Honoring the veterans of Vietnam

Unlike their Greatest Generation predecessors, many Vietnam veterans returned home from war to both an unappreciative and hostile country. In previous wars, victory parades and jubilant celebrations marked the end of the conflict and celebrated our veterans return. However, during Vietnam anti-war sentiment caused many veterans to return to a country ungrateful for their dedicated military service and self-sacrifice. It is now time to acknowledge and right this long overdue wrong.

As today, in the 1960s we were a divided nation -- you were either for the war “My country right or wrong,” or against it “Hell no, we won’t go!” There was no middle ground. Protestors took to the streets often spewing hate and inflicting physical violence on those serving our nation. The war in Vietnam became both a lightning rod and quagmire, and unfortunately our service men and women bore the full brunt of the nation’s frustration.

In Vietnam they endured both constant physical and mental danger in a faraway war only to come home to face a similar assault not by the enemy but by the American public. It was not only the hateful rhetoric that was directed at them but also the physical rejection as many were ostracized and treated by their peers like outsiders in their own country.  Many returned not as heroes but rather as strangers in a strange land. This often led to a deepening of the psychological scars of war we know today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Fifty years later, contrary to popular misconception, we have a resilient and vibrant veteran population formed in the crucible of war. Many Vietnam veterans have utilized their leadership skills and commitment to service as leaders in our local communities.  In addition, they served as the genesis for many contemporary physical and mental health programs that have been developed to assist veterans from subsequent conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan. They too are integrating back into civilian life while coping with external and internal battle scars.  

Mental health remains a leading issue for all veterans. For many veterans, the sound and fury of battle haunt them both day and night. We still have too many homeless vets, too many broken families as well too many veterans taking their own lives. As a nation we need to ensure all of our veterans get the proper care and service they have rightfully earned.  Many have pushed through to the other side of their personal darkness overcoming insurmountable burdens, but unfortunately others remain held hostage to a conflict that has held them captive for more than fifty years.

As we approach Veteran’s Day, we should honor all but especially the overlooked veterans of Vietnam. They fought in a war that was not popular and returned to a country where many of them were shunned because of their faithful and honorable service. Rest assured that you are not forgotten -- you will always have a place of honor in American history.

Image: PxHere

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com