I’ve recently been advised by a couple of my dearest followers in my blogging family to write more things that are controversial or things that I’m passionate about. Mainly because I have strong opinions and because of that I write with raw, genuine emotion. One controversial thing that I am passionate about is the Vietnam War and it’s impact on veterans like my father. Who has by Gods grace reached what should be his golden years. My father is a disabled veteran with severe undiagnosed PTSD. Men of that generation tended to be macho men who seldom went to a doctor for anything much less something of a psychological nature.
The first time I realized that my Dad “wasn’t right” I was eleven years old and was awoke by my fathers bloodcurdling screams of “Get down, get down goddamn it!” As I sat up in my bed terrified and half awake I was unsure of whether I was still sleeping and having a nightmare or if this particular nightmare was one of a more literal sense. I soon realized that this nightmare was all too real as I heard my mother say, “Wade, get off of me honey, it was just a bad dream. We are at home in our bedroom. Safe,” then her voice faded off to just soft soothing words and sounds. Many years later as an adult my mother confided in me that Daddy had thrown her on the floor and covered her body with his many times in his first decade home from Vietnam. She said the first year or two were the worst when this same scenario happened at least every couple of days due to my fathers night terrors of still being in combat under enemy fire.
The United States government failed to make good on its promises to those who served in this War. It failed them in every way imaginable. Available GI benefits for those returning home from Vietnam were nearly nonexistent. As if having your government send you off to a war that wasn’t ours then cruelly turn it’s back on the lucky ones who came home outside of a body bag was not enough of a slap in the face to the soldiers who fought and died for our country. More insult was heaped onto injury by prospective employers, as the time came for said veterans to integrate back into society by obtaining civilian employment and were met with thinly veiled disgust.
These young returning soldiers were not looking for a ticker tape parade or a hand out. They were only looking for basic human support and help in readjusting to civilian life after this extremely brutal and long war.
The Vietnam War claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American service members and wounded more than 150,000 more.
My dad upon his return was spit on, jumped by a mob of angry anti-war protesters and was the object of ridicule and disdain. Why? Because he loved his country unconditionally and would have done anything to keep her safe and free. That included taking extra classes in high school so that he could graduate a year early. At barely seventeen years old and having to have his mothers consent enlisted to go to a foreign land to fight the good fight for a cause that wasn’t America’s fight to begin with.
It is now almost fifty years later. My once strapping, strong manly father is a shell of his former self. He is VA determined 100% disabled because he has gone blind. There are thousands more veterans of this particular war with the exact same issues as my father. The government is finally, just recently admitting that his blindness and a multitude of other health related problems of he and his fellow veterans were due to American forces spraying the dense jungles of Cambodia with Agent Orange to kill the vegetation with no thought to all of the troops on the ground being covered with it. If you don’t know what Agent Orange is, look it up. Today’s equivalent would be spraying yourself from head to toe with Round-Up weed killer on a regular basis for an extended period of time.
I can not even imagine in my worst nightmares, and I’ve had some doozies, what these soldiers endured, not only abroad but also the atrocities that they suffered at the actions and the hateful words of ungrateful, ignorant, piece of shit human beings upon their return.
Today I see far too many parallels between the anti-war hippies of that era and the far left, radical millennials of today. We have raised yet another generation of violent, ungrateful, self centered assholes. I say we, because it is mainly my generation that raised them. Although my two children are of millennial age, neither of them have a millennial bone in their bodies. I’d like to think it was because they were raised with discipline, integrity and being able to realize when they were wrong or perhaps wronged another in any way to take accountability for their actions. Children like mine, through fate who were born into this shitty generation are the exception. I am extremely lucky and certainly blessed that I was able to raise such empathetic, loving, independent thinking, young adults as my beautiful daughter and son are.
To all of our remaining Vietnam Veterans and their families, although words seem completely insignificant in relation to what each of you endured, from the bottom of my heart thank you.
I’d also like to apologize on behalf of a nation that did not give a shit about you. I’m so very sorry for your treatment by the same fucked up government that sent you there and the citizens who did not appreciate your many sacrifices. Ones that the United States Federal Government wrote the check out for and made all of you pay for it with your sanity, limbs and 58,000 service members who paid the ultimate price with their lives. Lady Liberty weeps for you, and so do I.