understand how dear Kevin is to us.  The news of his death is a very hard knock for us, all by it self. I have put my Hep. C on the backburner, and visit my doctors very quietly and without fanfare. It may sound a little odd to you, but here it is. I have decided that I want nothing to do with the whole issue of Hep. C.  I am being a little selfish here, I know. But it is just that I want to preserve the best qualities of life that I can, for my families sake. I can not change what has happened to us, but I can choose what course I go down. And, aside from seeing a doctor now then, I do not want to devote any of my “Precious” time to this issue. Please try and understand.  Life is to short and I feel that I have to make this very painful decision for my family. I would be honored to meet you in person. I do wish you the best in your endeavor to carry on Kevin’s quest. You certainly sound like you have the “Intestinal Fortitude” {one of Kevin’s favorite terms = The Guts} for the job. And I know Kevin is very pleased with all that you are doing. Oh, by the way, I don’t know if I told you but, I have been receiving full cooperation from the V.A.  Any time or anything I need, they have put at my disposal.  This is an exception to the rule, but it is happening this way because of Kevin’s work, I am sure.”

Email received from an acquaintance:

“I was so insensitive and never sent a card after I heard about your brother’s death.  That is such a terrible disease. My husband’s mom died from that disease, too.  She just took such a rapid decline. She could have NO protein, lost weight, lost clarity in her thoughts, bruised all the time and then finally died.  We had round the clock care for her, and she got so ornery she kept firing everyone that was hired.  It was a tough go of it. My heart goes out to you and your brother’s family.”

Email received from a mentor:

“I admire your stance on your brother’s death.  As we spoke before, I think his legacy was one that you are now charged with bringing to the world (what an awesome responsibility).  As if you had nothing more to do.”

Email received from Kevin’s friend and veteran:

“First, I wish to share with you how hurt I am, by my government’s actions and ways.  I gave my best to my country. I actually ended up doing multiple tours of duty in three branches of the service. … I ran a surgical clinic. You see I bought into their bullshit. You know what I mean; don’t ask what your country can do for you… mom’s apple pie, honor and country, etc….  Then I grew up or maybe I just woke up. Anyways, I became very disillusioned at first. I really believed we all represented the country’s finest. And our government would always be there for us. And I have to wonder, is our gov. this ignorant? The wall of propaganda the government depends on to fool its countrymen is deteriorating more and more with each passing generation.  I think this is what frightened the gov. the most about Timothy McVeigh, not the death of the innocent victim’s, but warrior recognizing his enemy, and the threat it poses. A warrior they created! (don’t misunderstand me here. I do not believe or support the actions taken by McVeigh. I just feel that I can understand his motivation. I am sorry. I am getting a little carried away here and I don’t want to give you the wrong impression.

Kevin is (sic) one dearest of the people in my life. We naturally go way back. We became men together. Our comradely, shared memories, and experiences represented the essence of true friendship. A bond that was everlasting.  This was best demonstrated when Kevin called me, after nearly 20 years of no contact.  It was as if I had just seen him yesterday. I immediately was at his disposal. Anything for my brother.  In the beginning, I worked very hard for Kevin. (as a silent partner; we both decided this was best.) We communicated by phone and snail mail daily, for secrecy needs. And on the net when it was in our best interest to do so.

Kevin understood instantly that I could be a valuable resource to his research and our newly defined mission, and I responded with the same enthusiasm for truth as did Kevin. After about a year of working with Kevin on a daily basis, I started to back off on the big picture and started focusing on my own Hepatitis C and my own personal battles with the V.A. (which Kevin was in full agreement with). And boy, did I rattled a few cages at my local V.A., which seemed to entertain Kevin immensely.  To this day, my locale V.A. is baffled as to origins of all these copies of ‘The Panama Story’ showing up in the waiting rooms.  I watched many copies leave the building in the hands of veterans.”

After my dad’s Hep C diagnosis, I received:

“It is a strange world, Monette. My heart goes out to your father and you. How terrible. Keep praying, I believe there is purpose even in our horrible experiences, but I hate them just the same.”

After my dad’s diagnosis, I received:

SHIT isn’t the word for it honey pie. But then I can’t picture you saying the BIG word, so I’ll say it for both of us. I’ve been saying it all afternoon. Your dad is NOT of a healthy age, or healthy enough, to withstand interferon. How old is he exactly? He’s probably had this for 26 years, and he could be in a cirrhosis stage by now. I also know people who have been in cirrhosis for over 20 years with Hep C, including my wonderful friend who got Hep C from a tattoo in a concentration camp in Germany. She, only this past May, died from Liver Cancer due to the Hep C. She was well into her 80s. She only got really sick with it when it went into the cancer. So tell him to keep his chin up.

Depression, moodiness, lack of appetite, insomnia, dark urine, bad taste in his mouth, itchy skin, discolored skin (yellow) are all symptoms. Should he feel the need to have some wine, they are making a couple different brands of non-alcoholic wine that are pretty tasty. Join the angry masses my dear. This surely is everyman’s disease. The chances of your mom being infected too are very small, but I’m glad you told her to get tested too. ASSURE them both that this may not kill him either! Many more people live with this than die from it. Besides, he has nine lives and he hasn’t used up enough of them yet, so I know the good Lord will NOT take him with this disease. Give your mom my love. This has to be killing her. Hug your folks and tell your dad my heart is with him….and with all of you.”

 

After I received dad’s diagnosis, I emailed 12/16/04:

Dad phoned me this morning, stunned, right after he learned, on the phone from the doctor’s office. Dad went to GP for checkup.  GP thought it ‘was liver’ and perhaps prostate cancer had moved up. On that theory, the day after Thanksgiving, dad went for a liver scan and later blood work.  I kept insisting he not fool around with this.  I even stomped a few offices when they would not give him an appointment until January. I kept thinking of Kevin and liver.  No matter what, if it’s liver, it can be serious, Kevin would say.

Many people were upset with me for phoning the doctors’ offices and raising hell; I don’t give a damn and said so.  He was not to wait until January for an appointment, not with his health history and cancer history. Dad phoned stunned today and said they may suggest interferon (before a liver biopsy!).  I had a talk with him about ‘gas’ and told him he needs to find out the strain, etc., that I would (be) asking for specific questions.  I also told him that mom needs to be tested.  Stunned, he agrees.

Dad is now getting a script for more blood work, and he will ask for one for mom; then he will go and have blood drawn. I am unclear if a (mature) man with all his health issues, should even consider undergoing interferon, a drug which Kevin always said was not good (in his time).  Perhaps it has changed since Kevin’s death, but I do not believe a man with dad’s age and health issues is strong enough to be ‘gassed’.  Dad also asked if he can drink wine. … I said, “you know the answer, but you should sip slowly, if you do….”

Dad has outrun death since 1977 — TRULY.  Doctors have told us they are unable to figure out how he has survived.  The first surgeon in 1977 did not bill dad, when dad pulled out tubes from his arm, left the hospital and drove from the east coast to California, sending a picture to the doctor with his toe in the Pacific Ocean — after that doctor gave him, maybe, six months to live. All I can do is wonder ‘how’ two members of my family could get this. Dad had many blood transfusions in late seventies, early eighties. Thank you for your response. I’m ‘stunned’, but am cheerful to dad.  I keep telling him, they thought it was liver cancer and it’s only Hep C — Out of the two, Hep C is a better draw.  Dad agrees.

Head low, I’ve been through so much with Hep C and Kevin’s path and then post-his death.”

The email received below is in response to the above-email:

WHAT???? OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU SAY??????? THIS CAN’T BE TRUE!!!!!

He needs a Genotype Test and an HCV RNA PCR QUANTITATIVE TEST. Have them do a ‘CBC With Differential’ and a full blood work-up. He needs to know his liver enzyme levels, albumin and bilirubin levels, iron and Ferritin levels, protein levels and he needs a PTT and especially an Alfa Feto Protein test. (the last is a tumor marker)

OMG, I am crying here. This is just unbelievable. Tell him to get a liver biopsy. At his age, they most likely will not let him do treatment. This is just so shocking. I’m sooooo sorry to hear this, and to have you all go through this AGAIN. What an awful Christmas present for you all. Please know that I am praying for all of you and for his tests to come back looking good. How could Kevin let this happen up there?? That was probably not a very fair thing to say…sorry.”

I received this email received immediately after the above email:

They can’t recommend interferon until they see the biopsy and assess his case after the biopsy. That would be foolish to tell him to take therapy without knowing what’s going on with his liver. There are many options. Not just intereferon. He may do well without the therapy and might be able to wait until something better comes along. It all depends on his biopsy and how far advanced his disease is. The treatment is very, very rough and at his age, if the disease isn’t far advanced, I would think that they would just let it rest and have him take good care of his liver. Just my opinion. Again, it all depends on his biopsy. We won’t know anything until then…just speculations.”

Newspaper article, Sunday June 26, 2005

“Hepatitis C testing will be offered free”By Tracy Idell Hamilton

” … The San Antonio AIDS Foundation is offering the free hepatitis tests along with free HIV tests – Monday is National HIV Testing Day. …And for every person infected with HIV, four are infected with Hepaitis C, said Dr. Anastacio Hoyumpa. In 1999, only 51 cases of Hepatitis C were reported to the city’s public health department. In 2004, more than 4,000 cases were reported.”

Conversation I had with a member within Hepatitis C community:

“My turning point was LeighAnn and Kevin, to start. We’d talk about him not getting a transplant and Kevin would say, “My family has grown and I’ve lived my life.”

Conversation I had with a member within Hepatitis C community:

“Kevin always had a joke to make someone laugh. He was always on chat rooms helping others. We made a connection. He helped a lot of people. We were personal friends. He made me smile, and he was a funny guy, And I miss Kevin, I do, and he was a good guy. Every Vet I meet, I ask, Do you have Hep C? They say, I don’t know. I say, Get Tested. 63% of all Viet Nam veterans have Hep C. I was wounded twice, had surgeries. The meatball surgeries were done in Viet Nam. They patched you up, sewn you up and put you back in war. … That’s how I got Hep C. Now I help others.”

Conversation with veteran, friend of Kevin, 2005:

“Kevin and I used to talk about Hep C, where the virus came, the numbers of people with Hep C. I don’t understand … for all the statistics with Hep C and the numbers, there’s not a lot of talking about Hep C. There needs to be more talking. Look at the numbers with AIDS and the numbers with Hep C, nobody is talking. When Kevin was really active and things were getting spooky, Kevin wanted me to call the same people he did, to see if I got the same reactions. I started getting phone calls at my home at 3:00 a.m. from people, many who would not identify themselves. Some were from people all over the world, WHO (World Health Organization) representatives, many were from Australia. All of them would say, you’re on the right track, you’re getting closer. Some would say ‘keep going,’ others would say, ‘stop it.’ We were talking to top virologists around the world. One woman told us where she was working and said she could lose her career, and she said to keep working. Kevin and I received these calls at our homes in the middle of the night. And Kevin phoned me when the federal van parked in the cul-de-sac. He phoned me, as he was watching it.

But what bothers me still, is why aren’t people talking about the numbers. Where did it come from? What’s going on with the increasing numbers of people. Nobody is talking. I’ve seen the mathematical (tables). People are buying time. They should be talking about the disease. Kevin did all he could. He did.”

So I ask, will you accept my invitation to share with others? I have tried to address some of the ‘who, when, where, what, how and why’ here. Many of the answers are in prior postings each year. I have labored to be respectful of Kevin’s widow and family, people, my own family. Time is slipping away. I have shared conversations, emails from people who were with Kevin five years ago tonight, people who were important in Kevin’s world. I have shared conversations, emails from people who gave me the strength, the courage to move forward; I also shared the moment I decided ‘I had’ to write this Fifth Tribute.

“So put a candle in the window and a kiss upon his lips,as the dish outside the window fills with rain…You pay the fiddler off until I come back again, and it’s time, time, time, it’s time.” Tori Amos

Time is slipping away. Some research and data that Kevin requested ‘be’ tucked away, photocopied, per Kevin’s request, is being shared where we may and will continued to be shared. People are waiting. Please accept my invitation to plant seeds for others. They will thank you. They will. You will help others. You will. As I wrote earlier, preparing this Tribute, emails ‘suddenly’ did not work, my phone unexpectedly began to not work, again. Last night, my husband looked at me and said, “You know what Kevin would say, don’t you?” I replied, “Oh, yes, honey, I believe I do. I know I do. And then he would tell me to ‘deal with it’ and get back to work.”

And I end with the email that began at the top of this sharing with ‘Part One of this Fifth Tribute’ to Captain Kevin Donnelly, after sharing more information, continuing to comfort others, –I continue to challenge the virologists, journalists, medical professionals, government officials, veterans to come forward and to change this path, one conversation at a time. I gathered all these pictures from pictures Kevin had. Some pictures had staples still included in the photo, others had tape still attached. I know these pictures were important to Kevin.I took the pictures to the store and had digital copies made, with prints.The man and woman working on the pictures, volunteered they “don’t know anyone with Hep C yet” and they thanked me for my work. They ended with: “You are doing good work. You really are.” I nodded my head, experienced a twinge in my stomach, turned to exit the store. With the pictures in my right hand, the stereo that had not been playing began mid-song to sing through the speakers. 

Carly Simon was singing: “Hey, ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend …You just call out my name, and you know I’ll be there. Hey now, all you’ve got to do is call. Lord, I’ll be there, yes, I will.” James Taylor

I paused, the hair stood up on the back of my neck; I looked up to the ceiling where the speakers were tucked. I nodded my head for a moment, I listened for a moment, put my shoulders back, my chin up. I exited the store into the hot Texas heat, got in the car and drove back to the trenches. I began this Tribute with this email.

I want to end with this email I received from dear friend:

“I know your brother made a difference on the planet out of what you share with me about him. Kevin’s willingness to keep having a conversation that many people wanted to ignore has made a difference with many people and also allowed Kevin to experience for himself a purpose being fulfilled.”

 

This picture is ‘Rambo’, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, in the Catskills, a member of the Catskill 500 Mountain Climbing Association. This was a ‘path’ Kevin had to take to earn his Catskill certification membership. A membership Kevin earned and cherished.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly

November 14, 1958 – August 5, 2005

Fifth Year Tribute

1www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

2012 -12th Tribute, Truth Continues, Cassandra’s Truth, and Emmett’s Life

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly:

“12th Year Tribute, Truth Continues, Cassandra’s Truth, and Emmett’s Life”

August 5, 2012

 

By Monette Benoit, Kevin=s Sister

Copyright 2012

 

“Who, What, When, Where, How, Why, Captain Kevin’s Truth, Part Three”

 

Twelve years ago, prior to midnight, alone, August 4th, 2000, my youngest brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly departed this world.  Kevin left a wide path to document the Truth.

He educated, advocated, taught, and assisted thousands of individuals in the early stages of HCV, hepatitis C, and related issues affecting the patient, their spouses and partners; parents; children; and siblings, like me.

“Big boys don’t cry. Hey, I’m not ashamed to say a tear is in my eye

Because another tear will take its place before I die.”  Extreme

I am simply ‘a sister’.  That’s it.

As I write this 12-Year Tribute, Olympians gathered in London sharing the talents and strengths of international athletes who are now uniting together.

As I write this 12-Year Tribute to my brother, Captain Kevin,

I am mourning the recent death of my father, Emmett J. Donnelly, a veteran, a medic, social worker, counselor, historian, teacher, ham radio operator, avid-life enthusiast, and another veteran who also received the diagnosis of HCV, hep C at the age of 76.

Oh, Emmett wanted to live.

Emmett “really” wanted to live.  He died in a manner that I would not wish upon any person.  Dad just did not “want to go,” and Emmett fought death until he was 90 pounds, unable to walk, unable to eat, blind, and his body was wracked with diseases.

Emmett continued to say each day, “I have things I still want to do.  Really.  And when I walk down the hall I can start doing the things that are still important to me.  Busy.  Busy. Busy. That’s me.”

I watched this winding road and listened for months.

Then I watched the surgically inserted infusion feeding tube, multiple surgeries, multiple tubes, IVs and twenty-five-plus hyperbaric, HBO, treatments in multiple hospitals.

The newspaper printed a Father’s Day Tribute to Emmett J. Donnelly, June 2012.

I have included a link here: http://captainkevindonnelly.com/?page_id=544

Does Emmett’s death certificate say “HCV?”

He was treated for hep C since his diagnosis.

Was it noted on his death certificate?

Nope.

 Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, his son (my brother) and Emmett J. Donnelly, veteran, (father to Kevin and to me) each have death certificates where their HCV is not listed.

Another prediction of Kevin’s.

Another example where true numbers are not accurately documented.  Fact.

A full moon is now in the evening sky.

This month, August 2012, is a Blue Moon month.

A Blue Moon month is one where there is a full moon twice in the same month.

Hence, the term “once in a blue moon.”

The next Blue Moon month will occur in 2017.

In, 2017 I will be listening too, as I promised my youngest brother. I will.

 I have listened.  Oh, I have listened.  After listening, I asked questions.

I have listened for long stretches – so long that individuals ask if I am still on the phone – or still interested – because I have been quiet for extended periods of time.

Each time, in person, and on the phone, I reply, “I’m here.  I’m listening as Kevin asked.” 

Kevin D. Donnelly, the Phi Theta Kappa, National Honor Society, member, was at his best helping veterans and their families cope with the challenges of hospice, caregiving, and hep C treatment.

 Yet this soldier who helped thousands of people around the world, and helped to organize many hep C support groups, and who helped veterans to learn how to accurately document their symptoms and treatments to receive military benefits – this soldier died alone, suddenly, in the residence, late in the evening hours of Friday, August 4th, 2000.

“Well, some say life will beat you down, break your heart, steal your crown.

So I’ve started out for God knows where.  I guess I’ll know when I get there.”  Tom Petty

Then, August 5th, 2000, I asked additional questions and listened when Kevin’s widow, Justina [Tina] Velocci Lomonte Donnelly, a nurse and a veteran first began her untruths.

 Then, I listened to Kevin’s three stepchildren, Michelle, Denise, and Rosanna (now adults, now with children of their own), and I listened to a handful who shared inaccurate information and inaccurate facts.

 “Dogs bark at what they don’t understand.”  Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

 

I would never be on this path had Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly been buried with the correct rank on his tombstone.

I would never be on this path had Kevin been waked with respect.

I would never be on this path had Kevin’s parents been treated with respect.  Three simple facts.

 

“Love changes everything, how you lay there, how you die.

Yes, love, love changes everything. It brings you glory, it brings you shame …

Nothing in the world will ever be the same.”  Andrew Lloyd Weber

This 12th year tribute is not about what others and their actions – to include lack thereof – actions created right before Kevin’s death – or what happened immediately after Kevin’s death, though I initiated and finalized all preparations to have the American flag placed on Captain Kevin’s casket in Dalton Funeral Home (and documented), fact, when Kevin’s grieving widow, a veteran, did not request the American flag for Captain Kevin Donnelly’s casket.  Yet there are facts that need to be included to remain truthful and factual.

The night of Kevin’s death, just hours prior to his death, Captain Kevin placed his army uniform, dress blues with captain rank, near the kitchen, on a hanger over the door.

 And how was that detail missed to not have the American flag on his casket?

 

Kevin Drue Donnelly served 22 years in the military.

 How did Captain Kevin receive an incorrect tombstone with inaccurate military rank of second lieutenant placed on his Calverton tombstone?

 

His forms were filled out by his wife, Tina, who had filed for divorce – the divorce Mrs. Donnelly was seeking had a hearing that would have been heard, Suffolk County, the day Captain Kevin Donnelly’s casket was lowered into the ground, August 9, 2000, without any widow.  Everyone went to “Angelas” to have lunch, traveling in large, shiny, black limousines.

 I went to the office, requested a map for his burial, then stood next to the hole in the ground, in the hot August sun, and waited for the union diggers to come back from lunch.

 

When the dark purple 18-wheeler refrigerated truck appeared, I was weak at the knees.

I insisted that the supervisor in the clean, white T-shirt get his “ass out of the truck,” and stand over by brother’s grave.

I requested that the Columbian diggers “bury him with respect,” and they did.

They did.  They did bury Captain Kevin with respect.  Head down, I slowly walked away.

 And the information for the incorrect tombstone was a form filled out by a veteran, Mrs. Justine Donnelly?  Really?  Yes.  Again, facts.

   “By all means, marry.  If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy.

If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”  Socrates

 

Yet I digress. The incorrect tombstone was placed on Captain Kevin’s grave after his widow did not include the American flag on Kevin’s casket for the small wake that had been scheduled.

 

When I learned that the flag would not be included, I followed on one of many promises to Kevin.  He had me promise this one.  He knew.  Fact.

I phoned the Dalton Funeral Home and I told them I would arrive and would not be quiet about this fact until the flag covered his casket.

 I had the flag placed on Kevin’s casket under one condition, per the Dalton’s Funeral Home employee.

 The condition for the American flag from Kevin’s widow, his second wife of seven years – after 20+ years of service to Kevin’s country?

 

No obituary would or could be permitted or printed by me or anyone for Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly in any newspaper in return for the American flag on Kevin’s casket, per his widow.

 And. There. It. Is.  Truth.

I had to promise this to the Dalton Funeral Home employee for Kevin’s casket to have the American flag, my verbal promise, which was then relayed to the widow, prior to her agreeing to have the flag over the casket.  Fact.

 Nice.  I listened there, too.

 “What they do?  They smile in your face. Smiling faces sometimes tell lies.

… Smiling faces – they smile in your face.”  The O’Jays

 Calverton National Cemetery confirmed that Kevin’s wife, Justina Velocci Lomonte Donnelly, nurse and Army veteran, filled out the paperwork.

 Calverton employees were astonished to learn Captain Kevin’s military rank was incorrect after the tombstone was placed over his grave.

 I phoned the cemetery after a picture was sent to me with Kevin’s first tombstone.

 My father initiated that learning curve.  Dad created that initial documentation, to create truth from untruth, when Dad had a simple request – a simple father’s request.

 Dad, ever the historian and grieving father who could not attend his son’s funeral due to Dad’s prostate cancer surgery, wanted to know ‘order of his name, words and dates’ on Kevin’s tombstone.  Dad wanted the details until he could travel and see Kevin’s grave himself.

 (Velocci-s and Lomonte-s – i.e., stepchildren, who attended Kevin’s small funeral (two hours wake in the afternoon; two hours in the evening, August 8, 2000) pulled me aside to ask:  “Why is your family really not here?”

 I replied each time, “My dad really has cancer, and my family had just flown in to be with Dad.  Dad really cannot travel due to the recent surgery.  Really.”  Then I would be asked again why my family ‘really is not here’ – really.)  Fact.

 With all the questions I had asked pre-funeral, during the funeral and post-funeral, and all I had listened to, I had not asked about the wording on Kevin’s tombstone.

 I promised Dad I would get the Dad’s simple request answered.

 Simple, right?  Nope.

I asked friends for a picture of Kevin’s tombstone for our father.

 ———–When the picture was sent to me, I could not have been more stunned seeing Second Lieutenant in front of Kevin’s name rather than the correct rank of captain.

 That was the day everything changed in my world.

 I sat on the floor, just like Kevin had done.  He told me in detail how he focused.

 I gathered all the paperwork, and began to focus – to really focus, as Kevin had done.

 I found documentation that Kevin had asked me to keep.

Some details were sweet, some brought a smile.  Some facts were bittersweet.

 Kevin shared the military expression, “Keep everything except the toilet paper and even that if you can,” with me.  He had taken that expression seriously, as do many veterans.

 I found a recommendation for:

“Award of the Army Achievement Medal, 567th Medical Detachment, 1 August 1981 to 31 July 1982:

 Staff Sergeant Kevin D. Donnelly distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while serving as NCOIC of the 567th Medical Detachment during the period 1 August 1981 to 31 July 1982.  Immediately upon assignment, he set to the task of upgrading unit records and files, initiating and setting up training plans and programs, and revising the unit’s mobilization file.

 He was extremely instrumental in ensuring that all training was carried out in a competent and professional manner, resulting in a well trained, responsive unit.

 Sergeant Donnelly’s strong leadership example, commendable achievements and deep sense of devotion to duty have brought credit on himself, the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, and the United States Army Reserve.”  Anthony M. Giambalve, Col. DC, USAR, Acting Commander, 567th Med Det., Approved, Commander, 808th Station Hospital, 101 Oak Street, Hempstead, NY  11553”

  — As I read the “Recommendation For Award” I realized Kevin’s body already had the hep c virus, gifted by the Army while he was stationed in Germany.

 Kevin had documented his unit’s hep hospital treatment with Kevin’s military records, vaccinations, facts, adenovirus, and speaking to other members in his military division while stationed in Germany.

 Far too high were the numbers in 1997 that documented many were dead, seriously ill and/or diagnosed with HCV, hepatitis C.  Fact.

 Once I learned that Kevin’s rank was incorrect on his tombstone, I ramped up my listening, as Kevin had predicted I would do.  Fact.

 Additionally, I did get a second tombstone with the accurate ‘Captain’ rank placed on his grave  – at taxpayer’s expense. 

Tax payers paid for the second tombstone.  Fact.

 This is not an easy process to replace a tombstone already positioned within a military graveyard.  Yet Calverton employees were astonished and led me through the process.

 I phoned Atlanta, Georgia, to discuss accurate military details after Captain’s Kevin’s rank on all paperwork for the Dalton Funeral Home and Calverton military cemetery was nullified as a second lieutenant.  Fact.

 Paperwork denying Captain Kevin his rank of ‘Major’ in the Army arrived the day of Kevin’s wake, Tuesday, August 8, 2000.  I cannot make this up.  Fact.

 Kevin’s widow shared this ‘major’ detail, then pointed to the “official” envelope positioned in a vertical position, next to a pack of cigarettes, within her purse lying on the floor.  Fact.

 “The time is always right to do what is right.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

 The Truth.  Yes, that’s truth.

 “And, after all, what is a lie?  Tis but the truth in masquerade.”  Lord Byron, Don Juan

 Why?  I gave him my Word.

 Kevin handwrote a letter to the animal shelter (same Bidowee Shelter where his widow took his five cats – many were kittens brought home by Lomonte stepchildren and Kevin’s wife when Tina worked the ER shift as a nurse for Massapequa Hospital).

 Kevin’s 1987 letter (prior to marriage to Justine Velocci Lomonte): 

“Dear Animal Shelter: Hi, my name is Dusty.  I’m a small, gray and white, striped cat.  I look like a typical cat, but am writing to you to thank you and all your staff for being kind to me while I was a temporary guest there at your shelter.

 While I was there, you people – especially the cat girl who fed me – were kind and even petted (sic) me when I meowed.

 I know I was cranky at first – But I’m sure you understand why.

I now live with a really neat family.  I have two friends (cats) and one is my best friend already (Scott).  We play and run all day long and sometimes the people get mad.  Like when I broke the antique – But they still love me and feed me Baby Food or really good cat food.

 I’m now Big and Strong (14 weeks old), and plan on having a life in the sun – on the window ledge (of course).

 The only Bad thing is that they won’t let me go out and play outside, and they took me to get shots – ouch.

 But, I will never forget that you people helped me get to, and through this very difficult time in my kittenhood.

 I do not plan on ever having kittens because of what may happen to them – (I heard terrible rumors about a Back Room where cats sleep forever).

 I guess I just wanted you to know that someone does appreciate what you do and when that next kitten or puppy meows or barks and just asks for a hug or to be pet, please think of me, and take the time that you did with me – because it made all the difference in my world.

 Again, thank you for your kindness and your time and for not charging me rent.

Sincerely,  Dusty” (Kevin signed cat’s name and drew two cat prints)

  — That letter did not surprise anyone in my family.  We each received a copy of his handwritten letter.  That was our Kevin expressing his thanks ‘his’ way.

 Kevin was a good writer; often he sent notes and cards with his custom artwork.

 Birthdays were national holidays in our family. The cards he sent me usually contained custom drawings, were charming and reflected his humor.

 “This is what Eugene and I did over the 4th of July.  It snowed (underlined) five inches in New Hampshire and then onto the Green Mountains, Vermont.

 “We climbed Mt. Washington, 6,288 feet, New Hampshire (Highest park in the northeast.  Highest recorded wind in the world was recorded on the top of Mt. Wash., 231 mph.”

 Kevin then drew (in pen) pictures of he and his friend climbing ‘mountains’ with backpacks containing comical quotes and expressions, as he and his friend hung off the sides of mountains.  Multiple cards he sent me end with hand-drawn pictures of his two cats, Sammy and Dusty, and “Me – Hanging in there, Love, Kevin Drue.”

 October 1989, I received a postcard from Palisades Interstate Park Commission of NY and NJ Bear Mountain State Park, NY:  “Eugene and I went bicycling here one day last month.”

 A full, detailed letter from my brother, November 1989, typed on a new computer includes: “Last weekend Eugene and I entered a family bike day at the beach.  They closed all the roads to the beach, and 20,000 people showed up…  We road 43 miles from Jones Beach to Robert Moses, then back to Jones Beach, and down to Merrick Road, and back to Jones Beach (a good bike afternoon).  We rode on the roads all the way and even rode across the bridges – Great Ride!”

 “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. How does it feel to be on your own? With no direction home. Like a complete unknown.  Like a rolling stone.”  Bob Dylan

 I can just hear Nora Ephron, with her dry wit, say right here,

“Good thing you weren’t told anything awful like there was a gun, and it could have been a triple homicide, and he was waiting for others, right?”

 — And here is the place where I would have to say meekly,

“Well, in fact, Kevin’s parents, his siblings and their spouses were each told exactly that. 

Tina told Kevin’s parents and his family exactly those words the night we learned Kevin had died, August 5th, 2000.”

I heard those words, 8/5/00, from eldest stepdaughter.

 My nephews asked, “How could anyone be so mean to Grand-Ma and Grand-Dad?”

I answered softly, “When adults are angry they can make very bad choices.” 

Then I set about listening and asking pointed questions to law enforcement before we learned, after the funeral (where this was a huge discussion) that there was, in fact, no extra bullet.

 This “was complete bullshit” (and other expletives), and the detective and others wanted to know who the hell told me, so he/they could give them a piece of his mind.

Even he asked, “And your parents were told this?  How awful!” 

Me, “Yes, sir.  Truth.”

 Oh, to have been truthful there.  I have always wanted to be respectful.

Too bad that shoe doesn’t point both ways, eh?

I spoke about truth during the May 2003, “Hep C Movement For Awareness March on Washington and Weekend of Awareness Rally.”

 “The future depends on what we do in the present.”  Mahatma Gandhi

 I was given an opportunity to speak.  I accepted to speak as “Kevin’s Sister” and later gave Captain Kevin’s only eulogy – 2 years and 9 months after his death, May 23, 2003, Memorial Day Weekend, Washington D.C.

 The Truth.  Yes, truth.

The event was professionally preserved on film, too.

 “One thing I got to tell you is that you got to be free; come together right now over me.

Hold you in his arms, yeah, you can feel his disease.

Come together right now, over me.  Come together, yeah!”  The Beatles

 During Captain Kevin’s eulogy I shared the timeless Irish expression: Throw your hat over the wall.

 

During Kevin’s eulogy I shared:

“When the British invaded Ireland, they built high walls to separate the people, the communities, and the families that lived in Ireland.  Then, the Irish were proud people, like Captain Kevin.

The Irish had few belongings to their name, but the men always had one hat.

After the British built the walls, the Irish would go to the man-made wall.

And if one of the men really wanted something, to make a point, a true commitment, a true gesture, they would throw their one and only hat over the wall.

Once the hat was over the wall, and that wall was too high to see over, the Irish man had to go get that hat.

I know Kevin threw his hat over the wall, the wall of hepatitis C, and the wall to the military.

Captain Kevin was willing to go over the wall for what he believed in and for the issues that he was proud to represent – Kevin’s values and the values of Kevin’s country.

 

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly threw his hat over the wall, and then Kevin just had to go get that durn hat many, many times.

August 4th, 2000, Kevin had no hat to throw over the wall during the Friday evening after he was court evicted out of the residence – More Truth.

The truth is documented factually and accurately in updates about Kevin’s path once he received his hep C diagnosis.

When Captain Kevin died, he died alone.

I now remind you here tonight that you and I each have a hat.

Each of us sees walls every day.

 When you see a wall that seems insurmountable and/or is unbelievably hard, please think of my brother Kevin Drue Donnelly, and just throw your hat over the wall.

 

You will have to go for ‘it’ – your hat.  I know I did.

Without realizing it, I threw my hat over the wall for Kevin, then for hepatitis C.

I had not intended to throw my hat.

Yet the inaccurate statements – plural – that were trying to become ‘truth’ forced me to ask questions.  Then I listened.  I listened a lot – as I promised Kevin, per Kevin’s repeated requests.  He asked over and over, “If you can, please listen.  If you can … If you can …”

Had the proper respect been given to my deceased brother and to my parents, I would not be standing here – now, in Washington D.C. at this international rally or speaking in his name – or giving his only eulogy.

I would not have had to throw my hat over the wall for Kevin and then for hep C.

I would have peacefully, graciously accepted the truth, and I would have moved on.

Yet my standing here tonight, 2 years and 9 months after his death, is proof that I had to go get a hat …

Kevin, you threw your hat high.

You threw it overhand, high into the air, and I salute you, Kevin.  I know Mom and Dad wish they could be here to honor you for all you shared, all of your accomplishments.

Yet, Kevin, I have to share that we, your family, still miss the boy, then young man, who went to all the Cub Scout meetings earning every badge, working to Eagle Scout.

We miss the Kevin who became a medic in the army, and excelled in all you did.

We miss the Kevin who laughed and shared many of your new challenges, your pole vaulting in our side-yard, all your sports, winter mountain climbing – the many challenges you tackled and won.

August 5th, 2000, the Saturday night we were told you died, when I spoke to Dad, recuperating from prostate cancer surgery, by phone, Dad said,

‘Well, now Kevin is at peace.  He’s at peace perhaps for the first time in a long time.’ …

I know you are helping others to toss their hats over the wall, Kevin.

 

I miss the brother who hugged me; the brother who stood by my side when I needed you.

I also miss the brother who helped me decide whether to stay with a boyfriend, or not.

He’d write a pro and con list with me.

Then Kevin would write at the end:  Put this where the sun don’t shine.

 

I miss the brother who laughed and shared with me, and I miss my youngest brother who in the end, died alone.

But you, Kevin, you did live the life you chose, helping others.

You, Kevin, did get to choose, and that last evening, August 4th, 2000, with no hat to toss, you went home.

Please help me rebuild his library and his research for hep C, for science and for veterans, the military.

That was the one request that was most important to Kevin.

Stunned, I have to share:  Sadly, all his predictions came true.

Some of us became stronger as a result of your requests, Kevin.

 

I know I learned how to lean into the wind, respectfully asking in your name, over and over, listening, listening.

Your predictions have already begun to reveal themselves as truth, and I share here tonight. …”  Saturday, May 23, 2003, Memorial Day Weekend, Washington D.C.

Why?  I gave him my Word.

“Judge success by what you had to give up to get it.”  Dalai Lama

 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent,

but the one most responsive to change.”  Charles Darwin

 

The common theme of this 12-year tribute and Captain Kevin’s eulogy, May 23, 2003, before I share Cassandra’s Curse below and additional facts?

 

Kevin’s predictions began prior to the night of his death, and continued through his funeral.

 

Kevin’s predictions included specific wording on funeral wreaths at his funeral and the (very) large floral bouquets at Dalton’s Funeral Home – more truth).  Fact.  “Beloved Father” — “Loving Husband” —

Yep.  Can’t Make This Up. 

From the same good people who told Kevin’s parents and myself that “it could have been a triple homicide and he was waiting for…”

And the bouquet that Kevin’s parents sent? 

I watched it brought into the small room. placed at the front – briefly. 

Then it was removed by a grieving family member and moved to the back of the room.

Yep.  Can’t Make This UP.

 Kevin’s predictions included actions of others and details of his burial, and unfolded so rapidly that it was breathtaking to watch.  Fact.

“That which opposes, produces a benefit.”  Heraclitus

 Thus, I documented.  Then, I shared with others who also had been given predictions by Captain Kevin prior to his death.

 Captain Kevin shared his predictions with others, asking each to document his predictions – and to then share the predictions with his sister.  Fact.

 

Tonight’s sharing is updating and detailing the 12-year predictions.

 

“The brain processes sequential information in a linear way.

Measure the risk, go over your notes and go upward.”  Steve Wynn

 

As I began to write this, my father (Kevin’s dad) was – was – in poor health with multiple serious health concerns – including the diagnosis of hepatitis C from a blood transfusion.

 Yes, Dad, Emmett, was – was – a veteran, too – diagnosed with Hepatitis C, too, until September 23, 2011.

 Last year as I wrote Kevin’s 11th year Tribute, I followed Dad to Intermediate-ICU, ICU, multiple hospitals, and multiple rooms.

 

I sat in bed with Dad; my back at the foot of his bed, leaning on a pillow.

I placed my feet by his elbows, and we would move all his IV lines (to include the bleeding lines).

 

Day after I day I sat with Dad, truly at the foot of his bed.  It is a bittersweet memory.

 

Intimate discussions ensued as I sat, read, and worked.

 

And I worked on this tribute as Dad worked to walk, received his multiple hyperbaric chamber, HBO, treatments – oh, he wanted to live.

 

In six months, in all the hospitals, in all the rooms, only two people came in the room, looked startled and asked, “WHO are you?”  Dad and I would giggle. 

I would respond, sincerely, “I am his third wife.”  “Oh,” was their reply.  Dad would laugh and laugh.  My reply was simply to hear Dad laugh.

 

Dad would then poker-face, “My wife of 58 years is going to be ‘very’ upset.”

 As I worked on the 11-year Tribute, Dad would say, “I still miss Kevin, and I can’t help but wonder if I should have done more.  I know I should have done more.  I should have.  No parent should ever have their child died.  None.  But ‘my’ child did.  My child, and I wasn’t able to help him.”

I would just hang my head, silent.

 

As Dad received his treatments, he always shared with hospital staff that he was HCV positive.

 

I did see the momentary pause on technicians and medical staff.

Dad also told “housekeeping” staff, to be careful picking up anything that had blood on it.

He was the medic, the teacher, the educator – always.

 

Dad and I would look to each other, not blinking.

 

Dad, the psych counselor, educator, teacher, avid-life enthusiast, would say, “You need to know this before you treat me.”

Then Dad would ask if they knew about hepatitis C.

 

Dad would, as an educator, counselor, with an air of confidence to quote, “let them feel at ease” – unquote, would begin to talk about the hep C virus.

 

And Dad would say, “My son had HCV, too.”

I barely moved during those conversations.

 

I did see that this advocacy for HCV, hep C, was a healing tool for Dad, Army veteran, diagnosed in 2004 with HCV after a 1983 blood transfusion.

 

When the hospital staff thanked Emmett, Mr. Donnelly to each, for helping them and teaching them, Dad would smile, “I knew nothing about this until my son was given the virus during army experimentation.  My son worked to help others.  I learned a lot from my youngest son, the son who died before he should have.  Now I teach others, so they may avoid what my family and I have lived through.”

 

Dad had such a reassuring manner.

People he was speaking to usually leaned over to touch his arm, to thank him.

Dad would smile, look to me, and we’d have that nonverbal communication we knew oh so well.  Fact.

 

Later, Dad would ask, “Do you think I helped them?  I wanted to.”

 

I always smiled and said, “Yes, Dad, you done great.  You did help that nurse (fill in the blank with proper title).  You were the teacher.”

 

Dad would move the multiple, large machines and IVs, and sit taller in his bed (I was still seated at the foot of his bed, facing Dad) – as he was nearing his descent to under 100 pounds, and Dad would say, “That makes my day here better, and I know Kevin would be proud, too.”

 

Our father was diagnosed with HCV, hepatitis C, a few years after Kevin’s death.  Fact.

 

“No matter what they say, they’ll see in time, I know.

When destiny calls you, you must be strong.  I may not be with you.

They’ll see in time, I know.

Just look over your shoulder.  I’ll be there … always.”  Phil Collins

 

Kevin’s diagnosis was two days before Christmas, 12/23/97, when the doctor, reading from a chart in his large office, seated behind a large desk, looked at the chart, glanced up to Kevin and said, “You have hepatitis C.  You’re not a candidate for a liver transplant, you have two years to live, and Merry Christmas.”  Fact.

 

“I am a boxer, and I’m going home.  I am leaving, but the fire still remains.

Lah, lah, lah, lah, lah, lie, lie, lah, lah, lah, lah.”  Simon and Garfunkel

 

As Kevin, a scientific researcher and avid sportsman, asked questions about HCV in 1998 and 1999, he began to apply techniques he learned in the military and also while Kevin studied with nobel laureate nominees.

 

Kevin was not a one-trick pony.  No.

 

He was a man with many talents, interests and many of his skills served Captain Kevin well when he learned he “would die from hep C” and Kevin learned there was little information about this illness in 1997.

 

In short, Kevin drew to the quick – quickly.

 

“I got a right to be lonely when you’re gone.  Well, it’s so easy to give advice when you ain’t the one who got to pay the price. Served with a letter sent to Whom It May Concern.

A lesson learned hard nearly got me down; I got a right to be wrong.”  Dickey Betts, Allman Brothers

 

As Captain Kevin researched accurate information and his personal medical records within the Army, funky things began to occur in his personal world.  Very odd events occurred.  Fact.

 

“We don’t need no education.  We don’t need no false control …

All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall.

If you don’t eat your meat, how can you have any pudding?”  Pink Floyd

 

I have documented multiple true events – the truth – in prior tributes.

Each may be found at www.captainkevindonnelly.com

 

“And each day I learn just a little bit more.  I don’t know why, but I do know what for.

If we’re all going somewhere, let’s get there soon.”  Elton John

 

Why?  I gave him my Word.

 

Kevin’s book “The Panama Story” was written one chapter each evening in 1998.

 

Captain Kevin wrote a fascinating story about the 1942 creation of the hep C virus and wove the facts into a fast-paced John Grisham-style novel, so veterans and individuals would want to read the truth and would enjoy reading his factual documentation.

 

“Oh my soul – be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.”  T.S. Eliot

 

Kevin’s story is available www.captainkevindonnelly.com

 

Multiple professional movie producers have approached me about making Kevin’s story into a movie.  Truth.

 

“It’s not over; it will never be over for you, soldier, soldier.

Do you remember the war?  It’s not over.  It’ll never be over for you.

It’s not over, till they stop playing war with you, soldier, soldier.”  Stephen Stills

 

Tonight I want to share the predictions that Kevin had me listen to and which he asked, “if you can, please share.”  Thus, I share.

 

“A wonderful harmony is created when we join together the seemingly unconnected.”  Heraclitus

 

I documented his predictions right after his death – all 100 % correct.

I documented his predictions for six months, one year, three years, five years, and seven years.

 

“No one said it would be easy.  No one said it’d be this hard.

No one said it would be easy.  No one thought we’d come this far.”  Sheryl Crow

 

Kevin had 5-year, 10-year, 12-year, 15, and 20-year predictions.

 

“And the playing stopped in the playground now … and soon we’ll be learning; the lesson today is how to die.

And then the bullhorn cackles, and the captain tackles with the problems and the how’s and the why … and you can see no reason.

What reason do you need to die, to die?” Tori Amos

 

Why?  I gave him my Word.

 

“Well, by and by, way after many years have gone, it’s up to you, brother, to try and try again.  So, hear us now.  We ain’t wasting no more.  Don’t forget the pouring rain.”  Allman Brothers

 

This tribute includes Cassandra and her truth.

 

Greek mythology shares the tale of Cassandra, a beautiful woman.

 

Apollo gifted Cassandra with the ability to see the future.

 

Cassandra’s curse began after she scorned Apollo’s affections.

 

The result?

 

Apollo cursed Cassandra’s ability to predict prophecies, so no one would ever believe her accurate predictions and her prophecies.

 

Cassandra’s Curse is a known reference in the study of history, mythology, and literature.

 

Cassandra’s Curse is an appropriate reference here with Kevin’s predictions.

 

In 1997, 1998, and 1999 and until his death 12 years ago tonight, Kevin’s predictions were not believed – though they have been accurate as time has passed and facts, individuals, and the virus have moved forward.

 

“I used to feel so free, but now my back’s against the wall.

Doctor, doctor, what’s going on?  Can you tell me what’s going on?”  Bizzy Bone

 

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.

Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”  George Bernard Shaw

 

Why?  I gave him my Word.

 

“Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying.

You know we’ve got to find a way. What’s going on?  What’s going on?”  Marvin Gaye

 

Kevin’s predictions were well documented prior to his death.  Fact.

 

I know that Captain Kevin would be proud of the progress and access to information now, and he would be downright angry at what remains to be accomplished or shared.

 

“If one throws salt at thee, thou wilt receive no harm unless thou hast sore places.” Latin proverb

 

Captain Kevin predicted in 2010 and 2012 that hepatitis C – the diagnosis – not necessarily the research or the funds and celebrities wearing ‘ribbons’ – Kevin predicted the words ‘hep C’ would begin to mainstream into television and movies.  True.

 

“Walk away from anger, walk away from pain, walk away from shame – walk away from sorrow, walk away from yesterday, walk away from tomorrow.”  Sting

 

Each time the words hep C are voiced (on TV and radio) and placed into print I have a momentary gasp, and I make a note that this is a step forward.

 

“There’s a law of the jungle, there’s a law of the land.

If you get caught in the middle, you try to make it the best you can.”  Bonnie Raitt

 

Within the past few years, the words hepatitis C and hep C have been used within multiple news stores, television shows, and below is only a sampling with references used with greater frequency.

 

SNL, Saturday Night Live, opening ceremony, season 36, episode 15, February 12, 2011, comments about hep C.

 

“The Pacific”, Part 8, HBO movie, May 2nd, 2010, mentions hep C with marines in WW II.

 

“You Don’t Know Jack,” HBO’s movie, April 2010, documents Jack Kevorkian having a conversation with his assistant Neal Nicol (portrayed by Al Pacino and John Goodman).

 

Neal Nicol, “35 years ago you came down to the basement lab and talked to all us med techs.  You were the only doctor in the whole hospital we didn’t think was a pompous son-of-a-bitch.

Jack Kevorkian, “Well, that was your first mistake.”

Neal Nicol, “And I let you stick needles in me and transfuse cadaver blood.”

Neal Nicol, “Shit, you weren’t the only one who got hepatitis, Jack.”

Jack Kevorkian, “Yeah, we had some good times.”

Neal Nicol, “Yeah, you had purpose, Jack …”

 

“Treme’s” episode 8, “All On A Mardi Gras,” HBO, June 6, 2010, also details a conversation about a character with hep C.

 

Parade Magazine, August 1, 2010, “Unwrapping Medical Mysteries” by Dr. Ranit Mishori, page 12.

 

“New technology is revealing medical clues buried for as long as 3,000 years …

Dr. Mark Spigelman of the Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

 

Author, Dr. Mishori, writing about unearthed mummified bodies after a construction boom, “Take, for instance, Hepatitis B, one cause of liver disease.  Spigelman’s team found it in the 500-year old mummified body of a South Korean boy.”

 

Why?  I gave him my Word.

 

“The time to hesitate is through, there’s no time to wallow in the mire.”  The Doors

 

Each casual mention, conversation or reference in a show, movie, or respected professional articles reflect that the words hep C is mainstreaming slowly –.

 

“Let me remember things I don’t know.”  Credance Clearwater Revival

 

Place the casual references together in just the span of the past three months – without attempting to Google the term, and this is an interesting observation.

And there have been many, many more references to hep C, casual references, on television and cable.  Fact.

 

“I used to feel so free, but now my back’s against the wall.

Doctor, doctor, what’s going on?  Can you tell me what’s going on?”  Bizzy Bone

 

The references are simply additional 10- and 12-year predictions of Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly.  Truth.

 

Kevin also predicted that interferon, a drug that was used to treat AIDS/HIV in 1980s, would become “mainstream common” with hep C treatment.

 

“Follow the money.”  Deep Throat, Watergate

 

When I took a 10-year old cat to the vet approximately seven years ago, the vet recommended interferon for my cat and shared proudly, “This drug, intereron, is successfully used to treat cats and dogs, though it is expensive.”  Fact.

 

“Rather than money … give me truth.”  Henry David Thoreau

 

I looked to my dad, standing at my elbow, who had gasped, and I said, “Dad, I’ll handle this.”

 

Then I shared about interferon within a few sentences.

 

The vet thanked me and stated that he “had no idea” interferon was used to treat people.”  Gaaah.

 

When my father (Captain Kevin’s father, too) was first diagnosed with hep C, the diplomat specialist M.D. gave Dad the HCV diagnosis on the phone (gasp), and then asked Dad to come in (driving forty miles, one way) “right away to get interferon shots.”

 

A 76-year old man was given results his initial HCV, hep C, diagnosis over the phone, 12/16/04 (almost 7 years to date of Kevin’s diagnosis, 12/23/97) and asked to start interferon immediately?  Excuse me?  By a “specialist with HCV patients and veterans” – Excuse me?  I think not.

 

“It could happen to you, just like it happened to me.

There is simply no immunity.  There’s no guarantee …”  Sting

 

I phoned individuals who worked with Kevin, individuals who shared Kevin helped them to become leaders in their area, their state and around the nation.

 

Each person was horrified and insisted that my father, at his mature age absolutely should not be treated with interferon due to severe side affects.

 

“I get on my knees and pray that we don’t get fooled again.

Meet the new boss, the name of the old boss.”  Bruce Springsteen

 

June 2010, my father was dealing with a life-threatening illness, one wherein he spoke to me “about planning my funeral.  I ‘have’ to be able to talk to someone about this, and that person is you, my only daughter, okay?”  My reply was a simple, “Yes, Dad.”

 

Though my father was in poor health with multiple issues, August 3, 2010, a doctor – self-described “specialist” – advised an 82-year old man “to immediately begin interferon” treatment.  Another gasp here.

 

“Press on.  Nothing can take the place of persistence.”

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the U.S.

 

When my father leaned on the oak desk while in the doctor’s office August 3, 2010, banged his right hand on the large doctor’s desk in the large office with diplomas on every wall, Dad assertively shared what he knew about his youngest son’s hep C illness, treatments and lack thereof.

 

Dad asked the specialist for results of 76-year and 82-year old men and treatments.

 

“Hmmm,” was the reply, “I will have to see if we have any.”  They did not.  Later I was told, “It is for good reason there are no results for 76-year old patients.”  Fact.

 

“Sometimes you’ve just gotta let it ride. The world is changing right before your eyes.”  Eagles

 

“No, I will not take the shots!” my mother told me later.  She was shocked at Dad’s behavior as was the good doctor.  Good.

 

I later learned from the doctor that he was “completely shocked that this very nice man did that.”

 

I smiled, silent, and replied, “This very nice man knows his youngest son died with hep C, gifted by military vaccination. We know more than the average family.  Hep C is the gift that continues to be gifted.  And I will share this verbatim conversation in my Tributes to my brother and his community.”

 

“Oh,” was the doctor’s official ending to our conversation as he turned and walked away.

 

While Dad was in all the hospitals February 28th 2011 until shortly before hospice, August 2011, I cannot tell you how many people spoke to Emmett and then to me about his decision not to take interferon.  Dad was 82.

 

I would inhale, holding my lips together as I gathered my thoughts.

It was clear my simple “No, thank you,” replies were not registering as “Hell, no.”

 

Dad dismissed each request, and oh, there were many, many requests.

 

Doctors and staff would say, “It would be covered by your insurance, Mr. Donnelly.”

 

Dad would inhale, focus, and reply, “I am over 80 years old.  I am dealing with serious issues here that may kill me, and I do not need interferon in my system right now.”

 

Still the requests continued from internists, GI docs and too many others.

 

When a few privately spoke to me in the hospital hallways, I would share just a tad about my brother, Captain Kevin, and my advocating and sharing.

 

Hospital employees pulled me aside to whisper that “— is a paid rep for the company your father and you are refusing to accept treatment from.”

 

My replies were always a simple, “Imagine that?

 

Other medical professionals privately spoke to me – all insisted their conversations “are off the record” – sharing who attended conferences for hep C treatments.  I listened and was respectful of their sharing.  I kept my opinions and facts to myself as the individuals believed the information they were privately sharing with me was “news.”  Sadly, no.  Fact.

 

When a few doctors were truly interested, I would share about Dr. Cecil and the hep C support groups (a few Kevin helped to organize in 1998).

 

I would share that I – we – knew quite a bit about interferon and declining treatment was a decision that was not going to be changed.

 

Then I would watch their far away glance and listen to more words.  Gah.

 

Some people in the medical field just didn’t get it.  That was very clear to me – and sadly, to Dad.  Fact.

 

One doctor, in a private conversation to me in the hallway (Intermediate ICU) outside Dad’s room, said, “I have read the studies of the hep C treatments.  Your father refuses to treat.  He refuses.  Have you read the Cecil Studies?”

 

I smiled, paused, and politely replied, “Sir, I have had the honor of meeting and dining with Dr. Ben Cecil.  My brother was working to put a prison forum online for Dr. Cecil with Phyllis Beck (Oregon) the night of Kevin’s death, August 4, 2000.”

 

The doctor, pushed his eyeglasses down his nose, leaned in to me and asked, “Who are you again?  You have met Dr. Cecil?”

Me, “Yes, sir.  He’s talented, wise, and has a grand sense of humor.”

 

This is why I continue to share Captain Kevin’s Truth and his legacy.

 

That doctor never asked Dad to ‘treat’ again.  Others did, but that one.

 

When I told Dad later, Dad giggled.  “Good,” Emmett replied.

 

Dad, “My son’s work will help others.  It will continue to help others.  Kevin’s work, and it seems, Kevin’s death, will help to educate others.  Just don’t mention this while your mother is around.  She will fall apart at the mere mention of Kevin’s name.  You know this.  And with her having been in ICU for nine days, LTAC (long-term acute care), and all the hospitals, she is just now starting to walk and to sit up again.  While I’m in the hospital here, promise me you won’t tell her about this.  Okay?  Now if I could just walk down the hall I know I’d feel much better.”

 

I understood the request, promised, and then Dad smiled.  Fact.

 

“If elephants could fly, I’d be a little more optimistic, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.”  Shania Twain

 

Others are now on this path as Kevin predicted.

Others will be given inaccurate information Captain Kevin predicted.

 

Kevin’s father was given hep C inaccurate information routinely as Dad laid in bed, working to live.  “I still have things I want to do.  I am not ready to die,” he insisted.

 

Privately, Dad and I would talk that if he, we, did not know what we did about the virus, the immune system, interferon and Dad’s age – Lord, we might have made a different decision placing my ‘faith’ in the medical team.

 

Thank you, Kevin, and to others who taught us that lesson – an 83-year old man who was dying and did die – continued to decline their requests for interferon treatment.

 

Privately, I would watch Dad when these discussions occurred.  After a period of time, he actually used some of his Irish anger and targeted that energy, anger, out to the people who continued to ask.

 

I sat, listening, listening, oh, so proud of Dad as he hammered a few of the professionals — after so many of his requests were declined, and yet they asked.

 

Dad pointed his small finger at several saying, “My son taught me – my son.  I know.  I know …”

 

Dad did mention the ‘money trail’ to a few interferon requestors.

 

I beamed with pride.

 

Choices.  Choices.  Education.  Advocacy.  Knowledge.

Then one has the benefits of true choices, not the standard “here’s what we think you need for your hep C …”

 

A few times the discussion was broached when his wife (my mom) and I were in the room.

 

I swear the three of us would just laugh.

 

The most serious of subjects, a topic where Mom still is unable to say Kevin’s name without crying –  this one repeated request just cracked us up it was discussed so often with Emmett J. Donnelly, Master of Education, veteran, medic, father to Captain Kevin.

 

Veterans will continue to receive military vaccinations Kevin predicted.

 

Prisoners will continue to spread HCV through lack of sanitary conditions, lack of accurate diagnosis and will spread hep C back into society as prisons release individuals – especially overcrowded areas with parole and early release.

 

“Why?  I gave him my Word.”

 

Individuals in rest homes will continue to acquire hep C Kevin predicted.  They are.

 

Hospitals and clinics that do not properly sterilize needles will continue to spread the disease.  They have.

 

Have you read the news reports about hospitals that have cross-contaminated with equipment and infected blood as recently as 2012?  They have.

 

Individuals receiving manicures and receiving tattoos are at risk, too, as Kevin predicted, if instruments are not properly sterilized.

 

“Open up the window, let some air into this room. I’ve seen so many things I ain’t never seen before. Mama told me not to come. She said, Son, that ain’t the way to have fun.” Three Dog Night

 

Captain Kevin predicted that people will continue to be ashamed of a disease, hep C, that continues to be labeled a “drug user’s dragon disease.”

 

Another prediction of Kevin:  the dragon disease label will have to go away as the disease mainstreams with a population that did not “do any drugs.”

 

Prior to Dad’s recent death, I would write within Kevin’s Tributes and postings: “Just ask my father, also a veteran, Captain Kevin’s father about the possibility of being labeled with ‘having used’ drugs.  And Dad now has hep C.”

 

Now that Dad died, I still think of him in the present tense before I correct myself.

 

Now I write, “Dad, a veteran, was not one who ‘used drugs’ during his lifetime.  Yet he acquired the virus through 1983 hospital transfusion.”  Fact.

 

Emmett J. Donnelly’s death certificate does not include cancer, HCV, and other illnesses that resulted.  His death certificate lists one word as cause of death:  “Dability”

 

I was stunned that one word would define how this man would be “numbered” – a term taught to me by my brother.

 

Prior to Kevin’s diagnosis with hep C, HCV, I would not have known the importance.

 

After his diagnosis, Kevin often wrote and spoke about how the cause of death leads to advocacy, education and also – to the big one – to funding.

 

When the cause of death is hep C related and does not include HCV the number is not included for calculations.

 

My family has had two people diagnosed with hep C.

Two people died with hep C.

Two death certificates, two hep C viruses, in my family – neither one lists hep C.  Fact.

 

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly was buried August 9, 2000, in Calverton’s National Cemetery.

Sergeant Emmett J. Donnelly is newly buried in Ft. Sam Houston’s military cemetery.

 

Facts reveal that millions of adults, teens and children now diagnosed with HCV did not contract hep C with drug use.

 

I refuse to go to the corner with my head down.  I will not.

 

“I don’t care what they say any more, this is my life.  Go ahead with your own life …

I never said I was a victim of circumstances.  I still belong …”  Billy Joel

 

As facts unraveled prior to Kevin’s death – to include the actions of individuals within his residence prior to Kevin’s death August 5, 2000, and right up to the time of his death the evening of August 4th, actions and words were pretty darn cold and factually, brutally inaccurate.  Facts.

 

“Come on people now, smile on your brother.

Everybody get together, try to love one another right now.

If you hear the song I sing, you will understand.

You hold the key to love and fear all in your trembling hand.”  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

 

Nor was Kevin’s research, address book or computer (the hep C community offered to purchase Kevin’s research, address book or computer with their funds.  Many persons repeatedly phoned Kevin’s residence and spoke to Tina (Justine) Velocci Lomonte Donnelly and to Michelle Lomonte) returned to the vet community (which offered to purchase Kevin’s information with their funds).  Facts.

 

Kevin’s five cats were taken to the shelter, as predicted by Kevin, by Kevin’s widow immediately after his burial.

 

Why?  I gave him my Word.

 

The cats were returned back to the 742 Hancock Place, Lindenhurst, NY 11757, residence August 14th, 2000, by Kevin’s grieving widow because the Bideawee Shelter is closed on Mondays.

 

“Take this message to my brothers, you will find him everywhere.  Where people live together …

I ain’t blind, but I don’t like what I think I see … You telling me things you’re going to do for me … We’re taking it to the streets.”  The Doobie Brothers

After Captain Kevin’s death, multiple boxes with files were removed from Kevin’s office.

After Kevin’s death, his German beer stein collection – (he bought beer steins, velvet wall hangings, wood carvings, and art Kevin ‘appreciated’ while Kevin was stationed in Germany and throughout his European travels as a teen, serving as a medic in the Army)  – The stein collection and contents from his office was first opened and offered to teens, friends of the stepdaughters who removed items that were Kevin’s.

After Kevin’s death, the items that were not removed from Kevin’s office were placed on the front lawn.  Fact.

Neighbors told me that they watched “kids and adults” pick through Kevin’s art work, art that he drew, crafts Kevin made, and numerous objects he had kept with him since childhood.

Multiple events occurred that stunned strangers and people who worked with Captain Kevin – And Kevin’s parents did not receive the two items (sentimental value only) they requested – two items.  Truth.  Fact.

 

It is the veterans who thanked me and continue to thank me.

It is the veterans, men, who have cried on my shoulder, leaving wet spots on my blouse, not ashamed at all, wiping crocodile tears from their eyes with their forearms.

“Heaven holds a place for those who pray, hey, hey, hey.

We’d like to know a little about you for our files. Look around you, and all you see are sympathetic eyes. Hiding in a hiding place where no one ever goes, it’s just a little secret.”  Simon and Garfunkel

Prior to Kevin’s death, I wrote this letter, September 7, 1999, to Texas Senator Phil Gramm and faxed it to 214-767-8754 and 210-366-2016, ATT: Shannon:

Senator Gramm:   I phoned your San Antonio office September 3, 1999 (210.366.9494) and had the pleasure of speaking with your professional assistant, Shannon.

 

She promptly researched my request, phoned your D.C. office and asked me to fax this letter to your attention.  She said that you “would be delighted to look into” my plea for help.

 

My youngest brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, currently is in the Army Reserves.

 

He enlisted at 17 years of age in November 1975.

Captain Kevin’s “basic training” was in Fort Dix; his medical training was within Fort Sam Houston.

 

Kevin’s unit was the 651st Medical Company … a ‘91B’ spec number, a Specialist Four while in that unit.

 

Kevin spent three years in Germany before returning to the U.S.

 

Kevin Donnelly has been actively involved with the U.S. military from 1975 to the present, September 1999.

 

Kevin was with the 651st Medical Company (an ambulance company), Coffey Barracks, Ludwigsburg.

 

The 651st Medical Company was a subunit of the 30th Medical Group, a subunit of 7th Medcom;

who now, along with the other two commands, were downsized. None of these units are active now.

 

The 7th Medcom falls under USAREUR, the highest command in Europe for American forces.

 

Captain Donnelly received numerous awards, certificates, ribbons and pins while on active duty and the reserves.

I, a layperson, do not understand all his achievements.

But I know the Army has bestowed their recognition for his excellence on many occasions.

 

Kevin was treated for “non-Hep” 24 January 1978 to 2 February 1978, 5th General Hospital, Germany, 651st Med Co. (AmB).

 

December 23, 1997, my brother was diagnosed with hepatitis C and given a terminal prognosis.

 

Through research, Kevin learned that the hep C resulted from a hep B shot that he – and his troop – received while Kevin was stationed in Germany.

 

To date (9/7/1999), most of that troop, 651st Medical Company, is dead and/or dying, as is my 40-year old brother.

 

Kevin Drue Donnelly is currently leading the international research on hep C.

 

After his diagnosis Kevin utilized skills acquired in the military, adding analytical and scientific knowledge that he learned through continued education to write his book “The Panama Story.”

 

His decision “to not sell his book” – (his words) –

 

“to avoid making money from the blood of veterans and others”

 

– that decision immediately changed his days and his nights within the 742 Hancock Place, Lindenhurst, NY 11757 residence.

 

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly published the book, The Panama Story, free on the Internet to help others, not to profit.

 

Initially, the book started out as a short story. Kevin e-mailed his ‘short story’ to a few friends, veterans (approximately five people), and to me.

 

Friends and veterans asked if they could photocopy Kevin’s short story and place it in their military offices, their doctor’s offices, and their homes.

 

Kevin, of course, wanted to share his information.

 

When many, many requests ensued for more information, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly expanded his writing on “The Panama Story.”

 

He placed his book free on the Internet as he wrote one chapter each night early 1998.

 

Kevin posted the story, free to all, to share knowledge and to help educate

veterans, families and the medical profession, which he continues to help.

 

Kevin helped to create the first support groups throughout the U.S.A. and the world for hep C-related issues for veterans, families, patients, and victims.

 

Currently, the mother of Purple Heart Recipients, decorated veterans and soldiers, contact my brother each day for advice.

 

Medical researchers and government officials also phone and e-mail Kevin at his residence.

 

Captain Kevin continues to compile his research from medical universities, the CDC, Center for Disease Controls, nobel laureate researchers, and many others.

 

He comforts many and shares his information freely.

 

Captain Kevin has written articles for Journal of American Medical Association, JAMA; Canadian Medical Associations; Nursing Associations; and multiple professional publications.

 

Kevin Drue Donnelly has also been interviewed and profiled in “Newsday” and also the “U.S. News & World Report” June 22, 1998 edition, with two color photos, for Kevin’s work and his research with veterans and hep C.

 

One caption within the “U.S. News & World Report” article has print under Kevin’s half-page picture that reads:

 

“VETS. Kevin Donnelly, an Army Reserve Captain with hep C, says the military is delaying and denying help for the disproportionate number of veterans who contracted the virus while in the service.”

 

Captain Kevin shares how veterans may apply for medical information, pension benefits; how individuals may receive information to best help each person and each family.

 

And he compiled lists of information for patients too ill to get out of bed.

 

This information Kevin freely shares with mothers, wives, and soldiers.

 

After his HCV diagnosis, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, was honored by the Lindenhurst, New York, high school where he coached sports, all pro bono, for the multiple years that Kevin freely gave of his time, teaching, coaching and enthusiasm, which he shared with children, teens, their parents and instructors.

 

Kevin used to attend parent-teacher nights for teens living with parents who were unable – or were unwilling to attend school functions.

 

Kevin would ask hard questions with teachers and students.  Then he counseled the teens.

 

Sadly, Kevin was too ill to attend the Lindenhurst award ceremony in Captain Kevin’s honor to accept the awards to honor Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly.

 

My brother phoned me and shared that his feet were so swollen he could not place shoes on his feet.

 

That night, Kevin’s hands and feet were swollen, and he was typing with a pencil in each hand continuing to help others and to research.

My heart ached for my brother.

 

Kevin Donnelly is focused on “helping others now and this time NO one gets left back!”  (He is using this phrase often as his health continues to fail him and he works alone in his residence.)

 

Additionally, he continues to assist teens with monetary assistance to attend college and works with teens to join ROTC.

 

Kevin routinely mails packages to West Point with personal handwritten notes to give the packages to soldiers with families who did not contact the cadets.

 

Kevin has heard from many West Point cadets who received his ‘care’ packages.  He has.

 

Kevin’s illness has greatly impacted his family and neighbors (where he financed and purchased a basketball court for children to play on the Hancock Place cul-de-sac near his driveway, away from traffic – after hearing car tires screech one night as children played in the street.  The driver cussed the kids for playing in the street).

 

Kevin’s illness has affected the high school sports teams, the Lindenhurst high school and their students as I am repeatedly told.

 

Captain Kevin used to design and craft handmade pins for different sports to gift to the kids and teens after a sporting event, after academic accomplishments, and often “for striving to achieve the goal.”

 

Each handmade pin has been proudly worn by the teen recipients.  (I understand now that they are coveted pins.  Kevin gifted me with several pins.  One of my favorites is a pin with a woman wearing a blue outfit, red cape and small red shoes.

 

Since his diagnosis, Kevin’s health continues to decline.

 

My reason for contacting your office last Friday, Senator Phil Gramm, is to fulfill a last request of my brother:

 

Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly, Lindenhurst, NY, would like to be buried in Arlington Cemetery.

 

My husband and I flew last week, September 1999, to say “good-bye” to Kevin.

As we were leaving, I asked Kevin where he wants to be buried.

 

Kevin quickly stood proud, very tall in military pose, and quickly saluted.

Then he placed his hand over his heart.

 

Without hesitation, Kevin enthusiastically said, “Arlington!”

Startled, I asked, “Why?”

 

Again, without hesitation, Kevin said, “Because that’s where our heroes are buried – at Arlington.  I want to be buried with vets.”

 

Our mother’s grandfather was a Civil War POW, captured and imprisoned twice with the 7th Texas Infantry.

Underage, he enlisted for the Civil War as a flutist, which is listed on official documents.

Adolphus Floyd was first captured during the winter of 1862, and taken to Fort Donelson, Tennessee.

He was released from his first imprisonment during a prisoner exchange in the summer of 1863.

Our great-grandfather was recaptured and taken to another POW camp before being released to fight in Chickamauga, Tennessee.

After his second POW release, the Civil War soldiers were all told “to go home,” and the soldier, Adolphus Floyd, walked home to Texas, close to death.

One uncle, our mother’s twin, enlisted, served in WW II with the Marines who landed in Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Saipan, and additional islands, before he was shot multiple times, on ship, and returned to the states.

 

We are also descendants of an Alamo fighter, Dolphin Ward Floyd, who died within the walls.

We were always taken to the Alamo to view the plaque honoring our relative within the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas.

 

Kevin and I were raised by two parents, each teachers, who instilled the history of our families each night at the dinner table (promptly at 5:30).

 

Each night we learned history and were told, “You come from strong stock, strong roots.  Always remember this.  Always.”

 

We have visited, camping in 48 states and Canadian provinces.

We have tracked many, many battlefields tracing the history of our family ancestors and learning history and fact (per my parents, each teachers).

 

And my brother is so proud to continue to serve his country.

 

As a direct member of Kevin’s family, I am forwarding written permission to access Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly’s military records to ensure that the young man –

 

– who has helped thousands and thousands of people on the Internet, and the phone,

 

– who has assisted and counseled hundreds of children in his town, Lindenhurst,

 

– and who has assisted the mothers and wives who have buried their sons and husbands.

 

I acknowledge there are hearts and souls that I, Kevin’s Sister, will never know how they were touched by Kevin’s compassion, his scientific research, and his personal contacts.

 

I truly believe Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly deserves to be buried among heroes and with vets, per his final wishes; don’t you, sir?

 

Thank you for your interest,

Monette Benoit

Kevin’s Sister, September 7, 1999″

 

And the reply from Senator Gramm’s office 1999 to 2010, though I phoned again and faxed the letter three times?  Not one word. None.  The truth.  Fact.

Twelve years tonight my brother died – alone.

 

I will continue this conversation.

This is my brother’s dying wish.

 

“Why?  I gave him my Word.”

 

“Open your eyes and forget the day, and you’ll see things in a different way.

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.  It will soon be here.

It will be here better than before.  Yesterday’s gone.  Yesterday’s gone.”  Fleetwood Mac

 

This conversation has already prevented others from receiving and accessing inaccurate information about hepatitis C.

 

“Look over yonder and what do you see?  Love, love is the answer, and that’s all right.

So don’t you give up now – so easy to find.  Just look to your soul and open your mind.”  Tommy James and The Shondells

 

This conversation has assisted mothers who take care of their sons, their soldiers, when no one else will help them, after their disease advances.

 

This conversation has already assisted young teens and young adults who thank me for sharing, stating they cannot find this information.

 

This conversation has assisted children who are living with the stigma of having a veteran, a parent, a family member or their own diagnosis.

 

This conversation has to continue.  It must.  It will.  The truth.

 

“One thing I got to tell you is that you got to be free; come together right now over me.

Hold you in his arms, yeah, you can feel his disease.

Come together right now over me.”  The Beatles

 

Just as a mother teaches their child to look both ways before they cross the road,

So too must we continue this conversation.

 

Learn, listen and share.

 

Educate, advocate and prevent intolerance.

These are some of the predictions Captain Kevin knew would be a long time coming.

 

He knew. Yes, my brother Kevin truly knew The Truth – Captain Kevin’s Truth …

 

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

To Be Continued … Why?  I gave him my Word.

 

Kevin’s Sister

Monette Benoit

Monette@ARTCS.com

www.CaptainKevinDonnelly.com

“Why?  I gave him my Word”  One Salute At A Time

 

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