Updated: May 3
On November 11, 2020 America celebrates “Veterans’ Day.” This is a day that should be celebrated, and every Vietnam Veteran should be greeted and treated with the utmost respect, because we fought a war where we lost so many young men, “Black and White.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, the reason I say this is because I am a 1966-67 Vietnam Vet. and I know first hand how we were treated when we returned home. I joined the Army right out of high school. But this article is not about me, but about all the men and women who fought and died in that war so “You” the American people could be safe and free.
A Vietnam Vet is someone who served in the armed services of participating countries during the Vietnam War. The term has been used to describe veterans who were in the armed forces of South Vietnam, the United States armed forces, and countries allied with them, whether or not they were stationed in Vietnam during their service.
However, the more common usage distinguishes between those who served “in country” and others as “Vietnam-era veterans.” The U.S. government officially refers to all as “Vietnam-era veterans.
In the English-speaking world, the term “Vietnam veteran” is not used in relation to members of the communist People’s Army of Vietnam, or the Viet Cong (also known as The National Liberation Front).
Ladies and Gentlemen, according to the U. S. Department of Labor, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) states, “A Vietnam era veteran is a person who:
(1) Served on active duty anywhere in the world for a period of more than 180 days, any part of which occurred between August 5, 1964 and May 1975, and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge.
(2) Was discharged or released from active duty for a service connected disability if any part of such active duty was performed between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975.”
In 2004, the U. S. Census Bureau reported there were 8.2 million era veterans who were living in the U. S., 2.59 million of them being reported to have actually served “in country.”
More than 58,000 U. S. military personnel died as a result of the conflict. That includes deaths from all categories, including deaths while missing, captured, non-hostile deaths, homicide, and suicides.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes veterans who served in the Country, then known as the Republic of Vietnam, from February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975, as being eligible for such programs as the department’s Readjustment Counseling Services program, also known as the Vet Centers.
The Vietnam war was the last American war with conscription. Conscription means: When this military needs people to fight in a war, but there aren’t enough volunteers, sometimes they’ll begin conscription, which is a law that says, you are able to fight, you have to fight.
The Vietnam Veteran has been stereotyped as phychologically devastated, bitter, homeless, drug-addicted people, who had a hard time adjusting to society, primarily because of the uniquely divisive nature of the Vietnam War in the context of U. S. History.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there should be no “Vietnam Veteran or any military personnel walking the street with signs, saying they are hungry, need help, and are homeless.
We are supposed to be the most dominant power in the world, but look at us now, we are the laughing stock of the world. We are supposed to be the nation that takes care of those who fought for American freedom.
The Vietnam Veteran was spat on, called baby and women killers, etc, when we came home. I get teary eyed sometimes when I am riding and see those men and women crying out for help. This is supposed to be the land of the free. Isn’t it?
The social division has expressed itself by the lack of public and institutional support for the former service men and women. In a material sense also, veterans’ benefits for Vietnam Veterans were dramatically less than those who joined after World War ll.
The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act of 1974, as amended, was meant to try to help the veterans overcome these issues.
In 1979, Public Law 96-22 established the first Vet Centers, after a decade of effort by combat vets and others who realized that Vietnam Veterans in America and elsewhere (including Australia) were facing specific kinds of readjustment problems, later identified as “post-traumatic stress (PTSD).
In the early days, most Vet Center staffers were Vietnam Veterans themselves, many of them combat veterans.
Some representatives of organizations, like the Disabled Americans, started advocating for the combat veterans to receive benefits for their war-related psychological trauma. Some U. S. Departments of Veteran Affairs hospital personnel also encouraged the veterans working at the Vet Centers to research and expand treatment options for veterans who were suffering from the particular symptoms of the newly recognized syndrome.
It was a controversial time, but eventually, the Department of Veterans Affairs opened Vet Centers nationwide. They helped develop many of the debriefing techniques that are now used by this traumatized population from all walks of life.
The veterans who started working in the early Vet Centers eventually began to reach out and serve World War ll and Korean War Vets., many of whom had suppressed their own traumas or had self-medicated for years.
Veterans, particularly in Southern California, were responsible for many of those early lobbying and subsequent Vet Center treatment programs. They founded one of the first local organizations by, and for Veterans in 1981, now known as Veterans Village.
Vets were also largely responsible for taking debriefing and treatment strategies into the larger community where they were adapted for use in conjunction with populations impacted by violent crime, abuse, and manmade and natural disasters, and those in law enforcement and emergency response.
Other notable organizations that were founded then include the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the National Organization for Victim Assistance. These organizations continue to study and/or certify post-traumatic stress disorder responders and clinicians.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there are still, however, many proven cases of individuals who have suffered psychological damage from their time in Vietnam. Many others were physically disabled. However, advocates ignore the many successful and well-adjusted Vietnam Veterans, who have played important roles in America at the end of the Vietnam War such as Jim Nicholson, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and U. S. Ambassador to the Holy See; Al Gore, Federick W. Smith (founder and president of Federal Express), Colin Powell, John McCain, Craig Venter (famed for being the first to map the human genome), and many more.
I was the first Negro to be hired by Western Union Telegraph Company, then at 215 West Martin Street in Raleigh, North Carolina, as a teletype operator, and became Night Manager in th 60’s. Dr. O. A. Dupree came to Western Union sending telegrams to potential students to come to Shaw University on the co-op program. Dr. Dupree asked me if I had gone back to college to get my degree. I stated I hadn’t. He asked me if I would like too. I said yes, but I had a mortgage, car note, and my wife and I had two daughters to raise. He stated he would be back that Friday, and he did come back. He pulled my transcript and Gulf oil awarded me a four year scholarship in business. I graduated Cum Laude in 1976 and was hired by U. S. Steel in Pittsburgh, Pa. as a Sales Rep. In 1980 I was hired by the United States Postal Service as an (LSM) Letter Sorting Machine Operator. I went on to become Lead Automotive Mechanic Supervisor, and retired as a Postmaster.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in Novemer 2019, I was nominated President of the Triangle Universal Negro improvement Assocaition at Martin Street Baptist Church during the King of Gayna’s visit to Raleigh, North Carolina.
So you see, Ladies and Gentlemen, we Vietnam Veterans, Black, White, Hispanics etc. are very talented people who served this country well.
So, my Vietnam family, be strong and proud and most of all love yourself for a job well done.
America, you should honor the Vietnam Veteran on Veterans Day as your hero. We have given you your freedom from communism, and no war on your native soil. We have given you a history that will last from now on. So when you see a Vietnam Veteran, say to him or her “Welcome Home or Thank you for your service.” Celebrate Veterans Day and be safe during this pandemic and wear your mask.