Times are changing and have been for us who serve or have served in the military, for the better. Times are especially changing for the Vietnam Veteran, who once returned home to their country that looked down upon their actions, actions they were not in control of.
The Vietnam War was one of the most ugliest war in American history, with poor decisions by the government, re-institution of the draft, the use of chemical weapons, the large number of deaths, and the lack of support for the troops on the home front. The Vietnam War is still viewed today as one of the worst battles, and America will never be involved in such a war ever again as claimed by recent presidents.
When the Vietnam Veterans returned home from Vietnam, they were not welcomed with open arms like soldiers are today; instead they were forgotten and treated like worthless individuals as they were called names, discriminated and even spit on by their fellow countrymen. Vietnam Veterans returned to their country with many physical and psychological disabilities that would go unnoticed for the coming years. The U.S. government lacked in preparation to help these returning veterans transition back into the civilian world, as many Vietnam Veterans found themselves on their own with little information to direct them on how to get help for the disabilities they had brought back from the battle field.
Many Vietnam Veterans turned to substance abuse and found themselves on the streets of America, the same America that sent them to war. Though many veterans did look for the help they needed, many would not receive help do to the lack of benefits our government had setup for these returning vets. The lack of funding given to the Veterans Affairs caused issues with the number of people a VA hospital could see on a daily basis. Supplies and readjustment counseling was limited along with other medical benefits for returning veterans from Vietnam, though that would soon change in time.
Thanks to advocates such as veterans of Vietnam and other good citizens of America, the U.S. began listening about the lack of benefits for Veterans of the U.S. Military. Increase in Funding to the Veterans Affairs led to the opening of Vet Centers all across the U.S., which allowed more veterans seeking help for physical or psychological issues to receive services. The development of these Vet Centers also led to an increase in job openings for Vietnam Veterans as many had the experience on the battle field to be able to help their fellow soldiers.
As times progressed Vietnam Veterans began seeing increases to their benefits as more Vietnam Veteran rights groups such as Vietnam Veterans of America increased advocacy for their fellow comrades.
Today Vietnam Veteran groups can be found even on Facebook helping to reconnect Vietnam Veterans and most importantly to help us veterans of present war’s. Vietnam War Memorial is a groups page on Facebook allowing users to leave thank you comments to these veterans; Vietnam Veterans of America is a non-profit organization that can also be found on Facebook reaching out to other Vets.
Just the other day I was sent a message by Johnny, a Vietnam Veteran who told me about what he went through when he returned home. Johnny wrote to me ” After almost 40 yrs I hadn’t put a bumper sticker on my car saying I was a Vietnam Veteran; however for the first time (last year) I had slapped a decal on my pickup truck letting the world know I’m a Vietnam Veteran and proud to be”. Johnny told me about how they were looked down upon by Americans when they returned home. Looked down upon so badly, that sometimes it was not in any soldiers favor to mention they were a Vietnam Veteran.
My father, I’m proud to say is also a Vietnam Veteran who also sees the change that has taken place among the treatment of Veterans. My father told me about the time when he returned home, the return he wasn’t expecting as the support he was expecting, wasn’t there. However my father today, I feel, is now getting that recognition he deserves along with all the other Vietnam Veterans.
Today soldier’s are more than ever being given the recognition they deserve, funding for veterans has increased immensely because of the sacrifices Vietnam Veterans have made. Vietnam Veterans advocating has helped us veterans of today as funding for the Veterans Affairs has increased, non-profit organizations to help veterans are developing and gaining support all over, education, medical and other benefits information can be found very easily as groups are coming together to share information and get it out to us who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
When I was in the service I cannot tell you how many times I was thanked by people, and if they didn’t walk up to me and verbally say it, they would say it through a smile. It was a great feeling to hear thanks by so many, but it was even a better feeling when my father was with me and this took place. My father told me what a great feeling it is for him to witness me being thanked by so many people for my service in the military, and it’s even a better feeling to see all the military members being supported by their country today. I feel many Vietnam Veterans would agree and feel the same way my father does when he sees a service man or woman being thanked.
A special thanks to Vietnam Veterans who have sacrificed so much to give us Veterans the benefits we have today, and to make sure America will always support us.
And those who serve today will continue to make sure Veterans of previous wars are never forgotten.
In Memory of Bill