Posted August 5, 2010 – Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly
The 10th Year Tribute, “The Truth Continues”
August 5, 2010
By Monette Benoit, Kevin=s Sister
“Who, What, When, Where, How, Why, Captain Kevin’s Truth, Part Three”
Ten years ago tonight, August 4th, 2000, my youngest brother, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly departed this world. Kevin left a wide path into 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/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.
I listened. I listened. I asked questions.
I listened long; so long that individuals would ask if I was still on the phone because I was quiet for long stretches of time.
Each time, in person, and on the phone, I would reply, “I’m here. I’m listening as Kevin asked.”
“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, after Kevin’s death, in 2000, I asked additional questions when Kevin’s widow, Justine M. (nee) Velocci Lomonte Donnelly, a nurse and veteran, and three stepchildren (now adults) and others shared inaccurate information and 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, had he been waked with respect, or had his parents been treated with respect.
“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 10th year tribute is not about what others did right before Kevin’s death,
or what happened immediately after his death,
though I did initiate and finalize all preparations to have the American flag placed on his casket in Dalton Funeral Home (documented) when Kevin’s grieving widow did not request the American flag for Captain Kevin Donnelly.
The night of Kevin’s death, prior to his death, Captain Kevin placed his army uniform, dress blues with captain rank, on a hanger over the door, near the kitchen.
And how was that detail missed to not have the American flag on his casket or to have an incorrect tombstone with inaccurate military rank, second lieutenant, placed on Captain Kevin Donnelly’s grave?
“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
I was able to have the American flag placed on Kevin’s casket under one condition, per the Dalton’s Funeral Home employee.
The condition from Kevin’s widow, Justine M. (nee) Velocci Lomonte Donnelly, his second wife of seven years?
No obituary for Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly could be placed in the newspaper in return for the flag on Kevin’s casket.
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
Additionally, I did get a second tombstone placed on his grave – at tax payer’s expense (after his widow, Army reserves soldier, filled out Captain’s Kevin’s rank on all paperwork for the funeral home and Calverton military cemetery as second lieutenant).
The paperwork denying Captain Kevin his rank of ‘major’ in the military arrived the day of Kevin’s wake, Tuesday, August 9, 2000. Ironic, eh?
Kevin’s widow shared this ‘major’ detail, then pointed to the official envelope in her purse.
I cannot make this up. The Truth.
“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.
“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 spoke about truth during the May 24, 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 the only eulogy – 2 years and 9 months after his death, on May 23, 2003, Memorial Day Weekend, Washington D.C.
The Truth. Yes, truth. The event was 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. The Irish were proud people, like 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.
He was willing to go over the wall for what he believed in and for the issues that he was proud to represent, his values, and the values of Kevin’s country.
Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly 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 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 he died, he died alone.
I now remind each of 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, 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.
Had the proper respect been given my brother and 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 that went to all the Cub Scout meetings earning every badge, working to Eagle Scout.
We miss the Kevin that became a medic in the army, and excelled in all you did.
We miss the Kevin that laughed and shared many of your new challenges, your pole vaulting in the 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, Kevin, when I spoke to Dad (recuperating from cancer surgery) by phone, our 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.
Kevin would write a pro and con list with me.
Then, he 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 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, science, research, and for the soldiers, their families who also serve in 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 learned how to lean into the wind, respectfully, asking in your name, over and over.
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.
“Judge success by what you had to give up to get it.” Dalai Lama
Why? I gave him my Word.
“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 10-year tribute and Captain Kevin’s eulogy before I share about Cassandra’s Curse below and additional facts?
Kevin’s predictions began prior to the night of his death, through to his funeral (to include wording on funeral wreaths and sizes of floral bouquets – more truth), his burial, and unfolded so rapidly that it was breathtaking to watch. Breathtaking to witness, yet I had promised I would, if I could, per Kevin. And I did.
“That which opposes, produces a benefit.” Heraclitus
Thus, I documented.
Then, I shared with others who also had been given predictions by Kevin prior to his death. Predictions.
Tonight’s sharing is updating and detailing the 10-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 write this, my father (Kevin’s dad) is in poor health with multiple serious health concerns – hepatitis C being one – from a blood transfusion. Yes, he’s a veteran, too.
Our father was diagnosed a few years after Kevin’s death. And I can confirm that my father never shot drugs… another common ‘cause’ related to HCV.
“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 seated behind a large desk in a fancy office with wood paneling, per Kevin, told him, “You’re not a candidate for a liver transplant, and you have two years to live.”
“I’m 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 and1999, he began to apply techniques he learned in the military and also from studying with Nobel laureate nominees.
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 medical records within the army, funky things started to occur in his personal world.
“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 – 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.
He wrote a fascinating story about the creation of the hep C virus in 1942 and wove the facts into a fast-paced John Grisham-style novel, so veterans and individuals would want to read the truth.
“Oh my soul – be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.” T.S. Eliot
Multiple professional movie producers have approached me about making Kevin’s story into a movie. The 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.”
“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 ten-year predictions. He also shared predictions leading up to 20 years and beyond.
If I were a betting woman, I would bet the predictions ‘to come’, per Kevin, will be as accurate as the dang ones that began before his death and continue – now, 10 years.
“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
Greek mythology shares the tale of Cassandra, a beautiful woman.
Apollo gifted Cassandra with the ability to see the future.
Cassandra’s curse began when 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 ten years ago tonight, Kevin’s predictions were not believed – though they have been far too accurate as time has passed and facts, individuals and the virus have moved forward.
“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.
I know that Kevin would be proud of the progress and access to hepatitis research and veteran-related information, 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 that hepatitis C – the word – not necessarily the research or the funds and celebrities wearing ‘ribbons’ – he predicted the word ‘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 used I have a momentary gasp and 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 three months, the words hepatitis C and/or hep C have been used.
“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 Pacific”, Part 8, May 2nd, 2010, mentions the disease with U.S. marines in WW II, HBO movie.
“You Don’t Know Jack” Jack Kevorkian has a conversation with his assistant Neal Nicol (near the 1 hour and 47 minutes mark with Al Pacino and John Goodman), April 2010, HBO movie
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,” June 6, 2010, HBO movie.
Woman, “No, baby. Hep C …” as the character declines an offer, conversing with a male, 48-50 minutes into show.
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 that is isolated is part of a movie – all true – or part of respected professional articles.
“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 or ‘go hunting’ for the reference, and this is an interesting observation. Yet, another 10-year prediction of Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly. Truth.
“After the rain has fallen, after the tears have washed in your eye,
after the dream has been broken, there can still be love in the world.” Sting
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 four years ago, the vet recommended interferon for my cat and shared proudly, “This drug is successfully used to treat cats and dogs, though it is expensive.”
“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 on an emergency visit to the “on-call” veterinary doctor that weekend, I shared interferon details and facts within a few sentences – after he introduced the “pricey” treatment for my cat.
The vet thanked me and stated that he, doctor, “had no idea” interferon was used to treat people.” Gaaah.
When my father was first diagnosed with hep C, the diplomat specialist M.D. gave Dad the diagnosis on the phone (gasp), and then asked him to come in immediately to get interferon shots.
This time it was Mom who “stood up” from what we had learned from Kevin. No interferon to a man in his late 70s. No!!!
“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 my father, at his mature age 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
Now, 2010, that my father is in poor health with multiple issues, just yesterday, August 3, 2010, a doctor – self-described “specialist” – advised a man who is over 80 “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.
This time, my father leaned on the doctor’s desk while in the doctor’s office yesterday, and assertively shared what he knew about his son’s illness, treatments, and lack thereof.
“Sometimes you’ve just gotta let it ride. The world is changing right before your eyes.” Eagles
“No,” my dad will not take shots! Not in 2010 with continuing advancing cancer.
— Soon, a doctor approached me in the hospital hallway, motioned to speak to me, looked both ways.
The specialist (swear) whispered to me, “The doctor who recommended that your father begin interferon receives money from the drug company each time he sends a referral.”
My diplomatic reply to doctor looking both ways, leaning against a wall and whispering to me? “Get out.”
Succinctly, I gave this specialist a brief update on Kevin’s work, death, and yes, I was well aware that doctors receive money for each referral.
The good doctor in the hallway listened, held his files in his arm – balanced on his right hip and said, “Just remember what I told you. No one speaks about it here, but everyone knows. And he sends a lot of people to get interferon. I have to run.”
This is why I continue to share Captain Kevin’s Truth and his legacy.
“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 on this path as Kevin predicted.
Others will be given inaccurate information as Kevin predicted.
Veterans will continue to receive military vaccinations as Kevin predicted.
Prisoners will continue to spread the disease through lack of sanitary conditions, lack of proper diagnosis and will spread the disease 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 as Kevin predicted. They are.
Hospitals and clinics that do not properly sterilize needles will spread the disease. 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
People will continue to be ashamed of a disease, hep C, that continues to be labeled a “drug user’s dragon disease.”
Facts reveal the millions of adults, teens and children now diagnosed with HCV did not contract hep C with drug use. Just. Like. Our dad did not.
I refuse to go to the corner 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 and right up to the time of his death, actions and words were pretty darn cold and factually, brutally inaccurate – inaccurate.
“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 (which the hep C community offered to purchase with their funds as they phoned Kevin’s residence and spoke to Tina (nee) Velocci Lomonte Donnelly and Michelle Lomonte) returned to the vet community (hep C community offered to purchase Kevin’s information with their funds). More Truth.
Kevin’s five cats were taken to the shelter, as predicted, 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, 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, boxes of files were removed from Kevin’s office by men wearing gray suits.
Multiple events occurred that stunned strangers and people who worked with Kevin – and Kevin’s parents who did not receive the few items (sentimental value only) that they requested – few items. Truth.
It is the veterans, men, 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:
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, 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 at Fort Sam Houston.
His 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.
They were 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).
In December 1997, my brother was diagnosed with hepatitis C and given a short terminal prognosis.
Through research, he learned that the hep C resulted from a hep B shot that he – and his troop – received while stationed in Germany.
To date (9/7/1999), most of that troop 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.
Initially, the book started out as a short story. Kevin e-mailed his ‘short story’ to a few friends, vets (and to me), approximately four or five people.
The friends and vets asked if they could copy Kevin’s short story and place it in their military offices, doctor’s offices, and homes.
Kevin, of course, wanted to share his information.
When many, many requests ensued requesting more information, Captain Kevin Drue Donnelly expanded his writing on “The Panama Story.”
He wrote one chapter each night, early 1998.
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.
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 JAMA, Canadian Medical Associations, Nursing Associations, and multiple professional publications.
Kevin 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 he 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 he shared with children and teens.
Kevin used to attend parent-teacher nights for teens living with parents unable – or 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. He phoned me and shared that his feet were so swollen he could not place shoes on his feet. His hands were swollen and he was typing with a pencil in each hand. My heart ached for my brother.
He was 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 notes to give the packages to soldiers with families who did not contact the cadets.
And Kevin has heard from the West Point cadets who received his ‘care’ packages.
Kevin’s illness has greatly impacted his family and neighbors (where he financed and purchased a basketball court for children to play on his cul-de-sac near his driveway, away from traffic – after hearing car tires screech one night as children played in the street. The driver of the car cussed the kids for playing in the street).
Kevin’s illness has affected the high school sports teams, the Lindenhurst high school and ‘kids’ as I am repeatedly told.
And he used to 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 one – a pin with a woman wearing a blue outfit with a 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 joined 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.
He was recaptured and taken to another POW camp before being released to fight in Chickamauga, Tennessee.
There the Civil War POW soldiers were all told “to go home,” and the soldier, Adolphus Floyd, walked home to Texas, close to death.
One uncle, enlisted underage with the Marines, served in WW II – landed and fought in Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinowa, additional islands, before he was wounded with multiple shots on ship, returned to the States.
We are also descendants of an Alamo fighter with a plaque honoring Dolphin Ward Floyd within the Alamo. He answered Travis’ call for help and was one of the Gonzales 32 (Immortal 32) who entered after the battle began. The goal was to hold the fort, Alamo, until Sam Houston arrived. He died on his 32nd birthday in the Alamo; he left a 4-year old son and a wife, 9-months pregnant. He died without knowing a daughter was born…
Kevin and I were raised by two parents, each a teacher, who instilled the history of our families “you come from strong stock, strong roots.”
We have visited many, many battlefields tracing the history of our ancestors and learning history and fact (per my parents, the teachers).
And my brother is so proud to continue to serve his country.
As a direct member of his 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 of people who have buried their sons and husbands.
I acknowledge there are hearts and souls 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, mailed, and faxed the letter three times? Not one word. Nope. None. The truth.
Ten years tonight my brother died – alone. I will continue this conversation. This is my brother’s 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, 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, 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.
Yes, my brother Kevin truly knew The Truth – Captain Kevin’s Truth …
“In the end, we will remembered not by the words of our enemies, but by the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
To Be Continued …
“Why? I gave him my Word”
One Salute At A Time