The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress


I have been reading the "Letters" portion of The VVA Veteran with some interest in the feelings members have concerning their service during the Vietnam War. Those of us who never served in a combat zone were aware that we could be called upon to do so. We also were witness to what was going on in this country; the protests and the political fallout. Often we were ostracized by our enlightened and free-spirited peers, particularly while in transit.

When veterans congregate, we are somewhat left out because we never went. I've suffered survivor guilt, but I also have much to be thankful for. My hat's off to those who were able to keep it together in a war zone, but I also know the effect that service to one's country has on appreciating what we all share. We should all be for the common cause of veterans rights and entitlements, and we should keep them sacred for those who come behind us. In that way we are all brothers united. It is the reason for my membership in VVA.

Rick Graham
Midvale, Idaho


Thanks for the special November issue, the most outstanding issue of The VVA Veteran that I can remember. I am a Life Member of VVA who lived in Washington, D.C., the year The Wall was dedicated. The article on the volunteers who man The Wall was outstanding. I have visited it twice. On each visit, the volunteers have assisted me in some fashion. They should know, and be told, how much we veterans appreciate them.

It is comforting to know that there is someone there to assist you with names and to offer a kind word, a helping hand, and sometimes a shoulder to lean on. I know it is a tough job, but God bless them for their daily efforts. Thank you for allowing them to express themselves to us through The VVA Veteran, the best veteran newspaper ever printed.

Alvin E. Thomas
Cornell, Wisconsin


I just finished reading the USS Liberty article in the September-October issue. There have been few times when the written word has failed to come to my assistance to express my thoughts and feelings regarding the USS Liberty. This is one of those times.

"Thank you" seems so inadequate and doesn't come close to expressing our
appreciation for the article. If there is a word in the English language that does adequately express that appreciation I don't know what that word is.

Joe Meadors, Vice President,
USS Liberty Veterans Association
Via e-mail


Your article about combat photographer Catherine Leroy in the September/October issue was an excellent and informative piece. However, you perpetuate the MACV fairy tale about the "only combat [parachute] jump of the Vietnam War,'' Operation Junction City, 1967.

Indeed, the 173rd Airborne made a parachute jump in Vietnam in 1967. However, having qualified for a parachute badge myself in 1966, I am fully aware of the hostile conditions involved in a combat jump. That jump could hardly qualify by any stretch. In reality, it was merely a "combat equipment jump,'' like the fifth jump at Ft. Benning's Jump School.

When the 173rd jumped during Operation Junction City, the DZ had a banner on it which said something like, "This drop zone provided by the 1st Engineers.'' That's because units of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division had swept the area for three days prior and had a defensive perimeter around the DZ. I watched the jump from the ground with amusement as FDC for 81mm mortars with the weapons platoon, C Co., 2nd/18th Infantry of The Big Red One.

Ron Betts
Waldport, Oregon


I am a Vietnam veteran, a VVA member, Director of Events for the State Council of Idaho, and an ex-Navy Radarman. I served from June 1964 to June 1968. I spent two nine-month tours on a 150-foot, wooden-hull minesweeper en route to, on station, or en route home from Vietnam. I feel this organization, and others that profess to help veterans, should address the issues of the veterans who served their country on ships.

Unless you can prove that you have set foot on the shore of Vietnam, you cannot claim Agent Orange as a cause of your disability. But the wind blew the spraying in the water off shore. This oily, diesel-coated spray floated down the rivers and into the waters off the coasts. The same with the wind.

Another problem the sailors have is PTSD. Unlike in-country personnel, we could not do anything to help injured soldiers without an order from above. We just had to sit and listen to the radio. Other issues that sailors have need to be addressed. Don't you think it is about time you make an effort to answer these problems? A lot of Naval personnel feel that we are second-class military personnel. What can you do to rectify this problem?

Gene E. Reinbolt
Idaho Falls, Idaho


Can you imagine my surprise when I opened the September/October issue to find a lengthy article on the Liberty disaster? Not since the failed attempt at the 1985 National Convention to get a resolution passed condemning the incident and asking for an inquiry by Congress have I seen any mention of it in official VVA circles.

Now that the die is cast, I await word of movement by our national officers to put the full faith and effort of our organization to bear on Congress when it reconvenes in January to get an inquiry started. I hope you will stay the course and bring closure to this most odious chapter in our military history.

Donald C. Frisco
Wilmington, Delaware


I read the article by Bernard Edelman in the November issue. Two sentences caught my mind. The first was, "The unfortunate stereotype of the whacked-out, Vietnam vets-as-victims or dysfunctional baby killers warped by what they had seen and done in Southeast Asia emerged and gained prominence in the media.'' The second was, "Many veterans, though, were ashamed even to admit that they had served.''

First, today's media is run by people who lean towards the liberal side of the political spectrum. These people still want to portray the Vietnam veteran as that whacked-out, dysfunctional baby killer.

So tell me, please, why do Vietnam veterans still insist after all these years in perpetuating this image by dressing up in old uniforms that no longer fit, covered with pins and patches? All this does is reinforce the image. If there were a hundred well-dressed Vietnam veterans and one dressed in his camouflage fatigues moaning, groaning, crying, and rolling on the ground in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, who do you think will make the network news?

It's time to dress respectable. Would you wear fatigues to church? A parent's funeral? Look at photos from World War II and Korea veterans reunions. Do you see any uniforms? No. The war is over for them. And it's over for us, too. We've been home for 30 years or more. Let's put the war paraphernalia away.

It bothers me to write this, because I know how much wearing these old uniforms and patches means to many of us. Let's just leave the fatigues at home next Veterans Day.

Marty Cacioppo
Via e-mail


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