The Plight of the Vietnam Veteran

This letter to the editor, written in 1986 by my dad’s friend and fellow Bravo Company “Sky Trooper,” sadly still resonates today. Below are excerpts of that letter.

“Vietnam veterans and nation still recovering”

Last week this letter came to me in the mail. And, though it was addressed to me, clearly it was written to you, too – to all of us. So I wanted you to see it:

            “I have been following [this] column on the situation of the Vietnam veteran. It is encouraging to know that there are a few who still consider his plight. Continue reading

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Veterans and Community Service

U.S.

There was absolutely no way Ian Smith was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. He was sure of it.

He was O.K. He was living with his girlfriend in a suburb of Nashville working three jobs — mowing lawns, delivering pizzas, cleaning a local church. He was carrying a 4.0 average at Volunteer State Community College. Yes, he’d seen some terrible stuff during two tours in Iraq. But others had been through much worse. He’d never been wounded. He was alive.

But it was a strange sort of alive. He lived on his couch, with his pistol. He didn’t sleep much. The only way he could get to sleep was by getting drunk, so he got drunk every night and slept with his gun under the pillow. He had gained 60 lb. since leaving the Army in February 2009. He drank more and more. His girlfriend left him. He put the gun…

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U.S. Army C-rations

My dad brought back his C-rations and each packet still contains its original contents. Matches Package reads: These matches are designed especially for damp climates. But, they will not light when wet, or after long exposure (several weeks) to very damp air. D.D. Bean & Sons, Jaffrey, NH

C-ration matches

C-ration matches

The C-ration packet below has the following words imprinted on it: Accessory Packet: Cigarettes; Matches; Chewing Gum; Continue reading

Of peace on earth, goodwill toward men

Here is a Christmas card the soldiers were issued that they used to send home to friends, family, and, in this case, a friend’s family:

xmas062

The preprinted portion inside the card reads: May the Peace and Happiness of Christmas be yours today and throughout the New Year from The First Team.

xmas2063

For more on Christmas in Vietnam:

Please watch the following youtube video which is a collection of photos captured by American soldiers who served in Vietnam and depicts how they celebrated the season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX-OWGxuIwM

And of course Bob Hope’s 1967 USO Christmas Special from Saigon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzOsLRT7d5c

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!