March 29th is designated as Vietnam War Veterans Day, during which communities across the country celebrate and honor those who served in the longest conflict in United States history.
You may wonder, why is there a specific day in memoriam for these veterans?
Well, due to high levels of political tension and upset surrounding the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, there was not a high level of support for those who returned from service. When these veterans came back home, they were not commonly viewed as heroes and were met with societal silence. They were expected to remain quiet and reintegrate without any homecoming or assistance. Years later, these Vietnam veterans are receiving their gratitude owed, with other veterans expressing their thanks for these men and women. “It’s due to the Vietnam Vets that we’re able to get to hear those kind words when we come back.”
Our program accepts veterans from all service eras, including those who served in Vietnam. We asked some of our veterans what it means to honor a veteran’s service on Vietnam War Veterans Day.
How do veterans feel when you say thank you?
Many veterans feel as though they were simply completing a job and doing their duty, regardless of whether they enlisted or were drafted.
When asked, some veterans in our program said:
“I feel blessed when the public says thank you, and I think it’s more amazing when you see children respecting the military.”
“I used to feel a little shy, awkward, or embarrassed when thanked, but eventually I started saying ‘it was my honor to serve.’”
“I always appreciate when someone genuinely thanks me for my service.”
What do veterans wish were different?
Many veterans wish that children were taught to respect the military and America more. Today, our rights and freedoms are often taken for granted. Many veterans have gone through the struggles of war, including the culture shock of integrating into a new country.
With that being said, take a moment to remember some of the holidays America gets off. Take that time to tell your children why we get to spend the day away from work and school. There’s more to those holidays than BBQ’s and hanging out with friends.
What else can civilians do to support veterans?
There are several ways that you can help honor veterans for their service, many of which encourage you to be an active member in your community.
- Research current efforts that support veteran services and benefits. Pay attention to local legislature! You will find that there are bills and community hearings that influence the veteran population where you live.
- Support veteran-centric organizations and businesses in your area. Here is a list of ideas and causes to support (and maybe volunteer for!):
- Habitat for Humanity
- Local food pantries
- Suicide Prevention Hotlines
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- National Veteran Suicide Prev. Hotline: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
- Crisis TextLine: Text “HOME” or “HELLO” to 741-741
- Veteran Transportation
- MT Mental Health Services
- Service Dog Organizations
- Honor Flight
- Placing flags in a cemetery on veteran holidays
- Montana Supporting Military
- Shop from veteran owned businesses
- Assist a homeless veteran
- Visit veterans in a retirement facility
This article is just a peak into what some veterans need in terms of support following deployment and service. Thank you to our veterans who provided their thoughts and feelings to create this post. If you have any other resources in mind or wish to comment on the topic of honoring our service women and men, please let us know. And from all of us at Dog Tag Buddies, thank you.
-Dog Tag Buddies Staff