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The Vietnam War was a long and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against the government in South Vietnam. America, South Vietnam's principal alley was involved in the war from 1955 until 1973.
Our Veterans Deserve Respect and Compassion by Jack Kerfoot
American opposition to the war grew from small groups of pacifists to a national movement. The anti-war movement resulted in outward in an outpouring of hate toward the returning veterans. I vividly recall being spit on and being called a baby killer by protesters in an airport, as I was returning home from the war.
Many veterans returned from Vietnam with physical and/or mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Every veteran dealt with the war in their own way. I put all my energy into my studies at university and put my Vietnam War experiences in the dark recesses of my mind.
Many Vietnam veterans, never recovered from the war. Some withdrew from society and lived on the streets. Others succumbed to drug or alcohol addiction. The real tole of the war far exceeded the 58,200 names on the Vietnam War Memorial.
Veterans today, receive a much different response from the public. "Thank you for your service" is the catch phrase most people say to the men and women in the military. Although the words, thank you for your service bring joy to my heart, I think only a veteran can fully appreciate the sacrifices our men and women in the military make every day to keep our country free.
I have lived and traveled extensively overseas. America has its problems, but the freedoms many people take for granted are because of the sacrifices made by the men and women in our military. The next time you see someone in the military or a veteran, think about the freedoms you have and then say, "thank you for your service." That person may be a newly commissioned officer or a weary old Vietnam veteran, living on the streets.
Our military and our veterans deserve our respect and our compassion. Our city of Portland should support viable programs that will help our veteran's safety and comfort.
This article was reprinted with permission from Jack Kerfoot. Jack is a candidate for Portland Commissioner.
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