The value of recognizing Vietnam Veterans 50 years later


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As one of more than nine million Veterans who served in Vietnam and other parts of the world during the Vietnam era from 1955-75, I am especially grateful that we are now being officially recognized and thanked for our service. Today, a coordinated nationwide campaign is being led by the Department of Defense and supported by VA as part of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration Program.  For those of us who served when called upon then, it has been a long time coming.

The recognition is being carried out through a series of events nationwide at which Vietnam Veterans – and Vietnam-era Veterans – are being presented with an official Vietnam lapel pin by top government and military officials.  A national event will take place at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington on March 29.  In fact, President Donald Trump has signed a proclamation that declaring this date as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

The amazing impact of a simple “thank you for your service” can be seen by the emotional expression on their faces when Vietnam Veterans receive their special pins at these ceremonies – often in the presence of family members and other Veterans.

Like most Vietnam Veterans, I returned home from the War to a somewhat hostile political environment in the United States.  The impact of the anti-War protests across the nation in the late 1960s and early 1970s fostered an anti-Vietnam Veteran atmosphere here at home that lasted for nearly 20 years after the war ended.

Now, I am glad to say, things have changed for the better and are continuing to evolve. The building of the Vietnam Memorial has helped bring about an atmosphere of healing.  And there now are a host of counseling programs available for Veterans – and active duty service members.  VA has been a leader in the treatment of PTSD and also has implemented high-profile suicide prevention line – around the clock program that has documented success in preventing thousands of possible suicides by Veterans and others.   (You can call the Veterans Crisis Line if you or a Veteran you know is in crisis.  Dial 1-800-273-8255  and press 1).

At VA we are committed to providing much needed counseling for Vietnam Veterans – indeed, for all Veterans.  VA’s Make the Connection web page provides real stories from Veterans about issues they have encountered and how they have dealt with them.

And more is being done to reach out to all Veterans to help them find out about VA benefits and services – a good reference for that can be found on http://explore.va.gov

Our Vet Centers make ongoing group counseling available to those Veterans in remote areas nationwide.  In pointing these resources out, this is not to say, however, that problems do not exist; they do, but I am pointing out that comprehensive efforts are now under way to address these issues.

As a result, I believe the real lasting legacy of Vietnam is that never again should America’s soldiers return home to find the people holding them in disdain for fighting for their country.   Separating the service member, soldier and Veteran from the politics of the war is the true, lasting legacy of Vietnam. And it starts with a much appreciated “thank you for your service.”


Image of Bill OutlawBill Outlaw served as a security policeman in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Vietnam in 1970 at Pleiku and Phan Rang U.S. Air Force bases.  He also works at VA’s Veterans Health Administration and is the VHA representative on the Vietnam Commemoration Commission.

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Comments

  1. Thomas Tharp    

    I am a Vietnam veteran,could you tell me how to get one of the lapel pins commerating the vietnam war veteran?……Thank you

  2. Ronald L Drake    

    How do I get my lapel pin. Delete company 3/1 11 LIB Americal division, Duc Pho 1969-1970

  3. WILLIAM KARP    

    This is very nice that we (Vietnam Veterans) are finally being recognized. “Too Little Too Late for the many that survived the war and have passed since returning from the war” One cannot just wipe away the pain and shame we have endured. The only solace we have is when we are with others that were there and “Born The Battle” in the jungles of Vietnam.
    May GOD have no mercy on the ones that scorned us! The only comfort is that many of us served with honor and are proud of it!
    William (Doc) Karp, Combat Medic 3/21st 196th. LIB Vietnam 1967-1968.

    1. Jerry L Hobson    

      Thank you, you said what we think. Brothers are forever.

  4. David Clemmitt    

    I would like to know how the government is going to distribute these lapel pins to all Vietnam Veterans, and Vietnam era Veterans. Will there be a special ceremony at different levels, like local, state? How does one go about to receive this pin?

  5. Donnie Hill    

    What if the Vietnam Veteran or Vietnam Era Veteran can’t make it to D.C.

  6. Thomas    

    After 53 years of being in Vietnam all you want to give us is a little pin well I bought mine and it is in a draw with the rest of the medals I got you want to do something give all the living and the ones who fought your war a real medal like a Purple Heart but being so cheep and you the government
    Lied to the Vietnam Veterans about AO and won’t take responsibility for what you did we’re all still fighting your war!

  7. Howard D. Goettsch    

    Where can Vietnam Vets get there pin if they are unable to attend one of the ceremonies describe in the article?

  8. GEORGE E HOLLAND    

    Does this finally admit that we a Vietnam veteran?

  9. GEORGE E HOLLAND    

    Are we supposed to be able to just be ok now that we were reduced to less than human then?

  10. Sgt R.W. Behrens    

    Sorry, I can’t forget or forgive, with just a simple pin. When I die, bury me face down , so the whole world can kiss my ass.

  11. Michael Chamness    

    I would like to know where and when I will receive my pin, I’m a Navy vet from 1972 to 1983.

  12. Michael A Rossiter    

    When & how are these Pins going to be presented / distributed ?
    1970 to 1974
    USS Midway CVA 41, 1971-1972. (Yankee Station)
    1970 to 1974

  13. Fred Howard    

    I also would like to know how to get a pin even though it is to little to late would still like to get mine

  14. Arthur Doberck    

    How are you going to contact the Vietnam era veterans to get a pins ? Glad I broused around on the web military.com and so the article . The VA has my DD-214 and input me as a Vietnam Era vet in their system .

  15. Bradley Bowman    

    Oh hell no. I already survived Vietnam and being treated like an enemy (“How many women and children did you kill?”) in my own country. Put my pin at the foot of “The Wall”.

  16. Bradley Bowman    

    No thank you. I already survived Vietnam and being treated like an enemy in my own country. “How many women and children did you kill?” I don’t need a pin.

  17. Robert McGrath    

    I agree we were not welcome home. 1969 first tour 1st Cav second tour 101st Airborne.
    My question is does anyone find it bothers you more the older we get or is it just me. I’m the only one left out of all the guys that went from my neighbor hood. It was a crazy time. God Bless
    Oh forgot, please mail my pin.

  18. Jerry Smith    

    Where can we, who are unable to attend one of the ceremonies described in the article, receive a pin?
    Thanks,
    Jerry
    USS Saratoga
    1972-1973 Yankee Station

  19. Charles Carini III    

    Thanks Bill, like you I did security & many volunteer missions, spent the rest of my 4 yrs as a K-9er 64-68. All my thinking after that became protect the Citadel. The blunder of the nation was to buy into defeatist mentality expressed by the no nothing pseudo intellectual. More I rethink the era I’m convinced the war was winnable.
    I was not defeated, my head is high whether or not anyone thinks our lives will be better by being recognized with a national day or with a pin.
    What has encourage me is a changed attitude & more funding to the VA. I never expected such positive treatment. This feeling ovvipies a big portion of my gratitude box. Thank you VA!.
    Hopefully this new awearness will be well spent helping the more current crop of veterans.
    Thanks much
    Charlie Carini & a long dead Belgium Shepard named GUS
    Rifton, NY

  20. Joe Fite    

    I as well would like to receive a Vietnam Veteran Commutative lapel pin. I am unable to attend the local activities where the lapel pins will be offered.

    I have asked who or where I could write to get a lapel pin.

    Please let me how to get the lapel pin.

    Thanks, Joe

  21. Morris l Bishop jr    

    Just where and when can we expect the pin

  22. Gary Stout    

    How does a veteran get his pin? U.S. Navy 69-77YRY5

  23. Luis R Ortiz Jr    

    Just like some of the others, how can I get one of the lapel pins? Thanks.

  24. Thomas L Mealor    

    Let us know ‘How do we get the pin?’

  25. Ernest Nelson Lyon    

    I can’t make it to Washington but would like to know how to go about getting my pin?

  26. Kathleen McElroy    

    I would love to attend the ceremony in DC the end of this month, but, have no way of getting there. I am the surviving spouse of an Army Vietnam Veteran. He passed away in 2011 from Non-Hodgkin Mantle cell lymphoma as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange. Can someone help me out?

  27. George LeMien    

    Will they send us a pin if we can’t make the trip to Washington ?

  28. George LeMien    

    will our local officials get the pin to us ?

  29. Dean J Cooper    

    Will I get my pin like I did my Purple Heart, in the mail? Boy, can’t wait.

  30. William Montgomery    

    Vietnam combat Veteran, Saigon 8/66 – 8/67,Bill Montgomery.
    Great news to hear that Vietnam veterans are remembered.
    What are procedures for obtaining lapel pin.

  31. Denise Boulet    

    As a Viet Nam Era Veteran I also would like a pin
    Thanks

  32. David D    

    Nice article Bill as far as it goes but everybody’s asking about that pin and how they’ll be given out. Yet I see no answers here. -Another Vietnam Veteran still fighting that jungle war in my head.

  33. D. Parkos    

    How do survivors of vets that served during the Vietnam war, receive a lapel pin?

  34. Thomas Clark Pack    

    I was a pilot with HMM-265 (Helicopter Marine Medium) from Jan 68 to Jan 69 in DaNang.
    I guess the pin is better than nothing. Can you mail me one? I’m disabled and can’t make a trip to DC.

  35. John H, Secor    

    I wonder if Bill Clinton will get a pin for going to Canada for his active service?

  36. Gary Hicks    

    The following is from Jack Pilch.

    A group of us (Vietnam Veterans, all) went to the Memorial Service at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma on November 11, 2017. The Memorial Service Program itself justified the trip. Additionally, the recognition and the appreciation given to us Vietnam Veterans was amazing and close to overwhelming, during and after the program as well as unexpected. After the program was concluded, two staff members of the Cemetery (each with a box of pins) passed out the 50th Anniversary Pins to us.

    Fort Gibson National Cemetery has two programs a year, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Those veterans who have not gone to one of these Memorial Services are being delinquent to themselves.

    Jack Pilch (0311)
    USMC 1965-1969
    Vietnam ’65-’66 & ’68

  37. Dave Hoffman    

    I got one when I visited my local VA Outpatient clinic. My doctor just asked if I wanted one. At the time I didn’t know it existed.

  38. JC Woodward    

    I do not profess to speak for other Vietnam Veterans. To me, this will be another failed attempt to say this country cares about us. That hog slop. This has been tried before even back in the eighties, and it failed miserably as the parades were loaded with “poser’s” and even some that never served.
    Today even the new veterans could care less about the old Nam Vets though many of us tried to make their homecoming better than what we received. Again this is just my opinion, but I’d like to see that the only ones who can add their two cents actually served in-country. The rest can find something else to opine.
    Believe Shakespeare still said it best For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition: That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

  39. Thomas Peck    

    I too ask where those of us unable to attend the events where these Lapel pins are being graciously Passed out can receive one .To display one on my Veterans hat or Battalion Jacket would show another way of support .

  40. Daniel Bergstresser    

    The following from Dan Bergstresser

    It seems many Vietnam Veterans hold some to a lot of resentment, and rightly so.
    When returning to the States we were not welcome. Even our own people in the Medical Hospitals discouraged us from help if we weren’t missing body parts. I think they called it “Shell Shocked” and said get over it.
    Then 40 years later we found out it was really PTSD. We fought with PTSD for that long on our own.
    First when again applying for some Medical benefits to help us those 40 + years later we had another battle to fight, Proving we were even there because they couldn’t find our Records. For those of us, like myself, who were fortunate enough to still have some Original Orders to show them, they miraculously found All our records.
    Then the fun began.
    They would categories us and it went like this. Sixty percent for this, Seventy percent for PTSD that they called SHELL SHOCK in 1967. Of course the PTSD Just stared when you applied for it 40 years later, not the many years you suffered with it alone, working it out for yourself not knowing what was wrong with you having out bursts of anger and many other feelings. That still equals only NINTY Percent. Of Course that took many years after being constantly turned down and refilling.
    The other medical conditions you have Fifty percent of are NOT Service Related, EVEN Though they CLEARLY ARE. They add quite differently than the rest of the world. A couple of years later after fighting even more they give you another Twenty percent for another “Vietnam Related” Illness that they original turned down, and guess what that still equals NINTY Percent and no more compensation.
    We fight to get the benefits we earned equaling almost Ten years now and still going. Knowing they are probably waiting for our Demise so they can close your case and go on putting off other waiting for the same thing to happen to them?
    Of course we are angry still having to fight the very same people that put us in this shape to start with.
    BUT I will accept the PIN Knowing that Most People do Thanks us for what we did.
    I was with Kilo Company 3rd Battalion/ Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, 1966-1967. We were all over the I Corps area and 10 months in the Bush before an R&R.

  41. Daniel Bergstresser    

    It seems many Vietnam Veterans hold some to a lot of resentment, and rightly so.
    When returning to the States we were not welcome. Even our own people in the Medical Hospitals discouraged us from help if we weren’t missing body parts. I think they called it “Shell Shocked” and said get over it.
    Then 40 years later we found out it was really PTSD. We fought with PTSD for that long on our own.
    First when again applying for some Medical benefits to help us those 40 + years later we had another battle to fight, Proving we were even there because they couldn’t find our Records. For those of us, like myself, who were fortunate enough to still have some Original Orders to show them, they miraculously found All our records.
    Then the fun began.
    They would categories us and it went like this. Sixty percent for this, Seventy percent for PTSD that they called SHELL SHOCK in 1967. Of course the PTSD Just stared when you applied for it 40 years later, not the many years you suffered with it alone, working it out for yourself not knowing what was wrong with you having out bursts of anger and many other feelings. That still equals only NINTY Percent. Of Course that took many years after being constantly turned down and refilling.
    The other medical conditions you have Fifty percent of are NOT Service Related, EVEN Though they CLEARLY ARE. They add quite differently than the rest of the world. A couple of years later after fighting even more they give you another Twenty percent for another “Vietnam Related” Illness that they original turned down, and guess what that still equals NINTY Percent and no more compensation.
    We fight to get the benefits we earned equaling almost Ten years now and still going. Knowing they are probably waiting for our Demise so they can close your case and go on putting off other waiting for the same thing to happen to them?
    Of course we are angry still having to fight the very same people that put us in this shape to start with.
    BUT I will accept the PIN Knowing that Most People do Thanks us for what we did.
    I was with Kilo Company 3rd Battalion/ Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, 1966-1967. We were all over the I Corps area and 10 months in the Bush before an R&R.

  42. Daniel Bergstresser    

    Its ashamed that our blogs are censored!!

    1. Gary Hicks    

      What censorship would that be?

      1. Thomas R. Goodwin    

        Mr. Hicks,
        The censorship would be simply deleting the comments that are deemed by the powers-that-be to be somehow “un American” or “unacceptable”. These folks have set themselves up to be the latter day patriots who are giving such generous and sacrificial service to the nation. Kinda reminds me of folks like Mr. Cheney who was deferred five times because in his words he “had better things to do” than give service to the nation. I am a three tour infantry veteran of Vietnam. As I have said before, for these people hard times is a power failure or a bad snowstorm, not eating out of a dumpster or tablescraps at McDonald’s or sleeping in a cardboard box. They will move on, secure that they have done their duty.

        1. Gary Hicks    

          Mr. Goodwin,

          Comments are rarely deleted from VAntage Point. Sometimes, I do not approve a comment due to a violation of our social media policy or a privacy violation. When that happens, the person is notified privately by email and given an opportunity to revise their comment. Minor edits are clearly marked with “(redacted)” to remove social security numbers etc. and immediately approved.

  43. James A. Henry    

    Thank You I did receive my Pin. Aug 4, 2017 At an Iowa Day reunion with 26 other Vietnam Veterans and we were warmly received by the group.

    James A. Henry
    Com. Ctr. Specialist
    Sgt. E5 72F40
    USARV Replacement Div.
    Stationed @ Tan Sun Nyut for 7 Mn. & Long Bing for 5 Mn. ending in Jan 1967.

  44. Ted Kalagian    

    To all of you asking where to get a pin if not able to go to DC try contacting your local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter. They should have the pin or be able to get them from the Commemorative Committee.

  45. Bill Braniff    

    You can keep your thanks. You are fifty years too late for me and more for others. Since the protesting hippies of the sixties are now grandparents and their grand babies are serving they now see a need to treat Vietnam Veterans with a modicum of civility.
    Once again, keep it! I don’t want it. I can’t speak for other Veterans but leave me out of your less than gracious thanks. Am I bitter. You betcha I am.

  46. Sgt R.W. Behrens    

    Interesting that no mention of this “ special day “ was ever mentioned on national news. Hmmm, must have forgot. For those who have seen war, we never stop seeing it. We never forget. I wish I could.

  47. David J Guenther    

    We came in @19 and 20 years old. I am 67 now. I am one of the walking dead. I should have been killed May 19 1970. Point man that morning in Cambodia. We all knew it was going to be an ambush. Command from the Colonel ( high altitude in his LOH.), Our company commander, lieutenants, platoon, squad leaders and all rank and file. We were being pursued by a division of NVA who were about a click away from their regiment. ( we were down to 79 guys) I obtained this info on how much we were outnumbered by Officers I spoke to at our reunion last year. The NVA took out all our blasting caps from the claymore mines over night….There was Commo wire all over the area of operations and they were right near our Night Defensive Perimeter a hour before first light. We know this because it stopped raining about a hour before daylight. The rain washes the dirt trail clean if its after the tracks are left. But the numerous tracks were there. In this case we knew they were there and had us figured for an easy ambush as we moved out in the morning. A U shaped ambush. Being first man (point) I knew I was going to die that morning. 100% sure. I did come face to face with a 30.Cal Machine gun with two NVA laying prone. I got the first drop on them until my M16 30 round banana clip double fed. Started pulling pins and tossing frags. They normally are able to wait until 7-10 guys are in their killing zone. They didn’t get the chance that day. I regret but at the same time am grateful we took only one KIA. It was on track to be much worse. I would be ashamed to admit I was wishing I could get out of walking point that day because I knew my life was over. But to this day it is the one thing in my life that I am most proud of. To saddle up and hit the trail… following orders.. even if it meant walking to our death. Command denied a request to use another route. I found out last year how many guys behind were thankful I walked point that day. Little did they know I was as scared as you could be but it was my job and duty to the men behind me and yes… for my County. I have laid awake many nights (to this day) and tears fill my eyes. Not really sure why. I have every reason to be happy that many of my friends and myself made it home. speaking of home… the only people happy to see me were my family. And a razor sharp salute to the F4 Phantom jet pilots. Were it not for them, it likely would have been a route as we were crossed fired on all the way back to the NPD form were I was on the trail. 47v3

  48. Wendell Peterein    

    The politics of the time caused such hate and animosity toward returning vets whether we were boots on the ground Viet Nam vets or not. There’s the Kent State debacle and of course Jane Fonda, our national embarrassment, that contributed greatly.

    But one thing that bothers me most is that a great percentage of “in country” vets do not consider vets like myself whose orders did not include a tour to SouthEast Asia as relevant. My duty as an electrician in a support squadron in MAG-24, Kaneohe Bay and as such was subject to deployment with any squadron heading out. My number didn’t come up but I was there standing in line.

    Some of the combat vets seem to discount the importance of support personnel and their respective roles in service. How well could they have performed without motor transport, plumbers providing clean water and electricians, cooks and armorers, medical personnel and many others.

    Those vets that discount the viability of the millions of “era” vets are little better than those that openly professed hatred towards us upon our return to civilian life. And that’s because they fail to asses any credibility to the “brotherhood” that ALL vets of ALL ages should feel towards one another for having merely done our best to serve our country in whatever way Uncle Sam saw fit whether it was a time of war or not.

    I am a very proud Marine that served from 3/3/71 thru 2/28/75. Because of the way we were treated coming home and because of the unacceptance by the “real” Viet Nam vets I would never wear this pin on my person in life or in death. Nor will I go out of my way to any extent to receive it. Feel free to send mine to a “real” Nam vet…They deserve it more than me. Just ask them.

  49. Sgt R.W. Behrens    

    David Guenther, I too was in Cambodia at that time, with the 1/7 Cav, 1st Cav division. Firefights averaged three or four a day. After every fight,the C.O. Changed directions, and we’d get hit again. When we killed a red Chinese , we had to drag his body out to an open area so the Brass flying in their loach could see to verify the enemy. Yeah, we were teens then. So glad you made it home bro. Wendell, get over it . You weren’t there. You get to live without the memories.

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