Did you know March 29, 2015 was Vietnam Veterans Day??? What?!??? You did not know? Why didn’t the news media share this information? Good question which I do not have the answer!
I confess, I have a special place, bonded tightly within my heart for Vietnam Veterans; after all, my husband is a Vietnam Veteran. I am extremely proud of him. Well, on most days. Returning home from Vietnam, I noticed his temperament was intense. His jealousy grew. There were times when he noticed a man looking at me and he glared, then asking in a most arrogant mannerism, “What the Hell are you looking at?” During those times, I wanted to crawl into the floor and hide. I recognized the gentle, caring man I married and waited on while he was in Vietnam, was not the man I was married to now. That man was still in Vietnam.
Looking at my husband, I saw a man with emptiness in his eyes. While visiting his parents, we knocked on the door of their trailer. His mother opened the door, managing to say, “Oh…You’re here.” We entered the trailer, awaiting hugs and kisses. His mother sat down at the kitchen table, lighting another cigarette. Never did she or his father show any emotion of gratitude for his homecoming. No special meal. No reunion…NOTHING! Strange. When I asked my husband if his parents always reacted with such a frigid demeanor his reply was a simple, “It don’t mean nothing.” The phrase “It don’t mean nothing,” now rang inside my head constantly.
I suppose emotions such as those awaited many Vietnam Veterans. Over the years, I grew afraid of my husband, especially when his jealous rages exploded. I withdrew. Rarely made friends. And if I was away from our home, my husband would phone everyone he knew, including retail stores I shopped at, until — he found me. I was quickly becoming a prisoner inside my own home.
In 2001, my husband played golf with a Vietnam Veteran. I do not know what happened on the golf course, but when he got home, he made a comment I never expected. “Some of the guys think I have PTSD,” he said.
“Think?” I responded…”I KNOW you have PTSD.”
“What makes you think that?” He asked, moving closer to me. My body flinched.
“Your temperament. Impatience. Anger. Jealousy. The rages you get and how you treat me. You’re not nice when that monster gets in your eyes.”
My husband simply walked away. No discussion. No communication.
I knew the warning signs of PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After all, I was living with a man who brought it home from Vietnam.
Vietnam Veterans Deserve…
I find it interesting and extremely sad that the media does not share stories about Vietnam Veterans Day. Listening to the news yesterday, I expected to hear something about it, but did not. My husband and I know many Vietnam Veterans. When I greet them, I always say, “Thank you for your service and Welcome Home.” I’ve seen these veterans choke up at times. I suppose they are getting a bit of relief now about how America treated these Veterans when they returned. One of my neighbors, no longer a part of our neighborhood since she moved, actually told our son that, and I quote, “Your daddy is a baby killer.” Then, she spat in my son’s face. He rushed home. Tears streaming down his face. When I hugged him he told me what he experienced from this neighbor.
“I’ll be right back,” I said. “You stay here.” No doubt my seven-year-old son knew where I was going. Knocking on her door, she refused to answer. My knock grew harder. “I’m not leaving until you open this door,” I shouted. The door opened.
“How could you,” I said in a calm voice. “You called my husband a baby killer to my son.”
“That’s what he is,” she said. Her hair was long and stringy. She wore a loose caftan, reminding me of a hippy.
“How dare you to be so cruel. My husband fought in a war for your freedom. It’s a shame that you have the ability to express what others say. It’s a shame you were not fighting a war. But maybe you are…with your drugs, alcohol and fast life. Don’t think the neighborhood doesn’t know about you. You neglect your child and you are always strung out from something you shouldn’t be doing. Your house smells of marijuana. Maybe that’s the style of life you choose…and you can only do it here, alone in your home. You should be thanking the Veterans for your freedom, not wasting it away…”
I spun on my heel and walked away. Never did I see her again.
Yesterday, March 29, 2015, I would like to wish all of our Vietnam Veterans a profound Welcome Home, and Thank you for your service. While it isn’t easy to live a life with a Veteran, I am still very proud that my husband and I weathered the storms in our marriage, and we chose to work through the difficult times…and there were many. Nights of fitful sleep. Nightmares. Days and nights of reassuring him that I loved him and wanted to work through the difficulties. While in therapy, I told my husband and the therapist that the reason I had the strength to place things in perspective and to ‘work it out’ because I still remembered how difficult and alone I was while he was in Vietnam. Newly married, three months later, he flew away to Vietnam, on Thanksgiving Day. Our First Thanksgiving Day. A day I could not give thanks!
Here’s to You — The Vietnam Veterans
Perhaps it has become easier for both of us to become closer again after we reunited with my husband’s platoon. Every fall the 9th Infantry Division, Commo Platoon, have a reunion with the guys and their wives/loves/significant others…I must say, within this group is some of the kindest, most caring, loving people I have ever met. Never do I hear of anyone ridiculing the others, nor do they gossip and criticize others. Isn’t that amazing? We’ve attended just a few of these reunions. My husband is not retired. He finds himself happiest while at work, so there are many times when we cannot travel. Nevertheless, we still hear from all of these ‘bands of brothers’. I appreciate each and everyone of them.
So, to you, the Vietnam Veterans, I do hope your Vietnam Veterans Day was a happy one. I salute all of you, and I thank you for your service. Welcome Home Soldiers. You deserve the best.
http://wtop.com/tag/welcome-home-vietnam-veterans-day/ According to this site, ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Vietnam veterans are getting some long-delayed appreciation in Maryland. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is signing a bill Monday making March 30 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Perhaps soon all of the leadership in America will recognize our Vietnam Veterans.
WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VETERANS…THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY!