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
“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.
Emmett “really” wanted to live. He died in a manner that I would not wish upon any person.
Dad did not “want to go,” his words – especially while his wife was still very ill – a wife he was unable to see due to their illnesses.
To me, while I shuttled between two ill parents, Dad always said,”I have to stay to take care of her … but if anything happens to me you ‘need’ to … You promise, right? Right?” (Until I replied -only daughter, “Yes, Dad. I promise,” he asked over and over. He’d nod, head down, voice a whisper, “Good. That’s what is needed. Now, let’s …” Then he asked the next day – always adding: “But I’m not going …”
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.
(This after 40 radiation treatments where he drove himself, alone, to each ‘treatment’ – “No one has ‘done this alone’ they tell me. So, I will.” Mom would whisper, “He’s always so sick, but he won’t let me go with him!”
When Dad finished the 40 treatments, alone 100% — and pointed to his silver pickup truck when nurses ask if he ‘really’ alone, Dad shared, “They gave me a certificate.”
I threw my head back, laughed, “DAD, they gave you an invoice.” He shrugged, hugged me. “Mox nix. Let’s go get something to eat. I need to gain weight, they say. Busy. Busy. Busy. That’s me.”)
The newspaper printed a Father’s Day Tribute to Emmett J. Donnelly, June 2012.
I have included a link here for Tribute: https://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?
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 when 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 ask 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, 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.
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,
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.
“Why? I gave him my Word” One Salute At A Time