Dear Readers: I recently ran a letter from “Old Veteran,” who noted that, as a Vietnam vet, he feels quite uncomfortable when people say “Thank you for your service.”
Old Veteran noted that “There are many wounds that have never healed” because of the way service members were treated when they returned home from Vietnam.
I later ran a response from “Upset,” who claimed that this mistreatment was an “urban myth.”
These letters have prompted hundreds of responses from other veterans — and those who love them. Some of these responses are below.
On this Veterans Day, I’d like to say to all service members: Thank you.
Veterans who have been mistreated when they returned stateside after serving in unpopular wars report that they have yearned to hear these two words: Welcome home.
Dear Amy: The letter from “Old Veteran” made me cry.
I too was subjected to a lot of nastiness coming home after my service was completed. The day I got home and changed my clothes was the last day I ever talked about being in the service. I moved away from my neighborhood and never told a soul that I had been in the military.
So, please tell “Upset” that this is not an urban myth. I would tell that person to reach out and speak to some Vietnam vets, if they have the guts to hear the truth about how this country handled itself during this time.
— Detroit Mike
Dear Amy: I’m an Army brat. People told me my dad was a baby killer when he was serving in Vietnam.
And in 1977, I was spit on when I was wearing my ROTC uniform on campus. I understand people want to believe that those things never happened, but they did.
Let’s never let that happen again.
— Proud to Serve
Dear Amy: It’s been 52 years since I came home from Vietnam. For the first 30 years or so after I came home, I didn’t tell anyone I was a Vietnam veteran because I didn’t want to be harassed or ridiculed, but not anymore.
No matter how unpopular the war was, I am proud of my time in the U.S Army Infantry, and I don’t care who knows it.
Dear Amy: My mom was a nurse in Vietnam and always had mixed feelings about serving in the Army.
She was in the hospital seeking treatment near the end of her life, and the nurses and doctors found out that she was a veteran.
They started asking questions, and also thanking her.
In the week before her passing, she said it took her 40 years, but she was never so proud to have served.
She knew her kids were proud, but strangers saying, “thank you” and showing respect for her service boosted her.
She finally felt like she fully came home.
To all of the vets out there: Thank you and welcome home.
— Daughter of a Proud Veteran
Dear Amy: My husband spent 18 months in Vietnam.
When many soldiers came home, the minute they hit the States, they would change out of uniform because of comments that were being made.
Yes, there were those that were spit upon.
It was years before he would tell anyone that he served in Vietnam. Now when he is out and wearing his Army/Vietnam cap, more Vietnam veterans will come and talk to him.
— Loving Wife
Dear Amy: I am the wife of a Vietnam vet.
My husband was drafted, so he went. There wasn’t 24-hour news coverage; mail to and from Vietnam was spotty and the internet didn’t exist.
The poor treatment of returning vets isn’t a myth!
I will always remember waiting at Travis AFB for his returning plane with protesters shouting curses. And yes, spitting. It was awful.
Neither my husband or I thought the war made sense, but what protesters didn’t seem to understand is that the members of the armed services didn’t start the war, and few were volunteers.
They were just American “kids” answering the call of duty.
Dear Amy: For four generations, my family has served as pilots in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan. There are two words most appreciated by vets and rarely heard, “Welcome Home.”
I’ve had vets respond with heartfelt gratitude and pride, often telling me it’s the first time anyone has welcomed them home.
— An Air Force Brat
Dear Amy: I am an older vet. When people say thank you for your service, I reply: “I was drafted. But I would do it again for you.”
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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