Letter: After 50 years, Vietnam veterans still disrespected

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 9, 2016


Dear Editor:

Earlier this year, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal implemented a Vietnam veteran recognition program called the Vietnam War Certificate of Honor (certificate). The program not only includes the true Vietnam veteran (Vietnam veteran) who earned his respect and title by risking his life and putting his boots on the ground in the Vietnam war zone between Nov. 15, 1961, and April 30, 1975 (the Vietnam era) but also the Vietnam-era veteran (era veteran) who served at some time during that period, but never entered the war zone, took any combat risks, faced Agent Orange or PTSD, nor experienced the terror and horrors of that war.

To rub salt into the wound, the governor expanded the certificate base by including thousands of veterans that served between 1954 and Nov. 14, 1961 (second group) and called them Vietnam veterans as well. When you consider the actual second group military personnel that served in the Vietnam area was less than .02 percent of the total military force serving at that time, and only one of the nine unfortunate casualties that occurred was considered as killed in action, the governor’s political reasons versus veteran recognition reasons are questionable.

Only the Vietnam veteran meets the qualification requirements to wear the Vietnam Service Ribbon/Medal (the decoration) and be called a Vietnam veteran. While the era veteran served honorably, he never earned or qualified for the decoration and the right to be called a Vietnam veteran, yet the decoration is included as a focal point on the certificate being presented to era Veterans. What a slap in the face to Vietnam veterans across the country.

By including the era veterans as eligible to receive the certificate and expanding the actual Vietnam era eight years by including the second group, the governor increased his overall recognition group by thousands to an estimated total of 234,000 and increased his potential veteran political support base by 350 percent. This was accomplished by ignoring the 162,726 Vietnam personnel killed or wounded in action while defending our country in a political war. Of the 58,148 killed, 1,582 came from Georgia. How does the governor explain his actions to those families?

No veteran disagrees with having all veterans that served during the Vietnam era recognized. It is just the incompetent way it was handled. All that needed to be done was to recognize the Vietnam veterans as one entity and the era Veterans as another; everyone would be happy, and the governor would have accomplished his objective.

The governor’s political correctness idea that those who work hard never win and those that never work, never lose is a politically correct concept that is ruining this country. Americans are not all the same, there are winners and losers and always will be.

If someone like me doesn’t stand up and support the Vietnam veterans, who will? I will let the readers judge my comments.

George Nelson