Lessons from Vietnam as applied to Afghanistan and Iraq:
#2. Honor veterans when they return; honor the soldiers while they serve. One of the great errors of Vietnam was the failure to hold parades for returning soldiers. Regardless one’s views of the war, or its justness, or its execution, the soldiers who served deserved thanks, kudos, and a warm welcome back. They also deserved top-notch medical care for their injuries, physical and mental — Bob Dole, John McCain, Daniel Inouye, John Kennedy and others stand as monuments to what returned veterans can do for the nation when welcomed back and given appropriate medical care.
Vietnam was just a repeat of the error, however — Korean War veterans also got no homecoming parades. The Korean conflict is in fact known to some as “the forgotten war.” So we have more than 50 years of bad habits to break in figuring out how to honor our soldiers and veterans. We as a nation have not gotten it right for a very long time.
Honoring the veterans does at least two beneficial things: It helps the veterans readjust to life, if only a little, knowing that people at home appreciate them as individuals, and that people appreciate the sacrifices they made to serve the nation even when those sacrifices are so great as to be beyond comprehension. Read the rest of this entry »