Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans, March 29

On March 6, 2014

It took a long time, but a little over a decade ago, a gentleman named Jose Ramos is said to have started the ball rolling on “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Meant to be an annual recognition to all those men and women who served our country during the Vietnam War, it’s long overdue.


While growing in popularity and importance to cities, towns, state houses, communities and families across the United States, the Welcome Home Vietnam Day is serving many purposes. Mainly I think it serves as a day that “official” America can put out the “Welcome Home” mat in a way that didn’t happen during the war.

Why now? So long after these men and women came home?  I think it’s because of what Ed Allen got it right, ”It was we, the Vietnam Veterans, who swore that no other generation of veterans would return to what we did, and none have.”


After their return from war, these Vets took up their places in society — raised families, built careers and businesses, served in elected office, voluteered in the community, and remained associated at veterans.  In those roles, they made sure that younger generations of warriors came home to the right kind of welcome.

And FINALLY, respect for military service has grown so much that it is extending to the Vietnam Vets who vowed to build that respect for others.  They are, at last, tasting the fruit off the trees they planted. A half-century after President Kennedy committed the US to the fray, President Obama proclaimed March 29th to be Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in the United States.

Welcome Home!

What Vietnam Veterans have to say about it, and what will come from it

We surveyed the Vietnam Vets who are part of the MyServicePride family.  Here’s a sampling of what they told us:

“It’s about time.”

“Long overdue.”

“Too little, too late.”

“Where was it 45 years ago?”

These are common sentiments expressed by a generation of soldiers who were not welcomed home with open arms, Vietnam veterans. Rather, after finally returning home after their tour of duty in the hostile Vietnamese jungles, they were met with a different type of hostility in the States. Protesters who had opposed the government’s decision to go to war directed their misguided anger at soldiers who had simply answered their call to serve our country. There is no doubt that the war was complicated in every sense of the word.

When you are in the midst of the chaos and debate, it is tougher to see where the true injustices are being done.  At the end of the war, the unspoken agreement between soldiers and civilians seemed to be to pretend the war had not happened. Being forced to repress memories, emotions, and deep psychological wounds was the most common way for Vietnam veterans to move on with their lives. Decades would pass before the dust would settle enough to see what had happened.

Welcome Home Veterans Day is not intended to be a simple welcome home parade. It carries many different meanings and serves many different purposes.

One Vietnam veteran writes, “I think it just opens up old wounds. I’ve made peace with the loss of life and limbs for nothing.” Some veterans feel that guilt or shame fueled the creation of this day. Maybe they’re right.  The day does seem to carry the undertones of a late apology. However, the grassroots movement that started in a Californian town made it all the way to the White House. That is a true testament to the widespread gratitude for our veterans.

The American people have recognized the grave injustice that Vietnam veterans endured. The Vietnam war was one of the most gruesome wars in the history of the world, and yet these veterans returned to a country that largely ignored their pains and scrutinized their actions. This is hard for younger generations to imagine because things have changed. Civilians may not always be able empathize with our military. We lead different lives. But there is a growing truth that authentic gratitude and respect is beneficial for our future as a country.

There is no doubt that this day brings forth the full spectrum of opinions. This day brings to a light a shameful time for a Nation that claims to be united. Hopefully, this day will help remove the taboo and protect our past, present, and future soldiers from this type of misguided scrutiny and persecution. Perhaps, you disagree. We hope that you are able to some type of resolution in another way. Our nation has come a long way since the Vietnam War. We cannot change the past, but we can learn and grow.

“I think the project is a good one as many of my Brothers have yet to be welcomed home.” stated Edward D. Allen. “My primary concern is with those who came home missing limbs and badly wounded. Today, we have “Wounded Warriors” project, but nothing has been done for the Vietnam Veteran who came home to a disrespectful public, an incompetent VA and families who were so overwhelmed that the vet was placed in a Veteran’s home or worse. While I returned from Vietnam in April ’67 and was medically retired, I “came home” at the DC parade in November ’82. It was we, the Vietnam Veterans, who swore that no other generation of veterans would return to what we did, and none have.”

Footage from the November 1982 Parade and Vietnam War Memorial Event in Washington, D.C mentioned by Edward D. Allen (Above)

“I’m a Vietnam vet, and my oldest brother US Army S/Sgt Byron H. Bushay was killed in action 4 Nov 66. This is way over due! CARRY ON!!”  Paul Bushay.

Facts from the Vietnam War

There were 8,744,000 US Troops who served worldwide during the Vietnam War, with 2,594,000 serving directly in South Vietnam.   Our nation lost 58,000 US Armed Service members with more than 300,000 wounded during the Vietnam War.   Learn more about the Vietnam War and historical timeline.

A Commemorative design for 2014

Matt Massie designed this Commemorative for Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, 2014.  The text frames the three awards that veterans would have received for duty in country (including Laos, Cambodia and Thailand).

  1. The National Defense Service Medal was awarded in different eras, beginning with the Korean War.  The period of eligibility coinciding with the Vietnam era began with Executive Order 11265, dated 11 January 1966, amended Executive Order 10488, to include a termination date and authorized the Secretary of Defense to establish periods of eligibility subsequent to 31 December 1960. Eligibility for award, commencing with the period after 31 December 1960, was established by DOD Directive 1348.7, dated 1 April 1966, and terminated effective 15 August 1974, per letter from Manpower and Reserve Affairs, subject: Termination of Eligibility for the National Defense Service Medal, dated 30 June 1974.
  2. The Vietnam Service Medal was awarded to members of the United Stated Armed Forces who served at anytime from July 4, 1965 to March 28, 1973 in Vietnam or its contiguous waters or airspace. Also awarded for service during the same time in Laos, Cambodia, or Thailand, their airspaces and in direct support of operations in Vietnam.
  3. The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal was awarded to US Armed Forces Service members who served for at least 6 months between March of 1961 and March of 1973, or who met one of several other qualifications.

Build Your Rack

All three of these awards are in the MyServicePride.com Ribbon Rack Builder, along with all other federal awards and devices, most badges, UN and NATO, many foreign awards, and most National Guard awards.

Are you a Vietnam War Veteran?  Or do you know someone who is?  Build your rack to visually display your service.

8 thoughts on “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans, March 29

  1. David

    Just wanted to say Thank You!
    When I returned home from then Gulf war in 91 it was amazing how many Vietnam vets were ready to show me how to get the help I needed from the VA.
    I owe the Vietnam vet my life, for with out them leading the way, I would have never been able to wade through the red tape and the frustration of trying to learn a system in my condition.
    Now I am 60% service connected and my family and I have something of a future.

    With Respect
    Sssgt David Hill
    Desert Storm 90-91

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  3. Robert Johnston

    Happy to hear you feel how you do, however, Korean is still “The Forgotten War: We never had any Welcome Home either. No one I met even knew there was a War on, yet we had over 8000 MIA’s in THREE YEARS and 53,000 KIA’s which was not even the Half of it, 35 other countries also have men missing and killed. Today the Media talks about WWII and then Nam, skipping over the Korean Veterans the MAJORITY of times when they mention war. We will never forget, neither will the families of those who were killed or still MIA’s . . . Will

  4. Charles Lewis

    As a Vietnam veteran this subject has been a thorn for the last forty years or so for me. We as members of the US military were given the present of defeat by our government. We, a force that gave our country countless battlefield victories came home in quiet shock. Vilified by the press, hated by the propagandized portion of the populous and pitied by our greatest generation parents. Many of us have had a hard time…..many of us have excelled, maybe because of our circumstances. To me, I need no welcome home. My family & friends have done that many years ago. I have made it my responsibility to pay it forward with our children & grandchildren who now man the wall for a government that can be a fickle master……All we ever needed was each other anyway. From those who served to those who serve now…..Thank you my brothers & sisters
    CW Lewis

  5. Norman Karaszewski CMSGT RET

    Thank You to all my brothers who served. We needed this day. I almost felt ashamed of my country when I returned home from Vietnam. It was like I did something wrong because I was serving my country.

  6. Eugenia Nixon

    As a female civilian volunteer in Vietnam 1968 – 1969 with the American Red Cross, these were 365 days working in the most important event of my generation. Only 627 “Donut Dollies” served in Vietnam. I followed Wabash, Indiana, resident
    Lucile Craig, in World War I, and Elizabeth Richardson, Mishawaka, Indiana, in World War II, both serving in England and France. (Elizabeth A. Richardson is one of only three females buried in the American Cemetery in Normandy.)

  7. Manuel I Valle

    Finally got to see the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC, took 44 years, met other Vietnam Vets we shook hands, cried a little, asked where we were, it really felt like I had been in touch with them since I been out. We will never forget even though our country forgot able us, wounds will never be healed, we were disrespected not knowing why, I received no help when I finally gave in that I needed help for alcoholism, I went to VA Hospital in Westwood, explained that I need help and was told that because I was sober that I would have to come in drunk and crawling, I did not Mad at the world, I am fine now. These parades they try to give us meant nothing t really was to late, now they are just starting to really know what Agent Orange did to most of us if not all, We still have many Vets that are homeless, family have left them, they need to be helped before they die a lonely Vet. Maybe two cities n the last 10 years have dedicated a homeless shelters (apartments) but when you only have 40 or so rooms it does not help, the city I live in dedicated one of these but all who resided in then maybe 3 percent actually left this city to fulfill there duty in Vietnam, rest were given to others, please take care of your own vets first, they left your city now welcome them back no mater how there situation is. Welcome Home to all Vietnam Veterans.

  8. Reid Sprague

    I served in Swifts out of Qui Nhon in ’66-’67. I had a pretty lucky war, given what could have happened, and did happen, to some of the guys I served with. But looking back, the real trauma – long, drawn-out, and so slow that you wouldn’t even recognize it as trauma – was in coming home.

    I returned to a hometown that didn’t know what to think of us veterans. It wasn’t that anyone spit on us or treated us disrespectfully – just the opposite. But in that little Indiana town, “Vietnam veteran” had come to mean a guy who, in spite of praiseworthy service to his country, might be just the least bit flaky – maybe not a guy to entrust your business to, at least not at first. If somebody knew you, and gave you a chance, well and good. But our fellow townsmen’s default view of us Viet vets was one of caution.

    I attended a hiring seminar at the IU/Purdue extension in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where one guy advised me to “not bring it up” that I’d served in Vietnam, at least not early in the hiring process. “Let ‘em get to know you first,” he said, “so they won’t judge you by the stereotype.”

    I certainly wasn’t ashamed of my service; but I did internalize that advice, and for decades afterward I scarcely spoke of, and finally seldom thought of, the war. I had plenty to do, raising a family and building a career. The rest of the country seemed to have moved on, so I did too. But there was a void there.

    It was just a few years ago, in my mid-60s, that I began to want to take the whole thing out and start making sense of it. I joined the Swift Boat Sailors Association and began to talk with other guys who’d served as I did. A lot of memories came flooding back, and it’s not too much to say that it has changed my life. So I welcome the 50th anniversary focus, and also the “Rolling 50′s” taking us through each year of the war.

    War is complicated, and no war can be fought “cleanly” – there is always a lot of collateral damage, too many friendly fire casualties, and a lot of regret. Unfortunately, that obvious fact seems to be forgotten by each new generation, so a fresh batch of stupid pols send a fresh batch of patriotic kids off to some new conflict, only to have their noses bloodied on the same old realities.

    You do have to fight some wars, and we should never shrink from fighting for your country WHEN IT IS NECESSARY. But – especially in these day of no draft – those Congressmen in suits need to remember that us guys in uniform are the ones who will do the bleeding and dying. They’re writing checks with their mouths that others will have to cash with their own bodies. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, and too often it has been.

    So I’m glad to remember the Vietnam war today, and it’s given me much food for thought. Thanks to all of you who’ve kept the memory alive while I’ve been keeping my head down. I appreciate it!


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