Letter: Vietnam vet says better late than never
TO THE EDITOR: The year 1968 was not good for me. Spilled some blood. Saw and experienced stuff I wish I hadn’t. Lost some friends.
Coming home wasn’t much better. Cursed, screamed and spit at. Never a word of thanks for our service. No heroes were we.
I thought I had left Vietnam. As time marched further away from that year, I remembered things I thought I had forgotten.
On Aug. 27, a week after my 67th birthday, I took part in the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Parade” at the Minnesota State Fair. I couldn’t see clearly as my eyes filled with tears. I wore a Purple Heart/ Vietnam Veteran cap and no one screamed, cursed or spit on me as they had 45 years earlier. I just want to say thank you.
For last four years, I’ve been going to the VA hospital for treatment of PTSD and related depression. I want to thank everyone who stood with me through my struggles — those who wouldn’t let me give up.
I now go to the Minneapolis VA Community Resource and Referral Center. They have a program called Veterans Bridge to Recovery (a psycho/social rehabilitation and recovery program) which I attend regularly. Even though I might not be able to be fixed, I am learning how to better manage my mental illness to have a better quality of life.
To my dear wife Julie: For all the family activities you went to without me, for all the times I ran from the doorbell or telephone ring, for all the hours I spent locked in the basement, for all the times I refused to talk with friends or neighbors, and especially for all the hours of sleep you lost – holding and comforting me, I just want to say my heart belongs to you.
Maybe I’m almost home.