Why I’m Proud To Be A Veteran

January 27, 2022by Harold Dawley0

Harold H. Dawley, Jr., Ph.D.

No, I did not serve in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or any of our recent conflicts but at 82 years of age, I have the honor of having served in the Marine Corps and then of evaluating and in many cases getting to know well veterans from all of recent conflicts during my career as a Veterans Affairs psychologist. I also recall an uncle who helped raise me talk about being in the horse Calvary chasing Poncho Villa into Mexico and then serving in WWI and being gassed in France. As I worked with veterans of WWI forward, I’ve heard their stories and felt their pain as they shared their experiences with me. War is hell and I, like many others who have worked with combat veterans, I’ve heard almost every imaginably horror story of war. But the most distressing stories I’ve heard were from those veterans who served in Vietnam describe the negative way some of them were treated coming home.

We owe our freedom to those who have fought to protect our way of living. Americans answered our country’s call and and fought in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts since them to the present time. In all of these conflicts we welcomed home our veterans who fought to protect our freedom with one exception. Veterans coming home from Vietnam did not receive the same warm welcome received by veterans of our other wars and conflicts. Some were treated badly and were called “baby killers” with some even being spit on. Yes, I know you doubt that veterans coming from having fought in a major war were actually spit on and treated badly. I evaluated a number of Vietnam veterans and was struck by their anger, bitterness, and hurt over the negative way some were treated coming home from Vietnam.

In 2018, I had the honor of producing of what I believe is the first and only documentary to primarily focus on the negative way some Vietnam veterans were treated coming home. It has since aired numerous times on the New Orleans PBS Station WYES. My pride in being a veteran originated in doing this documentary. In it you will see Vietnam veterans share their sad experiences coming home. They were not met by bands and crowds of people honoring them for their service. They got the opposite and too many were met by angry crowds criticizing them for serving in one of our most unpopular wars. As I interviewed Vietnam veterans, I heard their stories of answering our country’s call in time of war and doing what our country told them to do. Anyone viewing their stories will have difficulty keeping dry eyes as they state they did what they were told to do only to be treated like war criminals when they cam home.

Click on the link below and you will see Vietnam veterans standing tall despite the way they were treated coming home which makes me proud to be a veteran.

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