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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
Letter of the Day

‘We, the veterans of Vietnam, deserve respect”

Published:

I noted Howard Altman’s column (“Nonprofit group vows enduring support for wounded soldiers,” Metro, May 12) with trepidation because everything you read or see, especially about the benefits for wounded warriors, is focused on the post-9/11 veterans. Everyone seems to forget we fought a violent war in Vietnam that cost us over 58,000 lives. Imagine not only the loss of 58,000 lives, but the change this caused wives and other family members.

Then, consider that in Vietnam we had 304,000 Americans wounded — of which I was, twice. Vietnam had over one-half million fighters committed to the war.

I also read about a study that reflected each Vietnam veteran had over 270 days of combat, and the post-9/11 veteran averaged seven days. The Marines I was with were involved in over 300 combat patrols. Imagine the fear and terror these men faced daily! There are no statistics that I know of about how many suicides were related to the war.

Also of importance is the fact that the American public largely turned its back on all returning warriors, and still does. Except for that black wall in Washington, D.C., it would remain totally forgotten. We were never received and called “The Greatest Generation.” We were “baby killers,” etc.

Which brings me to my point: We, the veterans of Vietnam, deserve respect and understanding that we also fought for our country, and deserve recognition!

When we returned there was no Wounded Warrior foundation to take us in. There was nothing. The term PTSD did not exist, and still doesn’t unless a veteran goes to a VA medical center and asks for help.

I had been back over 40 years when I ran into a doctor who diagnosed me and sent me to see a psychiatrist, who after 10 minutes of talking told me I had PTSD and started treatment. I, like many, suffered for 40 years with all the symptoms, and still do. The medication works slightly.

I have a comrade who was in my platoon who was severely wounded. He lost an eye, a big part of his leg and only has partial use of his arm. No one has invited him on a bicycle weekend. Oh, he has rehabilitated himself as much as possible and has a 4 golf handicap, regardless of his wounds.

Please don’t forget those who fought for this country before it was popular to help veterans (post-9/11), be seen in TV ads, throw out the first pitch at ballgames and generally be politically correct supporting post-9/11 veterans.

Kenneth Frederickson, USMC (Ret.)

Palm Harbor

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