Shadow Vets

Are Viet Nam and Korean era vets still sitting in the dark unnoticed. We need the truth about vet suicide and hyperbole like “22 a day”! We need this truth from the Veterans Administration, not these groups, organizations, or charities looking to start a business off the backs of service members.

I’m proud to have served with the Viet Nam era soldier as my leaders. The work we did to uphold and improve training, leadership, and morale over our careers set the stage for the “100 Day War” and subsequent wars in the Middle East. The success of these wars is a direct reflection of the “Viet nam era” soldier who stayed the course and became leaders in the Army.

After researching veteran suicides and PTSD in today’s headlines it seemed as though we were leaving these “vets” behind again. At first glance you’d think there was a serious recruiting problem with the numbers being thrown around. In reality many of these numbers are misleading and when that happens someone usually gets left behind.

Any veteran committing suicide is one too many. What war they fought in, or even if they didn’t fight, makes no difference. The military looks after their own no matter. Having said that, the stats from VA indicate the the majority of suicides are from soldiers around 50 to 70. Within that age group are “Viet Nam era” soldiers.

Our collective conscious is shaped by stories, news feeds, and documentaries surrounding “Post 9/11 service members. The hype created by folks out there starting organizations to participate in the economy of post war enterprise has many viewing suicide as an Iraq/Afghanistan war issue. As I noted earlier, it doesn’t matter where a service member served or with whom the served, they all deserve recognition and support. My fear is the Viet Nam and Korean War era soldiers are still out there feeling unwelcome in the narrative of post war mental health issues.

There are many voices out there discrediting the Veterans Administration Health Agencies. Their campaign is an attempt to get in on the post war health boon. Ill caution/solicit those service members that retired in the 90’s to remind other service members how privatizing our healthcare with Tri Care left us paying for the free health care we were promised in the 70’s.

Veterans have pride and don’t take hand outs well. We were trained to adapt and overcome. As Veterans we need to support our young service members by enlightening them, while not forgetting those that trained us and the struggles they live with.

The Viet Nam and Korean era soldier were largely ignored as veterans, and in some cases as soldiers performing their duties. I hope with the popularity of war today, the last of the WW11 soldiers, and the “special units” out there promoting themselves as “elite” we aren’t leaving many service members behind. The Korean and Viet Nam war veterans are largely left out of the suicide/PTSD conversation and seem to be left behind. Awareness is a 21st century buzzword, and those that know these service members know that they are a proud bunch who will “make do” before they bother other folks with their problems. They’ll take their problems silently to their graves and be proud of it, to our great shame.

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