Vietnam Stories: Give us the care we need

For the Monitor
Friday, October 06, 2017

This is an open letter to the Vietnam protesters.

I am a Vietnam veteran. After attending the preview and discussion of the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick film at the Red River Theater in Concord, as well as spending the time to watch the whole film, I have come to a simple conclusion. To quote Lincoln, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

One thing that has always caught my attention was the protesters asking to be forgiven for the mistakes concerning the treatment of the vets coming home. They say that only a small part of them treated us bad and while that was wrong, they say please remember that “we were just kids like you.”

When I came back I wasn’t just a kid anymore. I was nothing like you. I saw a beautiful country torn apart by both sides of a war that could have been right or wrong for the right reasons or the wrong ones.

I am not going to get into all the differences between the protesters and the vets except to say this. You tarred us with a very big brush way outside the lines and want us to paint you very carefully inside the lines?

I have news for you. The vocal bunch tarred you also in a lot of people’s minds. I know a Marine who was severely wounded and when they flew him back and took him off the plane on a stretcher they had to put a plastic sheet over him so he wouldn’t get hit by the people who were spitting at the wounded. He couldn’t understand it.

I worked at the state hospital and had to be very careful not to mention Vietnam service because who wants a “crazy vet” to be taking care of other folks with psychological problems. I actually had some people say that all of us had no right to work there. We should be fired and admitted. I kept my mouth shut.

If you really, really believe that what you were doing was only against the war and not the vets, and that includes those who “made mistakes as kids do,” then help the vets.

Get your protest shoes back on and go protest the government. Get them to give us a full service hospital here in New Hampshire and run it properly. Make them fix the Veterans Choice program so it can be used. And most of all, protest the treatment they give us when we ask for benefits that are due to us. Instead, they make us fight for years and years to get them.

Consider yourself lucky as I hope you never have to deal with PTSD, Agent Orange, bullet and shrapnel wounds and all the nightmares and other things that go with war.

Stand with us and help those you say you wanted to help bring home and save. Help get the care we need.

Gary Gordon lives in Concord.