(Washington, D.C.) – "We are
deeply disappointed by the Secretary of Defense's disparaging remarks last
week regarding Vietnam War draftees. These remarks defame the honorable and
distinguished service of over 1.7 million draftees during the Vietnam Era,"
Vietnam Veterans of America national President Thomas H. Corey said today.
"The Secretary's comments are
without foundation at best and insulting at worst."
Corey was responding to remarks made Wednesday, January 8, by Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that draftees added "no value, no advantage,
really, to the United States Armed Services over any sustained period of
"Secretary Rumsfeld should know that the Vietnam War could not have
continued for 10 years without a military draft of honorable Americans who
accepted their military obligation as citizens of this great country," Corey
said. "The United States won every military confrontation with the enemy in
Vietnam, and that was accomplished with the devoted and often heroic service
of many tens of thousands of draftees. Further, a system of military
conscription has been used in most of America's wars, including World War
II, World War I, and the Civil War."
Rumsfeld made his remarks in response to a call last week by Congressman
Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to reinstate the draft.
"More than 17,000 of the more than 58,000 men and women whose names are on
The Wall were draftees," Corey continued. "It is wrong for anyone to
demean their memories and insult their families as the Secretary did last
week. Similarly, it is wrong to demean the hundreds of thousands of us who
were wounded and disabled as a result of our honorable service. Our service
did have value. Most of us went on to make significant contributions to
America in civilian life that are valued by our families, our friends, our
communities, and by most Americans."
"At a bare minimum, the Secretary owes an apology to the families of those
draftees whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in
Washington, and those who served with them," Corey said.