To say Vietnam veterans were treated terribly would be a gross understatement. Yet, when these brave men came back from Vietnam, they were greeted by protestors and disdain.
In the war, 150,000 troops were wounded, and 58,000 lost their lives. The men saw untold horrors, and many of them never spoke of their time in Vietnam. Instead, many people referred to those who fought in Vietnam as baby killers and spit on them.
Righting a Wrong
One combat medic veteran is working to right the wrong that was done to the returning vets. How the men were treated never sat right with Army vet Steve Downey. Looking back at the situation, he is equally disgusted and impressed with the situation.
“They were spit at and ridiculed. But what do soldiers do? They don’t lay down, they say, here’s my new fight, let’s go.”Steve Downey
The government did not have any benefits set up for GI’s that exist today. Veterans worked to lobby Congress to change how veterans were treated when they came back from war.
However, changing the opinion of the American public was much harder. Many did not change their outlook until after the Gulf War, and it took 9/11 before the majority became patriotic.
“We veterans who came after Vietnam Veterans owe them a debt of gratitude for our increased quality of life, care, and veteran benefits. Every iconic image of war or the military is either modern-day troops or World War II veterans. Vietnam and Korean War veterans are being skipped, and it seems like we don’t care. It’s insulting when you really get into it.”Steve Downey
Downey worked for Walter Reed after he came back from Iraq. When he left, he went to work as a part of the marketing team at Berry Law in Nebraska.
John Stevens Berry Sr. was a Vietnam Veteran and a recipient of the Bronze Star. His offices work with veterans across the U.S. In 2020, they talked about how they can honor Vietnam Vets, with that Operation Triumphus was born.
They began an interactive museum to start sharing Vietnam Veterans’ stories to connect those who served and honor their legacy. Their site says, “We cannot replace the feelings of betrayal and loss that some Veterans felt on their return, but we can correct the course of sentiment to make sure that future generations understand and honor their legacy.”