Vietnam Vet?


When a soldier considered a Vietnam Era Vet, is it correct in putting "Vietnam Veteran" on the grave marker? Or is it disrespectful to the "Vietnam Veteran" who actually fought?


Jim's Reply:

I personally draw a bright line between those who served in direct combat or in the combat zone as opposed to those like myself who never got close. I'm Vietnam era, it was only by the luck of the draw that I went to Germany, I was headed to Vietnam when my orders changed to Germany. I did what we all did, I went where I was told to go. For what it's worth I don't have any 'survivor's guilt' either. Part of doing a good job as a soldier is to go where you're told when you're told to go and to do an exemplary job of it when you arrive. 

I understand the difference and I have a deep respect for anyone who has served in a region where others are actively trying to kill him/her 24x7. Nobody fired a shot at me at my hospital in Germany. A drunk guy threw a beer bottle at me one evening at the local gasthaus but he missed. My service was different than my brothers and sisters who went to Vietnam.

Others like to embellish what they've done and act like they were tough guys back in the day so any association with Vietnam gives them some sort of legitimacy in their mind. I don't pay that much attention other than it's embarrassing. I've had the honor of meeting real heroes...WWII POWs and such. My father was a USMC gunny who earned his first Purple Heart landing on Iwo Jima....then came Korea.

The wannabes don't get on my radar often.

How your VA National Cemetery Services sees it is here. Thanks for your interesting question.


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