Tag Archives: Soldier

Open Letter

Open letter:
I’ve never done an open letter before, but I feel a gap in the veteran narrative that’s close to my heart. There’s a group of service members, soldiers in my case, who’ve quietly slipped away beneath the quest of writers, reporters, and business men looking to make a buck trying to turn service members into victims.

I salute those Viet Nam era service members who gave the ultimate for their country. Some joined and some were drafted. I imagine the fought for the person to their left and right, which culminated in a national effort. Our country was a little off kilter then, like now, so many weren’t pleased with the civilian leadership, like now. Regardless, their honor and sacrifice is part of a time honored tradition.

I felt bad for those soldiers coming home to negative publicity and personal attacks. They didn’t deserve that. There was a real national threat, it just didn’t involve any actions by the enemy that folks could foresee, they were just beginning the whole “immediate gratification”thing back then. It’s easy to see how dangerous the world was in light of what we know now about the Cold War.

The folks who slipped through are the ones that didn’t come home. They didn’t die. They saw it through to the end and the lessons they learnt about men, materials, and tactics would stay with them forever. They stayed the course, reenlisted, and began the work of building a professional military.

This is where I came in, 1979. Right before Reagan came into office and these warriors put on their professional hats and used the money and freedom afforded them to train the most feared military in history. This is not an exaggeration, no country would make a move for 30 some years. If they did jump, they were put down with speed, precision, and violence of action, no messing around.

The Viet Nam Era leaders created this military that created years of peace. They spared no feelings or considerations when it cam to training and equipping their soldiers. Most importantly they embedded the “Lead by Example” mentality in generations of service members.

These guys went on to retire and moved into the civilian world quietly and confident that they left things better than they found them. I joined in 79 and retired in 98. I can tell you that it was two different militaries I served in.
My most proudest moment was when our soldiers executed the “100 day war” and again put down aggression with professional speed, precision, and violence of action. I’m proud because I passed those lessons I learnt from the Viet nam Era soldiers onto those soldiers and they performed flawlessly. I was not present at this war. I had retired and was teaching at the time, but I was proud!

If you read this by chance pass it on. There are millions of Viet Nam Era service members out there silently reminiscing in this success. There are millions of relatives that proudly display photos of these leaders in their homes. Let’s not forget them either, they stayed the course and gave us many years of peace through their strength of conviction. For this I am proud to have served under the Viet Nam era soldiers and am eternally grateful for those that humbly served our nation creating decades of peace.

With Respect
A fellow soldier

P.S. Would some leader, historian, or political figure please go back and read over General Powell’s comments on never going into action without an exit strategy. He brought that lesson to light after Mogadishu I believe!!!!


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.