Reposting my February blog to Vietnam vets:
The recent review of my Woodstock novel, Goodbye Emily, by Vietnam Vet David Wilson means a lot to me. Some of my old friends have names on that black marble wall in Washington, so I’ll pause in my discussion of Woodstock to talk about something that means a lot to me.
People who weren’t around then might find it difficult to appreciate how the country treated soldiers who returned home from the Vietnam War. To say poorly is a gross understatement. In previous wars, returning soldiers were treated to parades and accolades. At the end of World War I, Doughboys returned hom to ticker-tape parades, marching bands, speeches and the good will of all Americans. Soldiers returned home from World War II and Korea were treated as heroes.
Today’s generation of veterans return to the most pro-veteran environment in decades. Many corporations actively recruit and employ veterans, and the post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides benefits for higher education and vocational training to help veterans make a successful transition.
That wasn’t what happened to Vietnam veterans. Many people transferred their dissatisfaction with the Vietnam war to our soldiers, most of which were draftees, like my character Buck Jamison in Goodbye Emily. The country owes these Vietnam vets an apology for the way they were treated. Since I was around back then, so do I, but apologies aren’t enough. We should reach out to ensure they receive services they deserve and clearly earned through their efforts and sacrifices.
From me to all Vietnam vets, a belated thank you for your service to your country.