The popular perception of the Viet Nam veteran is incomplete. The most important character in contemporary American history is missing. I’ll try real hard to focus, and not stray into reasons, my aim is to target heroes who will make you question everything you thought you knew about war, hero’s, and the home front.
This is sort of a fleshing out for a book. I’m writing a blurb now due to the overwhelming efforts of folks trying to portray the Viet Nam veteran as a victim, or some vest wearing patch junky on a motorcycle letting their steel hair blow in the breeze.
There is a group of Viet Nam Veterans that never came home. They remain lost in popular narratives about victimization or heroism. They didn’t die, they didn’t return home, and weren’t prisoners of war. These are the “vets” who re enlisted time and again until they completed a career.
Some did single tours, others multiple tours. They went on to create the most professional military the world had seen. They trained soldiers with the lessons they learned tactically and politically creating leaders who embraced a volunteer military concept.
I won’t give away all their secrets in this article. I will say they created a military that was feared. All those nations out there were afraid to cross paths with the American military. The Viet Nam era leader developed, trained, and evaluated their respected branches to excellence based on lessons learned.
One real personal reminder for me is General Powell. During his tenure the “Mogadishu” incident occurred. After this action General Powell was adamant about not going into a mission without an exit plan and ROE was something to be evaluated as to how it would hinder the units ability to accomplish their mission. Hanging service members out to dry was not acceptable.
This is just one example of the immense changes the Viet Nam Leaders implemented to create a professional volunteer military. I’m certain they had their share of negative situations returning to their home bases. PTSD was “shellshocked” and they took care of each other within the structure of the military. Politics plagued them for a time. In the end leaders rose as did confidence and trust was established.
The Viet Nam service member who stayed for the long haul and collectively created a professional, feared, volunteer military is an American character lost in the current climate of the glory seeking compartmentalized veteran mentality seeking to start an organization for every facet of service. The commercialization and politicization of military service has little to gain from service members who are “ok” and so “ok” they created a volunteer military the world could only dream of creating.
These service members are in living rooms and on front porches around the country. They rest easy, or hard, on the knowledge they persevered with dignity. They went back to hometowns or created hometowns and are sitting around watching the world they helped create.
I hope more folks will highlight these hero’s. They are the real examples that will keep our nation free. They know how to persevere with diligence and dignity. We need to hear more about how they transitioned and trained an all volunteer force and created peace for decades.