Editor’s Note: This is the final installment of a 10-part series on the Vietnam War, highlighting veterans from Central Texas. The series included in-depth articles on issues veterans and their families faced during and after the war.
The Fort Hood Herald began an ambitious goal on June 10, with the start of a 10-week-series on the Vietnam War.
The planning for the series began months in advance, and we began compiling names and contact information for dozens of Vietnam veterans in the Killeen-Fort Hood area.
It started out as way to do our part in the ongoing commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Local efforts to commemorate the war got into high gear earlier this year, as local Vietnam veterans and supporters began meeting and talking about what could be done to commemorate the war and honor the many veterans.
We wanted to be a part of the conversation and help the effort. That’s what this series was about.
Vietnam was filled with bloodshed, agony and mistakes. But it was also filled with friendships, honor and heroism.
Politics started the war and ended the war, and the soldiers were caught in the middle. America made a tragic mistake in the way it treated soldiers coming back from the war, causing the mental wounds from the war only to hurt more.
The losses from the war were heavy: Facing a tough enemy comprised of line units from the North Vietnamese army and guerrilla fighters known as the Viet Cong, more than 58,000 American service-members died fighting the war.
According to statistics from Veterans Affairs, about 541,000 Vietnam-era veterans live in the Lone Star State, representing more than a third of the 1.5 million veterans who call Texas home.
The VA couldn’t confirm exactly how many Vietnam veterans live in the Killeen-Fort Hood area, but the number is believed to be around 10,000 or more.
While the statistics are important, the lessons of Vietnam are arguably more important. As a nation, we’ve learned that the country should always support the troops. We’ve learned what PTSD really is. We’ve learned how to better deploy our soldiers into battle. We’ve learned that when we go to war, we need to go in a way that gives us the best chance at victory. At least, we should have learned those lessons.
All that makes it important to never forget the Vietnam War and the veterans who fought it.
This series was for them and their families. I thank you for reading, and as the 50th anniversary to commemorate the Vietnam War continues, we will continue to periodically share their stories. Many of them haven’t been told before. It’s time that those stories get told. Lest we forget.
Jacob Brooks is editor of the Fort Hood Herald. Contact him a 254-501-7468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.