Hoosier Army Mom’s Weblog

Conservative Views

Cutting your teeth in battle – then getting them kicked out at home.

The Wall

Not to long ago, my son asked me a question. It got me thinking about every conversation I ever had with a Viet Nam Veteran over the years, in as much detail as I could remember. He wanted to know why so many of the Viet Nam era vets were so angry and frustrated, so son, I am dedicating this post to you.

My first experience with a Nam vet was my former brother-in-law, and the father of my nieces. He never spoke of any of his experiences, but I instinctively knew they were difficult, as his emotional lockdown in life truly bore the evidence. He mostly talked about his bitter hatred for Jane Fonda and the way the government had ignored the needs of the vets, after they returned home again.

Then at nineteen, when I married my first husband and my first neighbor turned out to be a drafted, Army vet, who spoke some, but only about the better aspects, such as his friendships with others who shared the experience. Dave was a wonderful friend, but over the years I saw him descend into drug and alcohol abuse, the symptoms of what has happened to so many who were never given the help dealing with the mindset and memories of an ugly war.

Dave was a good man, he did his “duty”, did not shirk from it, and he returned to a society that was not only ungrateful, but totally unprecedented in its expression of hatred and loathing for those who served.  I have heard many a veteran talk about returning home to strangers and even people they knew well, and being spit on at airports and being called “baby killers”.

Remembering VietNam

Our government many times left the “wounded vets”, who were physically and mentally scarred, to their own devices to  recover on their own.  The numbers of vets returning that were allowed to “self destruct” is a statistic we will never know exactly and mostly because of all the ways and means that the destruction of their lives occurred.   But I know of two cases where one vet died running his motorcycle into an embankment and it was called an accident, and another who broke his wife’s neck while sleeping (he had a nightmare / flashback) and ended up dying in a prison/ mental hospital, probably from a broken heart and spirit.  Those are the casualties of war that are never reported as such.

One thing I do know is that many of these vets were left alone to deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder, the severe depression, and the ordeal of constantly living with the physical pain from their wounds, without any rehabilitative aide available for their minds and bodies. We were the “mental health and therapy for awareness” generation, and yet, we could not see that these vets were struggling, just to get back into being able to live and work normally?  I think their struggles were infinitely more important than someone coming to grips with their “inner child, dysfunctional upbringing or sexuality”.

And thus, the “Me and I Generation” marched on over the bleeding souls of our vets, in my humble opinion.

VietNam Vet

While spending time with many of these vets, during my time with the PGR, I came to understand that many have found their own healing in making sure our military today knows that they are supported and honored here at home. The largest amount of support organizations for troops today have come from and been inspired by, our very same socially shamed, Viet Nam Veterans, as well as the family members of those currently serving and families of fallen troops in the War on Terror. The mantra I hear and see acted upon by my honored Nam Vet friends is “Never Again”.

Overall, there has been a great healing brought on by these hero’s of old by seeing to it that no returning vet today will feel what they felt or be treated the way they were treated, just because they answered their country’s call to duty and served selflessly and with honor. To these troops of the past, I salute you and vow to honor you and your service to my dying breath. Thank you all and Welcome Home to every soldier, sailor, marine and airman who ever served this country!

In the coming months, you will probably see a swing in my blog posts. It is all well and fine to debate politics, but for the most part, there are plenty of good reads on the web, done by people who know their facts and present them intelligently, and in some cases, on the extreme level. This is not where my heart is leading me.

VietNam Memorial

One of my dear blog friends, GM Roper has served, is from a military family, and has also been involved with psychiatry and counselling  for most of his adult life.   He has brought to my attention a service organization that is trying to fill in the gaps in mental health care for returning vets, by lining up professional volunteers to help,  by donating one hour a month to veterans returning today, and I want to get involved.

The Wounded Warriors Project, as well as,  other troop support organizations, have long been near and dear to my heart.  The only “Real Change” comes from work and dedication, not from arguing, insulting, and whining about things you are not empowered to alter. I will continue to honor my Savior here as well, since all I do and all that I’m capable of accomplishing in this life, I owe to Him, who gives me the resolve to get it done.

Coming from an environment where service to your country is honored and if one disagrees with a war, the blame is firmly placed where it belongs, with our leaders, not our troops, I’m sure my son had a hard time understanding this part of our history. I hope this post answers that question for him and many who were born after all this happened.

God bless this country and unite us all in peace and freedom always.

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December 23, 2008 - Posted by | Commentaries, God / Jesus Christ, Government, Our Military | , ,

10 Comments »

  1. HAM … thank you for a well-written piece of American history many want to avoid.

    Even after serving 2 tours across the pond over 40+ yrs ago with the 3rdMarDiv 27th Marines, India company, at a small place called Goi Noi Island and Liberty Bridge, in what was at that time, called the most bloodiest and costliest battle in Marine history, I still get hateful looks and remarks to this day.

    From that battle … myself and 2 other Marine Sergeants are the last known survivors.

    No wonder ‘Nam Vets don’t want to talk about it … we just want to forget and move on.

    I’m not a Desert Storm, nor Iraq “HERO” … just an old ‘Nam Vet.

    Comment by Travel Agent | December 23, 2008

  2. It would certainly go a long way toward healing and moving on if citizens gave you a “thank you” instead of disrespect, I would think. Thank you Travel Agent, and it is an honor to share my feelings and gratitude on this post. 🙂

    Comment by hoosierarmymom | December 23, 2008

  3. HAM… how very touching. I didn’t serve in Vietnam, while in the Army I ended as a Psychology Social Work Specialist and served by helping a few of the vets still on active duty before I was discharged. There anger at how they were treated, and my anger at being called baby killer on the way home from Fort Benning to San Antonio when I had not served in RVN but was amazed at the guts and heroism of those that did… Thank You is something I say to every Veteran my age or older that may have served in Vietnam, Korea or in WWII.

    Travel Agent, you and I never met, but thanks – from the bottom of my heart,

    Comment by GM Roper | December 24, 2008

  4. GM, this post is for everyone who has served. When a young man or woman enlists, they throw the dice when it comes to going in harms way. They all sign that check in the amount of, all the way up to, giving their lives for this country.
    Service and sacrifice, heart and soul to your combat buddies is always there, but as they say, All gave some, some gave all, it’s up to God when we get our call.

    Thank you for your service too GM and thank you for your friendship.

    Comment by HoosierArmyMom | December 24, 2008

  5. GM Roper … true, we’ve never met, but I’ve heard alot of great and wonderful things about you.

    You might not have served in a combat zone, but at least you did your time … time in a field I have no knowledge about, but it’s highly needed with people like you.

    Therefore, I salute you and commend you … thank you for your military service also, Sir!

    Semper Fi … Merry Christmas to you and yours…

    Comment by Travel Agent | December 24, 2008

  6. HoosierArmyMom, thanks for your wonderful post. I never experienced people disrespecting me while in uniform (29years 1964-1992), but I knew buddies that did. My problem was I would have tried to rip their heads off and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine. God bless all of our troops. I also have a wonderful relationship with the PGR, what a great group of folks. Please visit our AUSA site to what we have done in the last couple of months. We could not have done this work with the PGR’s and the Blue Star Mothers support.

    Walt Howard
    Command Sergeant Major, United States Army(r)
    President
    MAJ Samuel Woodfill Cincinnati Chapter
    Association of the United States Army
    http://www.ausa.org/cincinnati

    Comment by CSM WALT HOWARD | December 24, 2008

  7. CSM Howard, your comment honors me tremedously. Thank you for your service and dedication to our country. Judging by your “prescription” for abuse from civilians, I’d say you spent a good deal of time drilling young boys into men!!!
    I am currently a subcontractor for the DoD and very proud to be using my skills in support of the military as I make a living. I will be checking out the work on the ausa and I thank you for the link. Here’s hoping your and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year.

    Comment by hoosierarmymom | December 25, 2008

  8. Insightful and touching commentary HAM…those who look down upon our vets from any era have deep seated feelings on inadequacy and deserve nothing more than contempt and maybe a solid smack on the chops.

    Comment by kender | December 27, 2008

  9. thanks for the kindness.

    Comment by johnhauge | January 12, 2009

  10. Thank you for your service and your comment John.

    Comment by hoosierarmymom | January 12, 2009


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