The Vietnam Generation is beginning to fade…

Swift boats on patrol lead a group of monitors and armored landing craft. (public domain image)

The Vietnam Generation of an estimated 8 million military service members of the Vietnam era, 1964-1975, is fading.

Unlike the veterans of WWII, the Vietnam Generation “aren’t going to be around a long time, not like their fathers.” Soldiers of WWII had closure; they arrived home as heroes. Not so for their sons; their desire and hope to return home alive, to the country that they loved and fought for was met with hate and ridicule.

“For the Vietnam vet, there was never an end point, psychologically,” Wilson said. “So the impact of war continued long after the shooting stopped.”

For over forty years, the Vietnam Generation has suffered, and many in silence. Now, as the visage of this era pass away it is a bittersweet testimony, of our nation, our history and our servicemen/women.

“It’s not a good feeling” watching them pass, Vasil said. “It’s an emotional numbing, almost the same as the combat experience. The only way to survive is to become numb, because you feel so helpless.”

According to the article (2010), in the past three years “…the number of Vietnam vets seeking treatment from the VA has gone up 25 percent nationally, about 10 percent locally, and the largest category of that treatment is for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Dr. Edgardo Padin-Rivera, chief of psychological services at the Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.”

Vietnam veterans are reaching a point in their lives where they may be retired, losing the past support systems of family and friends, susceptible to depression and prime candidates for late-onset PTSD, Padin-Rivera said.

 

…As an increasing number of Vietnam vets make that final march, some look back on what their generation is leaving behind.

 

Their legacy.

 

To Carter, it’s difficult looking back. “Sometimes the thing that distresses me most is that we put forth all that effort and it seems like nobody appreciated it,” he said.

 

“We championed the PTSD issue, the Agent Orange issue and the POW/MIA issue,” he said. “You can change things. But you have to be willing to work at it.”

 

On a personal level, he said the experience “made me a much stronger person, a more caring person and opened my eyes to the horrors of war.

 

It’s not all Hollywood crap. It’s a very scary, horrible place to be.

 

“But if you can survive that,” he added, “you can survive anything.”

 

Except time.


IMAGE: Fast Patrol Crafts (PCF, Swift boat) operating up a river in Vietnam, in background Monitors and Landing Crafts, late 1960s, Naval War College Museum, USN, public domain, used with permission.

Article Source: Cleveland.com: “Vietnam generation begins to fade as death rate rises for war’s veterans” by Brian Albrecht