Vietnam Veterans Alone Misunderstood, not every Veteran, but for Vietnam era Veterans it was a different time.
Vietnam veterans came home to a hostile society.
For many Vietnam Veterans nobody knew what they had done or why. The media had played day after day of war photos, the number killed became like looking at a accountants balance sheet. The number of wounded was a staggering statistic and nobody thanked them or care. It was as if somehow it was the Veterans fault. The obligatory family and friends tried to help the returning soldier fit back into his life before Vietnam.
In most cases, that former life was gone the moment the soldier stepped onto Vietnamese soil.
I personally can account for 10 fights that were started with someone saying something I felt was inappropriate. They had no idea my mentality was still locked in a war zone. My quiet demeanor had a smoldering resentment building. The protests, the comments about “all you guys did was kill women and children”. The whispers, the looks when they found out you were one of those Vietnam Vet guys.
When I unleashed my anger there was stepping back, no I am sorry, no apologies accepted. I exacted my pound of pain from some loud mouth. Anyway that is how I viewed it at the time. I used whatever was handy if he was bigger than me. A cue stick, a beer bottle a cue ball, a shot glass, a fork. It’s seem crass and hardly believable that I acted that way. Yet that is exactly how I responded for the first two years back. I always made sure I couldn’t be arrested but I never walked away from a big mouth. Then a few more veterans came back and we hung together. Listened to music, talked and we calmed each other. It was group therapy only we didn’t we were doing it!
The public had a society of men that had been in shoot or be killed situations. These men in most cases didn’t talk about what had happened or what they felt. The military didn’t have methods available to deprogram the fighters they had created. The military turned the veteran lose on society and society on them.
Nobody helped wash away the memories of battle or the friends lost. Alcohol, pills and drugs for many soldiers was their only friends to quiet the sounds in their heads.
Some of us were fortunate enough to continue our educations. Many of us were able to slip into normal life by suppressing the images of combat. Controlling our anger, learning outlets to keep our aggression and thoughts to a minimum. I lived on the edge, racing motocross bikes, anything that had speed count me in! I am lucky I survived post Vietnam civilian life. Two marriages did not survive. My children have come to know who I am, but they had their demon possessed father to contend with for many years.
The attached documentary is 43 minutes long but worth your time to watch. It is not about me or the men I served with, instead it gives you an idea of how difficult it was to transition back into society for the Vietnam Veteran. It is also worth noting that 1.1 million Vietnamese people died during the Vietnam war.
Please be advised the documentary is graphic and may not be suitable for you to view. You will have to make that decision for yourself. I would not let my 10 year old granddaughters view this film, if that tells you anything.
Today most Vietnam Veterans are very active in helping other Veterans. They work to help their local communities. Vietnam Veterans are the largest segment of the Veteran population.
The Vietnam Veteran are some of the most tolerant and forgiving men and women leading prosperous productive lives in local communities all across the nation. You may not know you are living next door to a Vietnam Veteran. My children didn’t know much about my service days until about a year ago. I hadn’t spoken much about my service days or my return home for over 40 years.
Thank the Veterans coming home. It will mean more to them than you will ever know.
Even better give them a gift card to lunch on you. They will be speechless, and you will have made someone happy they served.