I served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, not in a designated war zone, but assigned to a NATO base in Europe, fighting the Cold War. At times, I worked on F-111E bombers loaded with nuclear weapons that were ready to go to the Soviet Union at a moment’s notice.
I attended Spartanburg Technical College in 1976-1978 and worked part-time in the admissions office taking care of veterans education benefits for more than 600 other veterans. All this time I was struggling with my own emotional problems trying to readjust to civilian life after active duty.
Veteran students often talked with me about how awful their experiences in Southeast Asia. Many times they only wanted reassurance that they had done the right thing. Other times they were asking how to stop the nightmares.
Now, for fabricated reasons, we have found ourselves in more winless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The generation that said they wouldn’t have another Vietnam created another generation of hundreds of thousands of emotionally sick veterans who fought winless wars and who need help for emotional injuries. Just like 1976, there is very little help from the Veterans Administration.
As we celebrate living veterans, let us be mindful of their sacrifice of time, talent and, for the majority, emotional health. It is time for Afghan and Iraqi war veterans to receive special attention when applying for work.
We must all embrace and assist these young suffering veterans as they struggle to readjust to the civilian world of this great country.
Don N. Bramblett