A journey to Vietnam, and reconciliation


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The following guest post was submitted to VAntage Point by authors Susan Quaglietti, Kay Montgomery and David Klein.

What happens to soldiers’ hearts when they return home from the battlefield? Recent research suggests that Veterans, especially Vietnam Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are at a higher risk for heart disease. Veterans who have experienced the atrocities of war also are at great risk of being morally wounded.

While PTSD and moral injury are often connected, they arise from very different sources and have different symptoms. During deployment, Veterans can be placed in military situations that severely compromise and violate their moral code of values. Soldiers must kill to survive and often innocent civilian are harmed during conflict battles.

Unfortunately, treatment for soul repair from moral injury is not always available due to limited services, lack of information about the problem, lack of clinician understanding and indecision about the best treatment. Reconciliation around moral injury issues can be healing when the Veteran can safely explore deep emotions with a supporting community.

“You are either numb or embrace your entire emotional experience. You can’t unfreeze half an ice cube.”

This month a group of Veterans, VA providers, and academics met in Vietnam for a spiritual pilgrimage to process recovering from the Vietnam War. The team traveled from the United States with the non-profit organization Soldier’s Heart (http://www.soldiersheart.net).

The tour guide, Song, was a South Vietnamese soldier who was imprisoned for 2½ years and who was the bridge to translate the war experience between the Americans and the Vietnamese. Their reasons for voluntarily committing 16 days of travel varied, but all members wanted to support each other in achieving a sense of peace, forgiveness, and acceptance.

The Veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions and to make amends with local Vietnamese for long due atonement. Those who were witnesses to the reconciliation journey of the Veterans hoped to offer consistent emotional support, new friendship, humor, enjoyment, honesty, and comradery. Both Veterans and civilians explored how to share and carry the burden of the impact of war.

The joint pilgrimage allowed the Veteran to share the moral burden with civilians who had a symbolic part in sending soldiers to war and were impacted by the war at home. All members of the therapeutic community could work through their grief about the war, but the primary goal of the community was to share the pain and burden of loss and grief due to the Veteran’s wounded soul. By using this model, no one person would be crushed with the suffering.

Facing the Enemy

Veterans who returned to Vietnam had been stationed in the Mekong Delta, had served in the Saigon region, had operated their base camp above the Cu Chi tunnels, and had wandered through the A Shau Valley during the period when the battle of Hamburger Hill was fought. Feelings of anger, guilt, shame, and grief had long been carried by these Veterans. Upon returning to Vietnam, all Veterans required great courage and resilience to prevent from being drowned by the return flood of painful emotions.

The Veterans were committed and willing to be vulnerable and to embrace the entire reconciliation process, despite the emotional pain it involved. The witnesses were committed to being fully present to the process of healing and dealing with unexpected circumstances that may not occur in a typical therapy room or session. As Dave, the VA psychologist said about the emotional process, “You can’t unfreeze half an ice cube.”

Some Veterans such as Bob, who toured in the Mekong Delta and Saigon in the infantry, had already weathered tough roads towards inner peace. He acted as a leader to assist other Veterans to see the truth about working with anger, hate, and resentment when he counseled with such statements as “Rage and violability comes from me not being able to handle my emotions.” He was integral to the process when he shared his wisdom by summarizing “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems” and “Until you look at it differently, the feeling ain’t gonna change.”

Making Peace

Steve, an army medic who was also a conscientious objector, was disillusioned about the purpose of the war and the ultimate destruction that occurred over a decade and struggled with guilt and shame. He served in the battalion that fought in the battle of Fire Support Base Ripcord and his area of operations was close to the Battle of Hamburger Hill in the A Shau Valley. For his reconciliation time, he chose to reflect on American and Vietnamese lives lost and especially on his comrades who were not spared in battle.

After reading a poem he wrote, he lit incense to honor the fallen soldiers as a blessed ritual. Kay, a VA licensed clinical social worker immediately supported his pain by offering a hand-sized rock from the A Shau Valley as a symbol for working with guilt and shame differently.

Steve, who served in Vietnam as an Army medic, and a rock taken from Hamburger Hill

Steve, who served in Vietnam as an Army medic, and a rock taken from Hamburger Hill

He chose to allow the rock to be carried each day by a team member as he continued to work on his healing process throughout the trip. This embodiment and metaphor of the burden of his pain was symbolic and healing for Steve, other Veterans, and the supporting community at large.

Steve was able to receive this community gift at his AO, which had been transformed into a sacred space. As Steve softly cried, Kay reminded him to remember he was a courageous, caring soldier with good moral values and that he still walked with those same, consistent values. She chanted for all souls to hear “Don’t lose that. Don’t lose that piece of you, despite all you lost.” Susan, a VA nurse practitioner realized after witnessing the ritual and community support that “Tears of sorrow can form tears of laughter and joy when transformed with healing.”

Later in the day, Steve mentioned he planned to learn the art of sculpting in order to work with the pain of guilt and shame using his hands to transform it. This example illustrated the ability of a Veteran to reset a past experience into a new framework within a community that willingly offered acceptance and forgiveness. It also demonstrated that being “stuck” with trying to process moral injury can be used to learn to do something differently.

Reconciliation and VA Care

The reconciliation work done by the Veterans in Vietnam mirrors the clinical therapy offered in some VA clinics called “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).” As Steve mentioned to the group, “You can’t hate someone else without hurting yourself.”

Deep emotional wounds such as hate can be painful to process but using a model such as ACT can assist with being able to sit with unpleasant feelings, and looking at truthful responses. This process ultimately allows the Veteran to choose to live a life of value that matters to the individual, despite the experiences or emotions existing around them. Practicing acceptance and forgiveness in a supportive community can assist the Veteran to learn how to sustain this behavior throughout a lifetime and create a different way to live with the trauma experiences.

In addition to forgiveness, other Veterans such as Bob found healing because he “was putting away my survivor’s guilt and processing my grief. I was seeing things from a human side on both sides of the war.”
As the literature suggests, Veterans with moral injury also struggle with feelings of guilt and shame. The reconciliation trip to Vietnam Veterans from the Vietnam War, Veterans from other military war zones, and VA service providers from many parts of the country was proof that connecting with empathy, building relationships, listening to personal narratives, and working with an open heart are key treatment ingredients to the reconciliation process.

A Vietnamese civilian mentioned at a conference in Saigon, “Karma brought us together in the war but karma can join us together for healing and peace.” The reconciliation and healing process is about being willing to look at a perspective and move to an internal place of acceptance. This internal shift is often followed by willingness to experience and release emotions and ultimately may bring a different kind of peace. This healing process can happen where the moral injury occurred or in a clinic setting. The Veteran and committed witnesses need to form a supportive community for the process to lead to miraculous change.

A Vietnam prisoner of war remarked “You have got to learn to have a good heart.” Hearts can be under attack, physically or emotionally during war but heart healing along with the soul requires a village of peaceful, loving individuals.


About the authors: Susan Quaglietti RNP is a medical professional at the Palo Alto VAMC, Kay Montgomery LCSW is a Social Worker at the Salem VAMC , and David Klein PsyD is a Psychologist at the St. Louis VAMC.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

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Comments

  1. Nelson Lissabet    

    When it comes to Vietnam Vets you folks still don’t get it. The “system” of people like you continue to blame the ‘nam vet for the things that happened there. ” The veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions” third paragraph second part of this article says it all. You have once again blamed us in this article without you even realizing it. There never seems to be any mention of what was done by the VC and NVA. No mention of the 2,500 civilians murdered by the NVA during the 1968 battle of Hue city. They killed everybody; cops, nuns, kids, monks, teachers, priests, etc. etc. This is never mentioned, but My Lai continues to be mentioned. Your lack of fairness is one of the principal reasons why Vietnam Vets continue to suffer. You continue to throw cannon balls at us with your “helpful” comments. I find your mushy, feely, article nauseating. After all these years you have still learned nothing. If you feel compelled to mention our sins have at it; we can take it. We’ve been taking it for 50 years, and most of us have made a good productive life despite people like you so called professionals, reporters, media, politicians, and other assorted idiots. However, if you have any courage at all, you might try to be fair to us for a change, and talk about the ruthless, diabolical, murdering enemy we fought, and tried to help the South Vietnamese defeat. I doubt that you will. Nelson Lissabet Cpl. USMC Vietnam 1968-1969 Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Purple Heart

    1. Robert E. Powell    

      Outdamstanding, Marine. Very well said…….”OORAH”…!!!!!!!

      2/12 Delta Co. 25th Inf. Cu Chi 1969

      1. Bill Vandal    

        Very well said Nelson…These folks never heard of, or dealt with the NVA. Semper Fi…Bill Vandal Marine Cpl. Khe Sanh 1967-68 1/9 & 1/26

      2. Paul Larned    

        Amen, Brother! This is [redacted] for all your reasons and others! Semper Fi! 2/4 67-68!

        Editor’s note: A portion of this comment has been redacted per VA’s social media policy.

    2. Richard Jack    

      Steel on Target, Nelson. Apologize? For what? Doing what we are ordered to do? Yeah, I regret it, wish I’d gone to Canada. So what? I did it and any pointy head that thinks I need moral healing should have stopped me before it happened.

      I grew up on a miIiltary family. As a child I was surrounded by hardened killers, including Paul Tibbetts. They generally didn’t regret doing what they were told to do and damn sure would go to their graves without apologising to their “victims.”

      The job of the military is to ruin things and kill people. I of on that damn plane and allowed it to happen to me. I blame only me.

    3. Jeff Noel    

      I commented in reply to your post but didn’t see the actual reply feature until now.

    4. Kenneth Wheeler    

      Nelson Lissabet, You are right on. Thank you for your service and calling out the ones who demean that service while kissing the then enemy’s whatever. Some should still be in Canada. Ken Wheeler 101

    5. John Foster    

      Right on Bro and Welcome Home!

      I am really surprised to see this article. It reflects the anti Vet sentiments from Kerry to the present day. We were called, we served, it wasn’t pretty but it was our duty. VA employees that consider us criminals or evil should be fired.

      30 years after Vietnam Agent Orange got me. 20 years later the VA figured it out, Now, as a 100% SC, chair bound VA client, I object to the way were characterized in this BS article.

      Brothers, you served with honor. Hold your head high.

    6. Sandra Lynn Collins    

      Thank you for your service sir. As a widow for the past 1 1/2 years of a Vietnam War Veteran (101st Airborne 68-69) I totally agree with you. When I read the introduction to the article I felt anger as if my husband’s memory and honor was being degraded. He suffered physically from Agent Orange, dying of cancer and mentally from P T S D. Vietnam Veterans continue to be vilified for a war they didn’t ask for, most did not willingly fight for but they did their job carrying out orders whether they wanted to or not.

    7. Paul Revis    

      I am frankly appalled that the Veterans Administration would even allow this on their website. Although I didn’t serve there I was in service during that time and know guys that were there. To blame them for what took place is a travesty when they had no choice but to go. Your unveiled attempts to blame them denigrates every Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Airman who served, and far worse, every one of them that came back broken, paralyzed, limbless, and who now die from the chemical effects of war. You should be ashamed, and you should apologize to them.

    8. Jim Hosko    

      I found this article disgusting and insulting. Thank you for your comments. I could not have said it better,

    9. Bruce Howell    

      AMEN BROTHER! ” The veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions” …Give me a break. I doubt very seriously whether any of our Vietnam Veterans had anything of the sort in mind during their travels to Vietnam. Those of us who served and lived the reality that was Vietnam know and understand what was our mission then, and now. We don’t apologize for the battles we fought! I can only apologize to our brother vets for the insults and ignorance represented in that article. It’s evident to me that authors Susan Quaglietti, Kay Montgomery and David Klein haven’t the right to interpret or presume the motivation, (if any) that drives us as surviving “wartime in-country Vietnam veterans”.

      Specialist 4 Bruce Howell
      Headquarters and Headquarters Battery
      7th Battalion, 9th Artillery
      Vietnam 1969

      Susan Quaglietti RNP* is a medical professional at the Palo Alto VAMC,
      Kay Montgomery LCSW* is a Social Worker at the Salem VAMC ,
      David Klein PsyD* is a Psychologist at the St. Louis VAMC.
      (*) Academic Rating Omitted: “Number One Dinki-Dow”

    10. alan l. hughes    

      Oh, please! There are a thousand of these so-called “non-profits” that have reared their profitable, sham vacations-to-anywhere their boards of directors choose to go…. Thank goodness, some of them have been exposed, such as the one that paid for a hardier-than-I-am to climb mountains all over the world, seeking “healing”. Exotic hunting, fishing…you name it, it can be yours. There should be a law for these “healers” to publish their spread-sheets every time some sucker prints an article, such as this. Alan, combat vet, Central Highlands, ’67-’68

    11. Max Holt    

      Well said, Marine. I flew Army airplanes all over the country, 68-69, and helicopters with the CAV in the Delta, 71-72. Many trips in and out of Mickey’s Ears and Parrot’s Beak and all in between, supporting the 9th ARVN Division, helping keep the vicious VC/NVA out of those villages. They intimidated the villagers with rape, murder and enslavement of the young men. WE didn’t destroy their country…the VC/NVA did! The VA and the Media never report on the good we did in Nam. Every major unit sponsored a Vietnamese Orphanage, with food, clothing and construction, and provided all levels of medical support for civilians. We flew the U.S. CORDS civilians (Civilian Organization for Rural development) all over the Delta, helping Vietnamese farmers and with village organization and cooperation. CHORDS more than doubled the rice production in the Delta. But, you never hear about that! Also, the VA (and especially the media) mislead the U.S. civilian population by insinuating that ALL vets were MORALLY WOUNDED, or have PTSD, or are somehow mentally deficient. The truth is, only about 30% of Marines, 20% of Army, 10% of Air Force and about 5% of Navy personnel ever actually face the enemy in active combat. That’s normal…designed that way. The rest are in support of those who go to combat…Admin, Logistics, Mail, Finance, etc. Air Force and Navy require more support because of the size of their equipment. It irks me when I see some Clerk, who pushed papers and never fired his weapon at anyone, claim to have PTSD…maybe because the ice cream shipment was late that month. I met a Marine Corps Vet (Burkett) who did a research project, to find the TRUTH about Vietnam, and published it in a book called, STOLEN VALOR. Everything in the book can be verified by records…no crazy war stories and no stupid Media accounts of the war. EVERYBODY needs to read that book. He discovered that only 30% of Vietnam Vets were drafted. And, since the 80s, instead of the VA doing their job by diagnosing and properly treating illnesses, they try to blame everything on Agent Orange. As a slightly-disabled (10%) Vet, I received the Agent Orange report for years. The only disease they ever PROVED had a connection to AO…was acne! The decision to provide compensation for AO was POLITICAL…not Medical. The News Media yelled to the world that the war and the casualties were a big discrimination against people of color…when, in fact, on 12.5% of Vietnam vets were Black. You can’t trust the media to ever tell the truth!! Truth is…Vietnam Vets had the highest education level, lowest post-war unemployment rate and lowest homeless rate of any class of veterans. READ THE BOOK…you’ll be glad you did.

    12. r smith    

      What kind of a BS anti military anti vet tribe is this,,get lost girls,,no wonder the VA is such a mess these idiots probably work there

    13. Craig R    

      Nelson, Your post stands alone in its clarity, truth and sanity. Obviously, the clinicians (whomever they are…) who wrote this article are VA stooges who help make the rest of the VA look bad to Viet Nam vets who thought we were ending our lives without being betrayed again. The writers and the participants are, in fact…. the “despicables”. There are a lot of new ideas coming from the Executive and Congress… one being a Bill moving forward to more easily terminate VA loafers who essentially possess lifetime tenure.

    14. David F Young    

      Excellent post Nelson. I’m tired of the leftist apologism. Regardless of the politics of the war, our men fought there to suppress the tide of communism that damages the dignity of man and they fought in good faith. The intention was to liberate; not bond.

  2. Larry Clark    

    Thank you Cpl. – I also caught the part that stated the Veterans were there to make amends and atone for their actions. I have learned that we, Viet Nam Veterans, are never going to be recognized for having done what our government sent us to do and we will always be the black sheep. I also served 1967-1968, US Army Airborne (101st), Forward Observer w/ Infantry, Purple Heart and other citations. Partially Paralyzed for life due to enemy gunfire. Curahee…

    1. A.G. McEntire    

      Larry, thank you for you service. I flew in direct support for the 3/506/101st Ann in 67-68.
      I was a pilot with the 192nd. AHC at Phan Thiet. Get was a bitch for us. Take care. Glen McEntire

  3. Dona Wilson    

    My husband was a Vietnam veteran. He served in Vietnam in the years 1966-1968. He passed away from lung cancer due to his exposure to Agent Orange on November 2015. He is a casualty from that war 50 years later. I agree with Cpl Lissabeth, The men did not ask to be sent there. They went served our country and had to do what they were ordered to do. My husband went and done his duty to his country and never talked about it. Now he paid the ultimate price, his life. I salute and am proud of every Vietnam veteran. May God bless you all.
    A USMC Wife
    Semper Fi

  4. Calib Blaget    

    I’m with Nelson,this has got to be one of the stupidest articles I’ve read!

  5. Robert Easter    

    I could not agree more with Nelson Lissabet. Robert Easter CWO4 USMC Retired Viet Nam 1968-1969

  6. William Lee Samsell    

    I agree wholeheartedly with the Marine, Mr. Lissabet.

  7. Gary Gautreau    

    Yeah,and the communist Vietnamese are probably laughing behind our backs.People who’ve never been their don’t have a clue about those people.I’m not saying they were all bad,but you didn’t know who to trust.

  8. Michael Pellerin    

    Melson, I respect your point of view I was drafted in 68 69 US Army… was in Tay Nihn.. yes those ruthless things were committed by the NBA’s as many as were committed by us over there as well… We would not have this conversation if we had not been duped into going to that war by the politicians that were running our country at the main at that time who were the puppets of the military industrial complex I lost many great friends there as I’m sure you have and the 50 thousands of families who lost their sons and brothers and fathers nothing is ever good about war but since it happened at least we can try to atone perhaps it’s mushy the way they presented but it’s a Tony some of us required help when we came back I was lucky I did not and it sounds like perhaps you did not suffer anything either but I still have anger for being duped and going over there and not resisting I wonder if you don’t have some anger as well in any case be well my brother

  9. Dave Challburg    

    ” The Veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions and to make amends with local Vietnamese for long due atonement.” As a veteran and radio operator for 1st 14th infantry 4th Div 1968/69 I am offended by the language in quotes above. My actions did not destroy any part of Vietnam. War is hell with may consequences and responsibilities to “all” parties. It is difficult enough to have been in a war without people pointing fingers attached with words implying some moral wrong. This coming from the VA surprises me, you think this is healing, bunk.

  10. David L Greer    

    I whole-heartedly agree with former “jarhead” USMC Cpl. Lissabet ! Vietnam conflict was nothing more than a continuation of Korean conflict to prevent/slow spread of communism into southern Asia, etc., and nothing to do with war against other skin colors, race, etc…Damn!.. yet, re-writers of history (who never served) continue to avoid mention of that or other positive intentions of our USA government…Continuation of 8 yrs of Obama negative crap!—former “swabby” David L. Greer-RD3- USS Los Angeles CA 135; never in country, gathering electronic intel off/along coasts of China and N. Vietnam…

  11. George Beecher    

    How dare the VA publishing comments like ” The veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions” . Evidently the VA feels veterans are responsible for actions taken in war. Should WWII vets apologize to the NAZI’s? Korean vets to North Korea?
    I have no idea how the veterans in your article have been brainwashed to believe they are responsible for any action they were under orders to do.
    Shame on the VA!!

  12. James Sullivan    

    Thank you Mr. Lissabet. I was going to post about this article but you have posted my thoughts better than I could have.
    (Salute) Welcome Home
    Jim Sullivan
    16th signal det.
    68-69

  13. Mike Hill    

    Nelson Lissabet, you have expressed my thoughts better than I could ever. I am a Vietnam era veteran who only served in the lower 48 due to my specialty, and I admire you combat vets more than I can say. This article ticks me off too, and if Congress had had a fraction of the courage you men had in the 70s, Vietnam might now be as well off as South Korea.

    Disgusting article.

    Mike Hill, USAF 1972-75

  14. Dave Challburg    

    Agree with Cpl Lessabet 100%. I am shocked that the VA would make and support these kind of statements. War is hell with consequences and responsibilities for all parties. To keep flipping this back to the American veteran is an indication the VA still does not understand and if you do not understand how can you help.

  15. Richard E. Forster Sr    

    Cpl. Lissabet, I commend you for your post. When I read the letter by Ms. Quaglietti, I came to the same conclusion you did without seeing your post. I don’t know what else to say except SHE needs to rethink her position on that war or shut her mouth. A post such as hers gives every Vietnam veteran a slap in the fase. You are sooooooo right. We didn’t go there and start that war, the communist did and the United States backed a free goverment to support it and it’s people. There was / is NO NEED FOR ANY RECONCILIATION ON THE PART OF THE US FORCES THAT FOUGHT THERE. Thank you again Cpl. for your quick and highly accurate responce.Richard E. Forster Sr, E7 USN-RET

  16. Kevin Ronin    

    “..The Veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions and to make amends with local Vietnamese for long due atonement…”

    Whoever wrote this sh(redacted)t should have their (redacted) handed to them and apologize to all those – living and dead – who served in Vietnam. Then fire this individual. I’ve always supported the VA, but this really pisses me off.

  17. iva suarez    

    I know how hard it is to forgive but in learning to live with this thing called PTSD we must forgive ourselves and others for the things we had to do and the things our enemies did to us.
    I was on LZ Loon June 1968, out of about 180 Marines only about 60 walked off without a scratch the rest were KIA’s or wounded. I was one of the 60 and still feel the pain. But I know that I must learn to forgive so I can live with this thing called PTSD.
    After LZ Loon, I left ¼ Delta Company to join a CAG unit as a squad leader. My survivors guilty was so strong I never took R&R while in Nam because I could not take losing any one of my Marines.
    I wish all combat Veterans learn to forgive ourselves and others.
    Just remember this “what war dose is take good people and makes them do bad things than they have to learn how to live with this for the rest of their lives”.
    Corporal Ivan Suarez
    ¼ Delta Company 3rd Marine Div. and 4th CAG
    US Marines 1966 to 69
    Vietnam 1968-69

  18. Jp Huller    

    “…visit a country that was destroyed by thier actions.”
    BS!
    Visit a country that they fought to keep free.
    Visit a country where a war was fought.
    Visit a country that destroyed thier lives.
    Visit a country that stupid American politics sent them to fight in.
    The author needs to take a better look at things and keep his frigging opinions to himself.

    1. Moses Mora    

      Obama negative crap from former swabby DL Greer, never-in-country takes the cake. Still blaming Obama who wasn’t even born when the Vietnam War was going on. From Moses Mora was-in-country, Mekong Delta 1968, Central Highlands 1969.

  19. Donald J. Taylor    

    This article just proves what we Vietnam Veterans have known for some time now: The American people still don’t understand Vietnam Veterans.
    The other day at the office, one of my co-workers asked me how it was that I served multiple tours in Vietnam as a combat infantryman and I didn’t get PTSD. My rather flippant answer was “I didn’t get PTSD in Vietnam, I gave it.”
    However, this PTSD question made me wonder what PTSD is and what the symptoms are, so I did a little research on the subject and found that I did indeed possess symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) concerning a traumatic and very stressful incident that occurred during my last tour in Vietnam. I was a professional soldier when the traumatic incident occurred and had accumulated over six years in Vietnam engaged occasionally in close combat with a vicious and cunningly capable enemy, but the traumatic event was not as a result of close combat with this enemy.
    One day when I was totally focused on closing with and destroying the enemy, something caught my eye, I looked around and found a new enemy had unexpectedly appeared behind me; it was the American people. The same Democrat Party who had originally sent me to Vietnam promising that, “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty,” had now sided with the Communists I was fighting. They were parading in the streets of the United States under a Viet Cong flag, were quoting from Mao’s Red Book, and were spitting on and flinging insults at returning Vietnam Veterans. Then, a Democrat led Congress cut off funding for the Vietnam War, American combat troops were withdrawn and we abandoned a valiant ally to their fate. I was ordered out of the country in 1972, and when I arrived at Travis Air Force Base, purposely in the dark of the night, I was advised to change out of my uniform and put on civilian clothing to avoid being attacked by the American people when I entered San Francisco. I was not at all surprised when a few decades later these same people elected a Marxist-Communist as President of what was once my country.
    Yes, the deep, burning hatred I feel for the Democrat Party to this day could be diagnosed as a symptom of PTSD, and I assure you, every Vietnam Veteran I know feels the same way.

  20. V    

    USMC Vietnam Veteran, David Klein PsyD is a Psychologist at the St. Louis VAMC.! In Saint Louis,Missouri my born town. It’s thousand’s of Vietnam Veterans still fighting for there VA benefits. I watch thousands of fight for there benefits, and die before receiving them. I have been fighting for over 40 years now, and just in 2013 WON !! Service connected disability,and now still fighting the VA for all my back pay,and payment today the VA is still incorrectly paying me and my family benefits. I have a wife with eight children in our VA home. The VA every time,give us less money,and less money. We protected this Country and other people Country because of the Federal Government personal business. Then went you are discharge the real battle began fighting the VA for your benefits.David Klein how many Vietnam veterans have he help to Win there disable benefits.

  21. Jeff Noel    

    @ Nelson Lissabet: Neslon, I totally agree with you 100%! Reading the initial blurb on the e-mail is what made me look into this article. I couldn’t believe that they actually wrote, “The Veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions and to make amends with local Vietnamese for long due atonement.” This drivel is directly in line with how liberals think of our Armed Forces. They pay lip service to the men and women who serve(d), but all the while their actions and attitudes show their true feelings. I know that some of our people did not act correctly in Vietnam (and other wars), but to label all who served in these times as war criminals is beyond the pale. Thank you for your service and know that you are appreciated and not forgotten by those who came to serve after you! Semper Fi!

  22. Kathy Crookston    

    I agree with Nelson 100%. Our Nation, not our brave marines, Is and has been suffering moral injury. Agent orange showered on our marines by their own government – the neglect and disdain 100% disable veterans receive from the VA – the necessity of using savings to pay for care, caused by agent orange, outside the VA. I have been married to a marine, Vietnam veteran, for over 50 years, lived through the protests, the name calling, the discrimination, the need to leave service record off resume. The shame is on the United States Government and the citizens of this country (like you) who did not/do not support the men sent to fight this war – not on the Veteran!

  23. Gary Moreland    

    Well said Marine. That also struck a nerve with me. ” The things WE DID? Wow

  24. Larry Melton    

    I’m so irritated after reading this article. I have watch over the last few years as you and your ilk have spread this moral injury crap across our campus and veterans organizations.

    Are you so insecure in your commitment to a religion that you find need to drag the combat veteran into your delusional thinking. We are not a generation of the morally deficient. Please don’t use me to justify your existence. My PTSD Is the results of not be able to process the trauma that is directly associated with my combat experience. It’s not because I or others like me are morally bankrupt.

    Those of us who are working our way through the challenges of PTSD now understand that in those moments of trauma inducing events, we by our training and sense of commitment to our comrades had to move forward. We now are beginning to confront the fact that in doing what we were trained to do we still have a lot to process we now face the reality of dealing with the trauma of those fire fights, mortars, and the loss of our friends. Across the board we are making progress, the treatment/counseling that is made available to me is based on science and is practiced by well trained clinicians, not someone who the ‘good idea fairy’ has visited and shown them a path to publish and/or expand their personal thinking.

    Much as my iPhone is not the place for me to make you understand that anger that you have brought to the surface, I just as strongly believe that a VA blog is a place for you spew this nonsense. Rest assured that I will be contacting any elected official that might still have us in mind in an effort to move this magically thinking back were it belongs.

    1. Craig R    

      … and the writers are the people qualified and capable with dealing with PTSD… which used to be called “Anticipatory Socialization” psychosis? When’s the new moniker going to arrive? We can’t ‘work through PTSD’; we simply learn to cope with it… more often than not without the VA’s limited and often ineffective or non-existent help. I’ve read this article 3 times and am more and more apoplectic each time I read it. I must stop reading. USMC I Corps ’67-’69

  25. Robert T Murphy Jr    

    Can’t post comment! Captha code wiped it out!!!

  26. Alan Murphy, SP4, U.S. Army Viet Nam '68-'69    

    I absolutely agree with my Brother, Cpl. Lissabet. We were doing what we were told to do, by the, “leaders” of our country. We were merely the instruments of their actions and agenda. I believe that, like the Viet Nam Wall, articles of this nature are an affront to every service member that survived that hellhole and returned home.

    I also believe it is absurd that American citizens are allowed into Viet Nam to travel and spend our money there. I believe it’s wrong that so many American jobs have gone there, further reducing our country’s ability to provide manufactured goods here, for ourselves. I believe it’s even more ridiculous that the VA would advise that, “WE” go back to reconcile what, “WE” did there. “WE” didn’t do it.

  27. B. A.    

    “The Veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions and to make amends,” That’s where I stopped reading. I sure as hell don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. That’s just BS.

  28. Richard Tompkins    

    The article is totally out of tune when it said the country we destroyed. I thought the VA was to support us not blame us for something Washington did. Outstanding response Marine!! Semper Fi

  29. Mike miller    

    (redacted) can kiss my @$$. Bad article too

  30. Craig James Wiseman    

    As a veteran of Vietnam, I have to agree 100% with Nelson. I hope this article was written under the guide of the Obama Administration. If not, I am very disappointed in our current President allowing this to be published on this Veterans web sight. We lost over 58,000 Americans over there and countless more here at home after returning home. Many still struggle today as a result of the War. This article was a disgrace to every veteran whose served.

  31. terry slota    

    i do not mean any disrespect to any Nam vet that feels they have to go back there to get rid of any demons that might still be bothering them, but for me, i would never set foot in that shthole country for any reason what so ever..

    3rd Batt. 7th Marines ChuLai, RVN 10/65-11/66

  32. Harry Forbes    

    The VA should never of publish this, it goes right in the faces of all Viet Nam veterans.

    Harry Forbes, USMC Viet Nam Veteran 1966 to 1969

  33. John Foster    

    Right on Bro and Welcome Home!

    I am really surprised to see this article. It reflects the anti Vet sentiments from Kerry to the present day. We were called, we served, it wasn’t pretty but it was our duty. VA employees that consider us criminals or evil should be fired.

    30 years after Vietnam Agent Orange got me. 20 years later the VA figured it out, Now, as a 100% SC, chair bound VA client, I object to the way were characterized in this BS article.

    Brothers, you served with honor. Hold your head high.

  34. Harry Forbes    

    The VA should never have published this, it goes right into the faces of all Viet Nam Veterans.

    Harry Forbes, USMC Viet Nam Veteran 1966 – 1969

  35. Walter Kaelin    

    I agree with Nelson wholeheartedly but am too emotionally upset after reading the article to comment sanely. still suffering after 50 years. Walter Kaelin, Viet Nam near the DMZ 66-67

  36. John Calannio    

    Mr. Lissabet couldn’t have said it any better. As a Vietnam veteran I was taken aback by the article. It was a nauseating piece of crap. An insult to the 58000+ servicemen and women who never came home and to all of the rest of us who answered their countries call to duty. What’s the author going to do for an encore? Recommend Hanoi Jane for the Congressional Medal of Honor? Maybe the Nobel Peace Prize?

  37. Tom strzepek    

    We, as soldiers were sent to fight a war. We did not destroy Vietnam and no “atonement ” is needed. If any atonement is warranted it should be to the brave men who fought for a principle and died in the process . Coming home to demonstrations at airports protesting the war and disrespecting our troops was the real disgrace that should be atoned for.

  38. Cory Baltazar    

    if all you vets think like this nelson guy and are going to Vietnam to apologize because you think you made a mistake maybe you should just move there I’m a vet and I served my country as needed that’s nothing to be ashamed of or regret

    USMC

  39. Fred Van Orsdol    

    Such an offensive post! We did what we were asked to do. We did it well. We won every battle even though we were being back-stabbed by liberals, politicians, the media, dope-head hippies, protesters and educators at home – just like today. We didn’t go over there to conquer or kill innocents. We went because we were instructed to go and to slow the advance of Communism. The North invaded the South, not the other way around. We defended in the South and did not send troops to the North. The difficulty in determining friend or foe in Vietnam was purely intentional on the part of the North, and they used lies and actual mistakes to support their cause with traitors in the U.S., traitors too gutless and ignorant to support us. Kennedy and Johnson made us fight with one hand behind our back – and allowed the enemy to have safe havens and prevented us from really hurting the North at home when it was lightly defended. Same gutless approach as Truman during Korea. By the time Nixon decided to let us do real damage up North, against the most heavily defended targets in the world by that time, his administration was so undermined by his one lie (which was absolutely inconsequential when you look at the magnitude and number of lies and deceit from the Democrats today), we gave a victory away at the negotiating table. Only in America, due to our internal traitors, can we win every battle and so decisively lose a war! Then, typical of our traitors, they try to blame the veterans for their mistakes! This article proves that the liberals are continuing to blame our heroes! I think this article reflects a VA resulting from the Obama administration!

  40. Deanne Morin    

    Unbelievable! Quote: “This month a group of Veterans, VA providers and academics met in Vietnam for a spiritual pilgrimage to process recovering from the Vietnam War. The Veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions and to make amends with local Vietnamese for long due atonement.”
    How dare you write that the veteran’s actions destroyed Vietnamese lives. This was the U.S. governments fault for getting these young men involved in a war that was none of our business!! Shame on the writer of this article who obviously knows nothing of the sacrifices that these men and women have gone through and still suffer today. and a retraction is DUE. A long overdue apology to the soldier’s lives that were lost and the disabilities it caused our U.S. troops who still suffer today from agent orange disabilities, PTSD and a host of other disabilities both physical and physiological.

  41. Bill Vandal    

    These 3 authors are typical of why the VA is an inept government failure…..They have no clue and never faced an enemy,nor bled or dealt with losing fellow soldiers. Bill Vandal Marine Cpl. Khe Sanh 1967-68

  42. Tony Infantolino    

    I have to say that as a Veteran and as an American I am deeply offended and disappointed that the VA would endorse a POS article that actually insinuates that our brave Vietnam veterans are at fault for what happened in that country. THEY DID NOT DESTROY THAT COUNTRY AND HAVE NO NEED TO ATONE FOR ANYTHING. If fact I would say that that country destroyed a great deal of those brave young men and woman. The only atoneing that needs to be done is that from the United States to those men and woman that were mistreated and to a large degree forgotten when they returned home.

    I would expect better from the VA than this article.

  43. Robert H.Fowler    

    What a load of liberal clap trap. Make atonement, for what!!! I would love to have a face to face with the person who wrote this blog. I could tell them about the four types of cancer I have had, the dialysis I am on etc.

    I guess the families of the 58,000 plus on the Wall should all apologize for their family members who gave their lives to the people of Vietnam.

    You people should make atonement to us Vietnam Vets for this garbage blog.

  44. Tom Hurley    

    The VA should be ashamed to have published this piece of anti-Vietnam Veteran garbage. I spent 13 months in country as a grunt USMC 67-68 and in the field the whole time. In all that time when we went through a Village the villagers welcomed us all the time. Never in all that time did I know for any so called atrocities being committed. Talk to the kids that where in the Catholic orphanage west of Da Nang and how they felt when the Tet offensive started and our company had a platoon go out their to protect them. Or the young girls in the villages that could sleep at night and not be afraid of being kidnapped or other bad things happening to them. I have no guilt about having been there. Maybe a little guilt about making it back when so many others did not.

  45. Arthur Sobey    

    I think it’s a personal thing. I was morally compromised by what I saw done and did to innocent civilians. It has always haunted me. Seeing an old woman crumple, dead, in a rice paddy where she was only working to feed her family, killed by a door gunner who was mad because a friend of his was killed in the same area a few days earlier, seemed ok at the time. The horror of it all did not come until later.
    Add this single event to many others and the magnitude of disillusionment only grew. Killing innocent civilians because you were angry at the war seemed ok at the time but was not only wrong but immoral; it violated most of the morality we learned growing up.
    It didn’t help to hear our fellow, non-service connected citizens call us killers for doing exactly the kind of things we actually did. Most vets, including myself knew right from wrong but things got confused in Vietnam. We were angry that our friends and comrades were killed in that senseless war and often took it out on the innocent civilians we ran across during other combat ops. There were many other reasons for the slaughter of innocent civilians.
    Vietnam could have at least provided future guidance in similar wars. When we invaded Iraq, it was clear the USA had learned nothing in Vietnam – the most useless of all American wars.
    The observed suffering of innocent civilians, folks much like my own family members, led to 45 years of struggle with PTSD before I sought help.
    Your post is a good one; I think I understand what you are trying to say. Without taking anything away from those who still disagree, there were many degrees of participation in Vietnam combat and most who served there know that. The more often you were exposed to direct combat, the more opportunities you had to morally digress.
    I think many vets were affected differently because of the level and degree of their participation in that war.
    Only 10% of those who served there saw regular combat duties.

  46. Danny Johnson    

    I’m right with you, Nelson…I ain’t ashamed of shit I did and ain’t going to apologize for a damn thing…I did what I was ordered to do and did a damn good job at it…have no desire to go back to that shit hole, and no desire to play handsy with the same people that probably stuck bombs in our bars…I’ve served all over Asia and I find the Viets have the least integrity of any people in the region…sorry to be bitter, but damned if I’m going to kowtow to fuckers I would have killed or they would have loved an opportunity to kill me.

    1. David E. DeVries    

      Thank you Mr Nelson. You put it as good as anyone could. Sounded like a N. Vietnam political officer wrote it. Certainly by someone completely ignorant of the real feelings of viet vets. D.DeVries U.s. Navy, Mekong area of ops.

    2. Moses Mora    

      Thank you, Arthur Sobey, for your measured and reasonable analysis. It hurts my soul to see all my Vietnam vet brothers still carrying around unnecessary hatred for what happened some 50 years ago.
      Moses Mora, Mekong Delta, Central Highlands, 1968-69.

  47. Sandra Lynn Collins    

    Sandra Lynn Collins February 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm Reply
    Thank you for your service sir. As a widow for the past 1 1/2 years of a Vietnam War Veteran (101st Airborne 68-69) I totally agree with you. When I read the introduction to the article I felt anger as if my husband’s memory and honor was being degraded. He suffered physically from Agent Orange, dying of cancer and mentally from P T S D. Vietnam Veterans continue to be vilified for a war they didn’t ask for, most did not willingly fight for but they did their job carrying out orders whether they wanted to or not.

  48. Dan Kassner    

    I am a Vietnam Veteran. I am very proud of my service to my country and to the country of South Vietnam. I was in the Intelligence Corps, based in the town of Than Son Nhut. I must admit, I did not see combat. Nonetheless, for several years, I suffered from the constant need to have my back to the wall or tucked into a corner. Minor, I know, compared to what most suffered, but it was there.
    This is a deplorable article. In no way were we at fault for the “destruction” of Vietnam.

  49. Nelson Lissabet    

    I am surprised and humbled by the overwhelming support given to me by the many comments made. Thank you all for your support. Welcome home, and hold your heads high, for WE are the best of our generation. God Bless you all, and Semper Fi. Nelson Lissabet

  50. William Karp    

    I, one of many do not owe the Vietnamese people any thing, we already gave them 58,000+ lives for nothing. Only the troops that were in combat rolls have a right to comment on the war. I was an Army combat medic from Nov. 1967 – Oct. 1968, 80% of that time was spent beating the bush with Alpha Company of the 196th LIB, coming home with a Purple Heart and 2 Bronze Stars with Valor plus the other basic awards. We had many men die while I was there, several spent close to five years as POWs and this article wants to talk of a need for forgiveness……don’t think so!
    Why not an article about how poorly the war was ran from the Presidency down? No fire zones and truces do not work if you plan to fight a war.

  51. Michael W. Snyder    

    I really thought we were done with the anti-Viet Nam Vet sentiment. I served in combat, if that means being shot at and shooting back. I really can’t believe that the VA would try to load down veterans with guilt like this. With employees of the VA “helping” us like this, it is no wonder that so many vets are still screwed up. What a terrible thing to do. You should be ashamed. I’m proud to have served my country during difficult times and to have put my life on the line to prevent the spread of the scourge that was and is communism.

  52. Max P. Friedman    

    Thanks to Nelson and all the other Vietnam veterans who commented on this typically liberal mea culpa piece of crap article about “atonement”, “destruction”, etc. “War is hell” no matter which way you slice it. It is not a neat little liberal mind cluster-f where everything is honky dory with unicorns and rainbows all around.

    Our servicemen and women served and fought to preserve the freedom of a people (paraphrasing Neville Chamberlain) who “lived in a far off country of which we know very little”. We saw how that worked out. There was damned little difference in the end between what Hitler did to my relatives in Lemberg/Lvov and what the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese did to over 6,000 people, mainly civilians, in and around Hue during the Tet Offensive of 1968. If f you want to see the names of those victims, I have a list of at least 3,000 from Hue and over 62,000 victims of communist terrorism from 1954 – 1973, right in my hands. “List of Civil Servants, Cadres and Civilians of the Republic of Viet Nam Abducted by the Communists since 1954” (printed 3/24/73 by the So. Vietnamese Ministry of Information or similar agency, Saigon).

    If anyone should atone for war crimes, genocide, torture, kidnappings that usually led to death in the jungles, and all-out naked aggression, it should be the North Vietnamese communists who started it all, i.e. a war of conquest, going back as far as the betrayal of Vietnamese national leader Phan Boi Chao in 1925, among over the 350,000 or more South Vietnamese the reds killed in their conquest of South Vietnam, not to mention the almost 2 million slaughtered in Cambodia (including people I knew), and upwards of over a 100,000 or more people, esp. the Meos tribe members, in Laos.

    Many years ago I wrote an article entitled “We Bear the Wrong Guilt”. You know what I said and I have never changed my mind for a second and never will. The American military and many honorable civilians did their best under less than ideal conditions, to save three countries from communist aggression and enslavement. They did not fail on the battlefield, in the land reform programs/agricultural production improvements, health care facilities and training, or civic action organizing for a more democratic type of government/election system. Remember, the So. Vietnamese voted with their “feet” twice, once in fleeing No. Vietnam in 1954 and then again fleeing PAVN/VC invasions.

    Oh, and they voted “with their feet” to endure communist shellings and assassinations going to and while in line to vote in the 1967 and other elections. You saw this human desire to be a free person when the Iraqi citizens, which my son helped to liberate from a fascist/torture-ridden regime, voted in their first really free election and proudly showed their purple-marked fingertip as a sign of “freedom”.

    Guilt-ridden, squishy-minded liberals and self-flagellating fools will never understand the concept of having to fight for freedom because it entails all the terrible things of life and in a human, but in the end, they can be guilt-ridden, squishy-minded fools because someone else stepped up to preserve their freedoms to be that.

    No honorable Vietnam veteran or Vietnam-service civilian should be ashamed of their part in trying to stem the tide of communist aggression and to preserve or give freedom to an often unarmed or underarmed country that cries out for help.
    The Western World failed to stop Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese Imperialists in the 1930’s. Y know what that cost in lives and destruction of countries.

    Well, multiply that by about 3-4 and you have what communism has done around the world, including 90 miles from our shores.

    Atonement – hell no. Apologize – hell no. Stay guilt-ridden – hell no. As my late father-in-law, Lt. Col. James Lucore once said, “I”m proud of my military service and have no regrets about it”. He was bombed at Schofield Barracks on Dec. 7, 1941, and ended up wounded on Iwo Jima (one of three Purple Hearts). He stood tall all his life with included a military career of over 21 years including all of WW2 and the heart of the Cold War). He was an American and an American soldier. Nobody could or would ever take that away from him and his family.

    Don’t let the VA weenies put “the hurt” on your, my Vietnam veterans friends. Tell them to “pound sand” and take their guilt trips elsewhere.

    Thank you for your service, all of you.

    Max Friedman, Research journalist, MACV-accredited, SVN Fall 1970 and Cambodia

  53. Bob Redell    

    I went back not to atone for anything. I went to say a prayer for Buck who got killed walking point. I went to say a prayer for my squad that had 4 killed when one guy sat on a bouncing Betty. I went for the other 4 guys who were wounded when they kicked another bouncing Betty trying to help their fellow Marines. When I arrived with the rest of my platoon the “friendliest” walked by like it was another day at the market.

  54. SGT. US Army Bill Bingham    

    I, as well am a proud Vietnam Veteran. Although, it wasn’t that way when I came home in April 1971, I served from Feb. 1970 and was exposed to Agent Orange multiple times and suffered with a bout of Malaria while I was there. Only to come home to people who spat on me and called me a baby killer etc. That’s when I learned to not even admit to people that I had served. It took me many years to finally admit to people that I had served there with some of the greatest men(fellow soldiers) I have ever known in my life! I have had 2 brain tumors since then and 6 by-passes on my heart (I died in the emergency room, but was saved). It took me 12 years to prove to the VA that these were a result of Agent Orange. And I had to prove it with letters from non VA doctors. I now have an Aortic Aneurism that they are still debating if that is caused by Agent Orange. At this point they have given me a 30% disability, even though I am limited on the activities I can engaged in. And now you want me to admit that I am ashamed of what I did in Vietnam. I made a promise to all those men and women on that wall many years ago that I would never disgrace or dishonor their sacrifice. DAMNED IF I WILL NOW! I will die first. GOD BLESS ALL MY FELLOW COMRADES IN ARMS BOTH PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

  55. Neil Stegall    

    The originator of that liberal diatribe should be put in a uniform and promptly placed in harms way. And yes, I was incountry from 69 thru 72.

  56. Brian Gingrich    

    you know when I started to read this this rag article I thought it was some kind of joke, when I realized it was not a fury went through me and all I have to ask is who in the hell do you think you are, you must be some right wing idiots and you should be bared from ever picking up a pen for the rest of your lives and some hard time in a real prison is in order or maybe some of you should meet some of us in a real private area for a ” chat ”

  57. Ben Alcala    

    PTSD is over rated rated , in 65/67 I was there and done that, I am at peace with myself at a ripe old age of 70. this never was a fight for my country, it was a fight to stay alive. US Army 25th Div Wolfhounds

    1. Hutch Dubosque    

      No, Ben, PTSD is not overrated! As a former Wolfhound, you should know this. We all ended up fighting for our own survival along with that of our buddies. I am glad that you are “at peace” with yourself, now. Some of us, however, still are not; we have learned how to live with it. U.S. Army Combat Medic, 1/27th Wolfhounds, 25th Inf. Div., Chu Chi & Tay Ninh, 12/67 – 12/68.

      1. Ben Alcala    

        You are right we did what we had to do to stay alive, and the Medics made a big difference in that out come.It took me about 30 years to own my part in what I did especially to children and the elderly

  58. Jim Cargill    

    This is just another embarrassment to soldiers who fought in Vietnam. Rather than offering us even a glimmer of pride for supporting the goals of our nation, doing our duty for the country we loved, and performing our roles as soldiers both bravely, and with pride, you insult us. You blame us, individually and collectively, for the destruction wrought on a nation by two nations who fought the war there. You blame us for “destroying” a nation that was an ally, and being attacked by another nation, North Vietnam. Yes, there were atrocities, which are inexcusable, and which occur in every war. Yes there was destruction, and innocent victims became casualties. Again, sad and unfortunate, but inescapable in 20th Century warfare. Yes, the war was a waste of millions of human lives. However, I DID NOT CREATE THE WAR, NOR AM I ASHAMED OF MY INVOLVEMENT.

    Your personal opinion interjected via the comment, “The Veterans came to revisit the country that was destroyed by their actions and to make amends with local Vietnamese for long due atonement.” is an insult and affront to every soldier who fought in the Vietnam War. When will those soldiers get due atonement for the cynical, sarcastic, filthy, and mean-spirited actions by UNITED STATES CITIZENS upon their arrival home, and for decades afterwards? Spat upon, cursed at, and threatened by our very own United States citizens, until recently, never receiving even the most modest showing of gratitude for “doing our duty”.

    Screw you!!~!

  59. Jim Cargill    

    For those you who are offended by this article, I would ask that you immediately contact the U.S.Dept of Veteran’s Affairs Crisis Hotline. The hotline is not solely for people who are suicidal. It is there to help all veteran’s who have emotional feelings about their “veteran experience”.

    I tried to reach several offices at the V.A., including the Inspector General. All offices are closed at this time, and do not accept voicemail. So, I jjust made a phone call to the Crisis Hotline, and asked the person who answered to please have someone in authority go to the “Vantage Point” blog, and read the article (I gave her the title), and then read the comments following the article. I did tell her that, if a Vietnam Veteran was suicidal, or having thoughts of suicide, this article just might push them over the edge.

    I ask that ALL of you contact the Crisis Hotline, or other V.A. Affairs offices, with your thoughts.

  60. Patrick Gallagher    

    I feel I was in contact with this women in this article. I was stationed at Phu Cat air base in 1969 and did some volunteer work at an orphanage and I am sure she was part of the staff in some capacity. Sure would like to get back to that region at some point. What a wonderful return for those Vets.

    1. Patrick Gallagher    

      I would also like to add to my comment that I do not think we Vets need to apologize for things done during war time. We were sent there for reasons none of us could have really been brought up to speed at 19 yrs of age. We just did what our leadership asked.At the time I thought we doing what was rite but as years have passed,we as the great nation we are,seem to stick our noises into everyone else,s problems.We need to take care of this country and our own situations. If we are threatened, then and only then, do we need to react. But until then, we need to build our nation into the strongest and self reliable nation in this world.

  61. Robert Arnold    

    Nelson said it exactly right, many – maybe most, of the of the soldiers I served with had misgivings about Vietnam especially after seeing how the politicians kept us from fighting the way we could have won. War is h___, and should never be undertaken without strong reason, but to blame the courageous individuals who went there and did what our leaders ordered us to do is perhaps the greatest atrocity I have ever encountered! It even surpasses the rotten fruit hurled at us when we deplaned at Oakland Air Base and the “baby killer” taunts when I passed thru O’Hare on my way home. My uniform went into the closet when I arrived home and has only been removed when we moved, since. I have finally felt good about my service when I began going to my local VA Medical Center but this articles comments about the veterans seeking forgiveness for destroying their country and making atonement’s for their actions make me want to puke!

    The brave men and women who served in Vietnam should be treated like the hero’s they are and I am ashamed that the VA would sanction comments such as these. Blame the politicians who got us into this war and then tied our hands so that winning was impossible but honor and respect all who served! Us Army Headquarters Area Command, Saigon 1970

  62. George Schlitz    

    58,479 american troops died for what?I was RA and volunteered for viet nam at the age of 18.served two tours there to get an early out.Had seen alot and done alot.But when i came home my feelings was different about war.Maybe the protesters were right about nam.I disagree about not going into the service.The service is good for a young man.But going to vietnam fighting and giving up was crazy.ALL FOR NOTHING.We didnot destroy them they destroyed us. George Schlitz 1966×1968

  63. Louis Charles    

    Outstanding commentary, Mr. Lissabel. Thank you,
    Vietnam Veteran
    1968-1969
    101st Airborne
    2- Purple Hearts

  64. Gerry Marker    

    When I first read this article, I thought that I must being dreaming. Surely, I told myself, the VA would have nothing to do with publishing this claptrap. I want to thank Cpl.Lissabet for his well thought out and appropriate response. Nothing I could say could possibly describe my feelings any better. I went to Nam because my country sent me. This was amoral obligation because we had promised to protect the people of South Viet Nam. Maybe that was a purely political promise, but our integrity demands that we keep our word. After I was in country a short time, I realized that I had other reasons for fighting. I was fighting a personal war, also. The slaughter, rape, and other atrocities being committed against the people of the South was something that I could ignore. Don’t try to tell me that I damaged that country. or committed immoral acts. I would proudly do it all again today under the same circumstances. When our weak kneed politicians decided to give up the fight, I literally sat and cried.

    Sgt. Gerry Marker (Ret.) USArmy, 3rd, 39th, 9th Infantry Div.

  65. Blackie Jones    

    wife of a combat Nam vet – and the current commander in chief was another draft dodger, five time draft dodger

  66. Diego Tran    

    Authors are Kerry’s disciple, they are still ignoring that the people they met in VN still being oppressed and terrorized by their own police state government.

  67. Dominic Monteleone    

    100% concur with CPL Nelson, I found this article extreamly offensive. The liberal left loonies that write this crap still don’t get it.

    Dominic Monteleone CPL
    RVN 67-69

  68. Ga    

    This is a DESPICABLE piece of writing. Perhaps the WWII US soldiers should grovel to Hitler for all the atrocities of that war. Get down on their knees for stopping the carnage that Japan was inflicting on the world. Perhaps there should be a sincere apology by the US to it’s own soldiers for flagrantly poisoning them with Agent Orange and then denying any knowledge of it for years.

  69. Ga    

    Vietnam Vets should DEMAND an apology for this DESPICABLE article.

  70. Denni Reimink    

    Who’s the editor here, Jane Fonda?

  71. Roger Wick    

    Love your comments. These assholes are still blaming us for there atrosities.

  72. R J Del Vecchio    

    The selling of guilt to vets who served started by antiwar psychiatrists and psychologists in the early 1970s, and had some success as men struggling to readjust to civilian life and deal with the memories of the war fell victim to what was more like indoctrination than good counseling. A small fraction of vets still have to deal with these feelings, but the major reaction of most of us is frustration that all our suffering and sacrifice were thrown away by politicians, and the South was basically abandoned to conquest by a merciless regime. Which even today is infamous for its lack of human rights and brutal suppression of all dissent.
    The Hanoi regime loves to see US vets come back on guilt trips, it fits in perfectly with their myth of a war of liberation from an invading Western military and the overthrow of a terrible, corrupt southern regime. For the VA, of all places, to play into this propaganda game and cast yet another false image of those who served there is a travesty and deep offense. What comes next, an article praising Jane Fonda for her brave attempts to save American soldiers by telling them to desert or frag their officers? This is nothing short of disgusting, as the tidal wave of other comments has already demonstrated. Shame.
    I spent 1968 running around I Corps with various Marine units, and know very well what went on in Hue, the carefully orchestrated and brutal murders of roughly 5000 people. I also know very well what went on in the years after Saigon fell, and even antiwar figures like Joan Baez were horrified by it. We have NOTHING to be ashamed of, other than abandoning the South Vietnamese.

  73. Larry Melton    

    I’m still irritated
    I attempted to respond to this to this deplorable, disgusting post yesterday and failed, I suspect the “captcha” requirement was the problem or possible that I was so challenged by this nonsense that I ‘fat-fingered’ the send.

    How dare you implied that I/we are damaged goods. I have watched over the last few of years as you Moral High- grounded opportunists have persistently attempted to infiltrate our campus’s, workplaces and veteran’s groups with this damaging rhetoric. You attempted this crap when I was a young man struggling to fit in upon returning from Viet Nam. You failed, and now you are at it again. The difference this time is that we have support available to us, and we use it. We don’t need your, I have a better idea attitude. Ever veteran that reads this has suffered the consequences of the “good idea fairy’. You must know that we have a working system that keeps us grounded. One that is based on good medical and scientific data, not on the vagueness of spirituality, if you doubt this contact the Mental Health section at any VA Hospital. This snake-oil that you are peddling served no purpose then nor will it now.

    It took our government years to come to terms with the fact that traumatic events left a lasting impression on our young minds. Our military training and youth preposition us to move on, not to take time to process what we were experiencing. We quickly understood that to stop an grieve would mean that we not only endangered ourselves, but importantly those that stood by our sides. Those of us who after 40 plus years of trying to drink our self to death, dull ourselves to the pain we cause or love ones with drugs, are at last beginning to understand that there is a path home. It has nothing to do with our lack of moral fiber. We understand that to move-on we must confront the traumatic events that have us waking in stark terror, or become weak-kneed at an unexpected sound. We are beginning to understand that keeping ourselves grounded and attempting to process events that happened all those years ago is the path. It is not as you suggest that we confront our moral weakness via a “spiritual pilgrimage”.

    We now can avail ourselves to wide range of professional and empathetic support. Support that comes from entities that understand the thread that ties us together. While you have incorporated the terms and methodologies used by VA Mental Health facilities, Veterans Service Organizations and Veterans Support Centers, you, as you can see have not connected with us. I think it is obvious that your agenda is possible veiled or worst yet self-serving. You have come across as opportunist, nothing less than 21 century carpetbaggers.

    While we are currently living in an age where our elected officials often fail to hear those who have elected them, please rest assured that I will continue my efforts to stop you and your ilk from advancing this demeaning, veiled and harmful religiosity. It is true that some of us, as we approach death we will come to terms with our needs for “spiritual healing”, but not before we have had a chance to process, without guilt the effects of a war we fought to the best of our ability.

    A final note, normally I enjoy VAantage Point. I don’t know that I could endure another slap in the face like this, just a reminder that the Veteran’s Administration the last time I look is apolitical and secular in nature.

  74. JP Huller    

    I am glad that the authors names and where in the VA they work is listed, so I can make sure if I ever meet any of them I can tell them fade to face what I think of them.
    They have shown readers that they actually know very little about the war, are relying on alternative facts, and that thier understanding of those of us who fought is lacking. No doubt thier approach and treatment techniques are equally flawed. To in any way suggest, as they have, that the Vietnam veteran carries any blame demonstrates the authors are unfit to treat veterans. A true medical professional would keep thier personal opinions out if thier work.
    Equally so the editors share responsibility for allowing such negative and harmful views to be published.
    I would be willing to listen to an apology from all parties.

  75. Brent Elrod    

    Wow. This is literally the first time I opened a VA email and was sick by what I read. I am not a Vietnam vet but I served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I apologize to my older military brothers and sisters who served proudly in Vietnam fighting for the USA. That article is insulting. I thougot it must be some sick organization impersonating the VA. What is going on with this organization?

    I want to hear a apology from the VA.

    LTC (R) Brent N. Elrod

  76. Mel Beverlin    

    All Vietnam veterans deserve a public apology from the VA and our government leaders for this article. Beverlin Bco 3/21 196th LIB 68 to 69.

  77. Jason Shepherd    

    I’ve read about guys going back to visit for whatever reasons and still don’t quite understand the lure of this mindset of a tourist. (Beaucoup MPC). We often spoke of bombing the North and Trail back into the Stone Age only to realize that Vietnam was in the Stone Age except for a generous supply of AK47’s. Keep in mind that to this day the only decent infrastructure in this foresaken country is that which was abandoned by those resourceful, gifted members of the Engineers, Seabees, and Redhorse. There is closure when you realize there is honor and forgiveness to be sincerely felt in support group. Job well done. Welcome home! USAF SSGT 68-69, Phu Cat AB (now international airport.)

  78. Eric Shield    

    Being a veteran of the most recent conflict I have seen what war has done. I understand the conflict of emotions with war but understand, it is war. Vietnam vets fought honorably. Is that to say all fought honorably, no. As in any war atrocities will be done. But for the majority, they were caring people put that were put in a difficult position and had to act accordingly. I have nothing but great respect for Vietnam Vets. After all, they did win the war but the politicians lost it.

    An IRQ Vet

  79. Jerry Campbell    

    Cant believe VA would publish that commie BS.

  80. Roger E Contreras    

    Wow, what a BS Article. I have never read anything that has angered me like this article.
    I am very proud of my service to my Country and doing my duty in Viet Nam.
    I try my best to shake the hand of every Veteran I pass. our veterans deserve acknowledgement
    for their service not atonement to Viet Nam.
    To all my Brothers and Sisters that have served or are serving our Country, May God Bless You.
    1st Infantry Division, U.S. Army 68 – 70

  81. Craig R    

    Doesn’t the VA have better things to do than renew the horror of this war on Communist aggression and slaughter? We failed; abandoning the hope of freedom in Viet Nam, Korea, and now the Middle East. Atonement? For what? … answering this country’s call to fight and die if necessary? Shame on you VA! I see that lots of others above have similar views. Oh… I have visited Viet Nam 6 times since the war and am happily married to a Vietnamese. I/we support her family, charities and contribute to her community since the Communist government cadres simply want to extort everyone possible. **USMC** Viet Nam 1967-1969.

  82. Larry Melton    

    I’m still trying to calm down. The three of you should be offered a chance to pursue other employment opportunities. If you want to have an in depth about the benefits of religiosity how about contacting the 58000 of us who didn’t come home. Or maybe you will try and convince us of the validity of “mysterious way”. If you really want to help us stop with the higher power approach and allow us to work through these nightmares in a realistic manner. Mindfulness will do more than hanging our hopes on a “better life”.

  83. Craig R    

    Pray tell… Does “awaiting moderation” really mean “awaiting censorship”?

  84. Jo Bu    

    As a presently-serving Soldier, I agree with the first comment whole-heartedly. What a shame. A disgraceful shame.

  85. Larry Riggs, MSG Ret. Army    

    Seems to me the professionals have overthought Vietnam Nam. Again they don’t get it because their perspective is different from our experiences. It will take a Vietnam Nam vet to solve our problems. I hear people saying they support the soldier but not the mission. Iraq and Afghan vets, so patronizing. They don’t see that the two, man and mission are inextricably linked. Vietnam Vets were injured in the heart. We are disconnected emotionally. We have shut off emotionally or we don’t care, period. Our connection is only to each other. All others be damned. Thanking me for my service, 20 years, is patronizing, it is to make YOU feel good.
    Thank you for your support John Q. For my brothers, nothing but love for you. Duc Phu & Chu Lai. 69 – 70 whowah.
    Peace Bro

  86. Janet Domrase    

    When will they ever take care of the Vietnam Vets? Apology is owed to you not them.

  87. nathaniel    

    I was a regular army officer who volunteered for VN. I had a recon platoon of 35 troopers. In 4 months I only lost 2 guys. May 1967 I was hit. I lost a leg, the other was paralyzed and a hand they wanted to amputate,

    After 2 years at Walter Reed I was back on actvie duty: THE FIRST AMPUTEE TO RETAINED ACTIVE DUTY IN THE VIETNAM WAR. I stayed in for 4 more years until the peace treaty signed and retired,

    I went on to law school etc. My marriage of 53 years is solid, I am 75 years old. So my message to all the PTSD crap is: GET A LIFE AND KEEP MARCHING.

    1. Larry Melton    

      My first inclination is to attack you. But then I reminded myself that as 11 Bravo I would offer you my hand.

  88. Michael Anderson    

    As a college student I was an antiwar advocate. After one semester, which was all I could afford I dropped of school, lost my deferment and ended up drafted into the Army. This meant to me that I was a “Sold Dier”, also known as an indentured slave
    of the military establishment. Unfortunately, my father was’nt Director of the CIA or a billionaire real estate mogul so my being excused from service could not be bought or influenced to allow me to do as I damn well pleased. So I did my duty and am proud that I did so. How dare people like the “Cowardly Draft dodger in chief” denigrate those of us who are affected
    by living in mortal fear and filth to promote the greed of the 1 percenters. AS to Nelson Lissabet, I have nothing but respect for our American Marines and there hard fought service in Viet Nam. There is absolutely nothing to apologize for or feel guilt about. The American government and people of the U.S. should feel guilty for the treatment and non care we have endured.
    We deserve everything available for giving up our lives fort his country.

  89. Patrick Vernon Farabee    

    This article is an insult to all Vietnam Vets. We did what our country ask us to. If Vietnam and its people are owed an apology it should come from the leaders of the United States. The servicemen did what we felt and wad told was the right thing to do. Proud of my service

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