Borne the Battle #184: Honoring Vietnam Veterans, MG James T. Jackson


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National Vietnam War Veterans Day is fast approaching (March 29). Army Veteran Major General James T. Jackson (Ret.) is the national director of the Vietnam War Commemoration. Directed by Congress and executed by Department of Defense, the commemoration’s goal is to reach out and thank those–our Vietnam Veterans–that never got a proper welcome home.

Currently, there are over 6.2 million living Vietnam Era Veterans. They deserve a proper thank you for raising their right hand. On this episode of Borne the Battle, Major General James T. Jackson shares the vision and mission behind the efforts of this program and how you can help participate.

Lapel pin

The commemoration seeks to give a lapel pin to each Vietnam Veteran. This small token of appreciation has meant a lot to so many.

Later, Jackson talks about mentors, his time in service, different resources to help Vietnam Veterans, and the stories of healing and reconciliation he has seen as a result.

Why this matters

#BtBattle Veteran of the Day:

Additional Links:

Hayoung Oh is a podcast intern with the VA’s Digital Media Engagement Team. He is currently an undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying Public Health.

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VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Frank Bill    

    I think that all the memos written above were very true and true to heart. As a United States Marine with 1st. Marine Division, 1st Engineer Bn., Hill 3/7 supporting the 0311(Grunts) there. There from 18 Dec.1967 until 03 Jan. 1969. I do support the VA. I am 100% on disability for PTSD. It took 10 to 15 years to get it. I didn’t know at a younger age that there was any help of any kind from the VA or a County Service Officer. Thanks to my 3rd wife I was made to go to see our County Service Officer and he got me started with the VA and got me some disabilty percentages. And so many thanks go out to our newest County Service Officer, former military and female. After giving me some paper work that I needed to file again. She quized me about my claim and asked me if she could take it and I said yes. From there she came up with 18 possible claims and most were Agent Orange related. It took 4 to 5 months to get my 100%. I can’t thank my wife, my Service Officer, and my VietNam Marine Corp. Buddies enough for getting me there.

  2. Kyle Peterson    

    It is pretty upsetting to see so many guys still bitter and struggling. I was just off the coast in ‘72 and had very little to do with the war. I spent two years on Okinawa and was there when Saigon fell in ‘75. After I came back and finished my college degree, I got on a bus to go downtown one day and I saw a woman I had known in high school. She knew I had gone into the Navy immediately after high school and after some dinging around, you might say the conversation went downhill:
    “Did you go to Vietnam?”
    “I was just off the coast in ‘72.”
    “Did you kill anybody?”
    After yelling at her, I said, “No, I didn’t kill anybody – biggest dipshit question there is, and only a dipshit would ask it.”
    “Well, don’t you think that you’re not a real man if you didn’t kill anybody?”
    “No, I don’t think that has anything to do with it.”
    “Is that ‘cause you’re gay?”

    She continued to taunt me for about half an hour, while everyone else on the bus just sat and laughed. I suppose it was kind of ridiculous, yet as she pimped her way through the controversies of the war – POW/MIAs, the bombings, “the atrocities,” Jane Fonda, Cambodia – people just kept laughing, and a couple of times I just screamed at everybody.

    Last year I found her address and drove across state. She didn’t remember me when I pulled up in front of her house and came out to see what I wanted. When I reminded her of our last conversation, her face did some rapid-eye rabbit movement and she ran into her house and called the cops. I put out my sign, which explained why I was picketing her place, and when the cops showed, we had a nice conversation and they said, don’t hurt anybody and I said okay, and they left. I remained for a couple of hours, just to let her neighbors know what she was. It’s a pretty mild form of revenge for what happened, but I hope it stands for everyone who got hassled after they returned.

    I’m glad that I served because of the people I remember. I didn’t have a family when I grew up, like a lot of vets. It is just part of that universal pinball-experience, nearly all of which was outside of our control. I will not be sad today.

  3. S Gene Taylor    

    Viet Nam Vets …. there are fewer and fewer each day. Each one had a story about life and service. Unfortunately, their story about life was sometimes about their service. And it almost always wasn’t a good story.
    Today you see a lot of them wearing baseball caps with their Viet Nam service years and/or branch of service on them. Those hats have only appeared in the past couple or three decades. You did not see them in the 60’s or 70’s. It wasn’t popular to draw attention to yourself back then as a Viet Nam vet.
    That has changed with time. Unfortunately, what hasn’t changed is the hurt that some of those vets still feel. Many feel betrayed by a government that “roadblocked” them at every turn in giving them the proper medical care (both physical health and mental health) they require and deserve. Some have fought a second war all their life trying, and have now passed on. Others are still in a fight for their lives, others have just simply given up.
    The average age for a the Viet Nam vet is early to mid 70’s. An age when they should be enjoying the twilight years of their life. Very few ask to go ten thousand miles from home, and come back not the same as when they left. They did it for a country they thought would do the right thing for them upon their return.
    I consider myself to be one of the luckier ones. My physical wounds have pretty much faded on the outside, and only show up in cold weather or when I walk down the freezer aisle of the grocery store. My emotional/psychological scars ….. well, they have faded also, but like the physical scars, will never completely go away. But I have managed to keep both physical and psychological at bay.
    Other vets have not. During their early years, our country ask them to do a dangerous job. Now those vets are asking our country to do their job.
    – S.G. Taylor
    Medic
    Viet Nam – ’68 -‘69

  4. Pete Ostergard    

    `66-`67, came home to a very ugly United States full of very ugly people. I will never forgive them and I’d like to personally punish the Canada runners and other draft dodgers. You’re lucky I’m just too old and broken to do it. I’m 100% but have been taken care of by the VA. I was fortunate to live 300 miles from SFVA Hospital in San Francisco. Two new shoulders, two new knees and many other fixes. Thanks, VA! You should all be so lucky! Moved to Texas recently and it seems Texans are very proud of all of their Veterans.

  5. Phillip Webb    

    I volunteered in 74 and asked to be sent to Viet Nam to do my part, even if it was to support withdrawal “with honor”. I was not sent to Viet Nam and to this day live with the daily with that regret. I feel I let those who served in country down. During the 70’s anyone who served got the disrespect because the civilians did not discriminate between those who served in country and those who did not. Just being in uniform earned you the s….y treatment and disrespect.

    The VA has diagnosed me with PTSD for other action, but because I cannot relate a specific event that caused it, I cannot be disability rated for it.

    Friends who committed suicide, three years behind “The Wall” in Berlin with the daily threat of being overrun, separation from family for over a year at a time, not of these caused any stress.

    Bottom line, I too hate the treatment of the vets during the era and after. I too try to forgive and forget without success. I have no forgiveness, and very little respect for the PEOPLE of the US, and also have a grave sense of having been lied to about post service benefits like education (Viet Nam Era GI Bill) that expired before I could use it all because I served too long and the VA refusing to rate me 100% for the blown out knees, chronic shin splints, rebuilt (while in service) shoulder that continues to give problems, chronic pain, service connected back injuries with the related pain and so on.

    Sorry for being so long winded, but I feel your pain. Even if I only served in the era and not in country. Some of us suffer too. Thank you for your sacrifices.

  6. ANTHONY BRANDYS    

    WHAT ABOUT THE PRESIDENT CARTER WHO ON THE FIRST DAY OF HIS PRESIDENCY, PARDONED ALL THOSE WHO RAN TO CANADA, TO AVOID THE DRAFT, THOSE WHO ANSWERED THE CALL , AND SERVED AS WE WHERE DRAFTED TO DO!! U.S. DRAFTED RIGHT FROM HIGH SCHOOL, AND DEPRIVED OUR YOUTH, BUT DRAFT DODGERS GIVEN THE HEROS WELCOME.

    TONY
    VIETNAM 67-68

  7. ration    

    I also served, not important
    I was also deployed, not important
    i am also 90% disable, not important…

    THANK YOU for serving and giving me and my family an indescribable life.
    I thank you I know my wife, CPT. Ration, thanks you.
    I know my dad a Sailor, Vietnam Vet, thanks you.
    I know my, Leatherneck uncles, Vietnam Vets, thank you.
    i know my , Jarhead nephew, thanks you.
    i know my son, Jarhead and now with the 1st Cav, thanks you.
    I know my Marine grandfather WWII, Korea Vet thanks you.

    Semper Fi
    &
    This We’ll Defend

  8. richardhamline    

    What a joke my little bitty badge just like I got for good penmanship learning my cursive style writing.
    Ugh what about the implanted memories of the daily wars news coverage of the time and all the protests against the war.
    I was just reaching an appropriate draft age as it’s pulled and ended, though as my heart and love of my country was not the same as appeared by the people doing the protesting. I was young white and naïve that I could change things from the inside. So I enlisted 4 days after my 17th bd with a parents signature.
    War is nothing but to serve old men getting richer and young men dying for that goal. Budgets for blk opps comes from where and when companies get fined where’s the money going?
    Let our government make an official apology of the so called conflict at that time that it was a mistake on it’s part.
    Let each and everyone service connected man or woman as a namVet receive at least a 60% rating as non employable and the results of a broken life never to reach for the brass ring. There wasn’t many that served liken a to senators son prestige with a silver spoon in mouth. Let alone to becoming a president as a rich mans sons draft dodger with shin splints.
    They pass in time as easement of muscle strain, often occurring as a result of running or other strenuous athletic activity, especially on a nonresilient surface.
    Tell me of a serviceperson that doesn’t experience them at first. It takes true grit to press on. The same true grit to receive a class D felony in court proceedings as not able to pay his child support, thus loosing voting and gun rights as many others he served for of our people to having these rights. Then being in the VA system for mental health over twenty+ and fed pills yet requesting he be understood more than the 15 minute widow the doctors sees of what motivates his rage to be unsocial.
    I served for the good nation which separated it seem into two fraction. The peoples side and the military – 3 letter agency side. You couldn’t do enough for US VETs in our remaining time left to live – GOD DMM YOU… Your not the nation I wanted to serve as you matured and forgot me and us all in our prime years.

  9. Victor Ray Sellers    

    I am still glad to be alive, but was deceived for almost 5 full decades, having ALL medical evidence and ALL other benefits intentionally withheld, which is almost unforgivable. I was done dirty in order to hide the effects of Agent Orange Ingestion, and paid the price for the deception all my life after Vietnam. I was hospitalized a month because of the AO ingestion, but withholding my medical records was wrong, and deprived my dependents of benefits as well as myself. It has not yet been corrected, but I still hope for justice in my lifetime. Will I see it?

  10. Victor Ray Sellers    

    I was hospitalized in Vietnam for a month then medivac’d out with a P-3 permanent profile for permanent defects acquired in Vietnam, was non deployable on a world wide scale, with DA3349 signed by four medical officers, and deprived of the “OVER 120 DAYS RECOVERY TIME “ that was ordered in Vietnam. I continued to deteriorate for years, and the Army intentionally withheld ALL of my medical records intentionally, to purposely deny me the evidence for a medical retirement and 100% disability. I didn’t get any benefits or medical treatment records until 2016 due to the Deliberative Process Privilege. Deny, Deny, Deny.

  11. Glen Carpenter    

    I too am a Vietnam/Thailand vet. Was in from ‘67 to ‘78. Could not take it anymore. 90% disabled now with heart disease, asthma, diabetes, neuropathy in both legs, glaucoma, tinnitus and PTSD. VA won’t give me 100%…said I can still work in a sedentary job. I am appealing it, but I think they are just waiting for me to die. Had a heart attack about 2 years ago. Haven’t been able to work for a couple of years now. 71 years old now. Don’t know how long I will last. Memory is failing me. I don’t feel like “Uncle Sam” is doing a very good job at telling me “Thank you got your service”, you know?

  12. Dan Hochstetler    

    Thank you for doing this. All I remember of that era was the people of AMERICA spitting on soldiers and marines coming back from the conflict. A sad state compared to the middle east returnees. That was a sad time in America for anyone serving in the military, either voluntarily or by draft. It was not a pleasant conflict and most didn’t know who and who we were fighting for….except the politicians made money on the war.
    AND, because the military was so messed up, half of my records are missing (how do you lose a half of a folder?) and am having problems with the VA. Of course I can’t find fellow airmen who I served with, which the VA says would help my case.

    Thank you again.
    USAF 1965-1969

  13. Robert L Rudy    

    I served in Viet Nam, 69, 70 and also suffer from PTSD Yes I’ve thought about taking my own life but have been blessed with a good pysch and a damn good therapist. They keep me wanting to live life as I should. Please, if you suffer from PTSD, go to the VA and get help… I go to the Salt Lake City Va

    1. FREDDY BROOS    

      Greetings Robert L R

      I too am from the SLC Utah VAMC. I served in Vietnam in 69 -70-71-72.
      I used to see Dr Martineau and now, no one. I have trust issues, always have, can’t change that. As a fellow vet of a very unpopular war I will always wish you the best of things and blessings. I am glad you are doing well… Wishing you Godspeed

  14. James Ready jr    

    Thank you for honoring the remaining veterans. I served for May 1968 to June 1969.

  15. Gary W McCutchan    

    A small gesture of thanks like a pin is “okay” but …………. I served as “0311” [rifleman] in the USMC for three-years, spent one-year in “I Corp” [Vietnam] and rec’d GSW and shrapnel. Not unlike many infantry Marines/Soldiers, upon my return from Vietnam, I often “hid” my Vietnam/military service from society/folks due to protests, negative public attitudes and so on. When I started college in 1968 I only told a few classmates of my military record.

    I, maybe in my ignorance, don’t know of any U.S. troops who returned from a “war” [i.e., WWI, WWII, Korea, Afghanistan] to such an ingracious, hostile and unwelcoming public.

    What I would like is V.A. to cover the cost of my rotten teeth. I lived in the “jungle” for about 330-days without having “opportunity” to clean my teeth and came home to a mouth full of problems. Those same teeth, that were initially fixed by Navy dentists, continued to have on-going problems through today [age 73]. The V.A. benefits do not cover any of the dental problems I “suffered” as a result of extremely poor dental hygiene on 330-days. Two-days per month were spent in “rear” area to sleep and brush teeth. When “upfront” care of teeth is not all a priority.

    Enough said, I could list several more things that V.A./country could do now to “make-up” for the horrible Welcome Home rec’d by Vietnam vets, especially those that served in front [infantry] units.

    Thank you for your efforts on “our” behalf.

  16. Alton Stone Bledsoe    

    How do I obtain the lapel pin for Vietnam veterans

  17. John W Whitledge    

    I thank you for the award however if you want to award Vietnam veterans with any disability rated you should give them the Purple Heart. The were all injured during their time in Vietnam….

  18. Harry J Rudolph    

    Thank you for honoring the Vietnam Veterans.
    I served from July 1968 to August 1969 – 25th Infantry division 3/22 Inf.

    Thank you!

  19. Floyd L. McKenzie    

    I served in Vietnam 1966-67-69-70-71. I was WIA April 19, 1969. I understand the reason behind honoring the Vietnam Vets but for me it is to little to late. I hope it helps as many as possible. I am 100% permanent and unemployable. I try to deal with what they call PTSD every day. For more than 50 years I have tried hard to deal with the betrayal by the people and Country I served. Nothing can erase or make up for that. Like I said I hope this helps as many as possible. As for me I have no forgiveness for anyone.

    1. Andrew Stark    

      I feel exactly the same way! For years I have tried to “forgive and forget” but at my age I’m not sure I’ll live long enough.

    2. Russell Rice    

      Amen Brother… I feel the way you do. When we returned home we got a kick in the nuts, now they want to give us a jock strap with a cup Viet Nam vet 69-70. I have a 60% disability and I can’t even get a sleep test through the VA for my PTSD.

    3. Melissa Johnson    

      Floyd L. McKenzie
      I’m sorry..
      I don’t have a military background but
      I’m human and I feel your pain.
      Love
      Melissa Johnson

    4. Tanner Iskra    

      Floyd and to every Vietnam Veteran on this thread,

      As a post 9/11, I don’t think I can thank your generation enough. It was a terrible and unfortunate thing that happened when you came home. Good, bad, or indifferent on your opinion on Vietnam, you were asked to go and you went – and you weren’t thanked for the sacrifices that you bore. I don’t know if that can ever be healed for some. I can only imagine how I would feel, but I didn’t, and I can attribute that to how you were treated.

      If there is any solace, know that the cross you bore, allowed my generation to be acknowledged and thanked the way we are. I don’t know if veterans today would be acknowledged and treated the way we are without what you endured. It taught the country an important lesson to never treat our service-members that way again.

      I know your heart and mind go back to the days you came home, but please know that our generation sees you as heroes, and we can’t thank you enough for the cross you had no choice but to bear.

      – Tanner

  20. Robert Bodell    

    Thanks for doing this for us. VietNam ’67,’68,&69.

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