I never liked the term, or to be categorized as a “Baby Boomer,” however, it must be said that a Vietnam Veteran was, and is, the “best of the Boomers!”
Approximately 10% of the men in the 1960’s and early ‘70’s served in Vietnam; nearly 60,000 died on that foreign soil so very far from home. Of those considered to be returning survivors, a huge number truly did not feel alive at all, though walking around.
Many of the other “Boomers” that were of age to be used in the military, rather chose to protest and disrespect those who were bravely serving. I was in the group of “the best of the Boomers” that served our country and fellow man out of a sense of love and patriotism. Let it also be known that when, and where I served, I was never aware of the often violent protests happening on the home front.
While I honor the right to protest peacefully against wrong decisions made by government agencies, it is the most heinous acts of cowardice to treat faithful defenders of freedom with the level of disrespect which was experienced. It is not so much that these veterans never received a thank you, but these brave Vietnam Veteran “Boomers” received the same disrespect, anger, and hatred upon returning home.
Most of the returning veterans had and have various effects of what we now know as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was largely misunderstood by even the “experts”). The veterans, (speaking for myself here), felt they were losing their minds, and in effect, they were when triggers set them off. And then upon coming home, many of which expected to be welcomed as a hero, were presented with a welcome of hatred and disrespect. Believe it or not, this type of welcome, at least in the mind of this writer, simply added another effect of PTSD, again not yet understood.
Today is a different time and generation of Americans. When I am recognized or understood to be a Vietnam Veteran, many, many, people say, “Thank you for serving” and “Welcome Home!” I get a rush of good feelings and love often from people I do not know. For the first time since 1967, I can openly feel good about my Vietnam years of service. To that I say, “thank you fellow patriot Americans, thank you very much!”
Also, today is National Vietnam Veteran’s Day, March 29th. Why don’t you say and do something really nice for a veteran, today and all week?! I am so remote you probably will not see me, but those you may see, buy him or her a lunch. Be sure to tell them, “Jerry says, ‘Welcome Home!’”