And, honor them today, tomorrow and every day
When I returned from my second Vietnam tour in 1969, I was greeted by war protestors in the San Francisco airport. I still remember the feeling as I walked down the long corridor from the plane to baggage claim. Those of us in uniform were yelled at, spit upon, and called all kinds of names including, “warmongers” and baby killers.” It was a rude awakening and not the kind of ‘welcome home’ we were looking forward to.
Fortunately, on my second leg, the pilot walked up to me when I first found my seat and asked if I wanted to move up to First Class. I had never flown First Class before and it was quite the experience. I felt honored and the food sure was great.
My brother, Don, who was a Korean veteran, picked me up at the airport. He took me to an American Legion post for a drink. When I walked in, my brother embarrassed me by announcing that I had just returned from Vietnam. I was immediately surrounded by WWII and Korean veterans asking questions, thanking me for my service, and buying me drinks. I felt pretty special.
We then drove to my home town and my brother took me to the VFW post. As we entered, he again announced that I had just returned from Vietnam. And, once again, I was surrounded by other veterans. It was a great feeling to be supported, but I couldn’t shake that initial feeling of being hated by the protestors in San Francisco.
Fortunately, our returning veterans today are not experiencing anything like those of us who returned from Vietnam. Yet, many soon discover that returning into society is often difficult and not very rewarding.
I don’t believe we do a good job of helping our veterans reorient into civilian life. These men and women should be honored and rewarded for their service to our country. They, along with their families, have sacrificed so much and deserve more because of what they have given.
I am not a person who believes in all the entitlement programs that are available today. That being said, I do not think we do enough for our veterans and their families. And, we, as citizens, employers, managers, and owners, could definitely do more. So, please, …