"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sharing the Burden, Vet to Vet

Travesty of the Vietnam War

by Doyle Watters

It makes me quite sad, when I talk to other Vietnam Veterans. What burdens their souls, the average person could never understand. 

If someone were to ask me to describe the price of freedom, I would have to say, "Those white crosses on foreign soils and the sick and dying in Veteran Hospitals -- that's what the price is and it's what the price looks like." 

Vietnam Veterans are now sixty plus years-old, with worries of health, and left with that age-old question, "Did I do all I could have done?" 

"Hero" is not how they want to be labeled, and "Thank you for your service", comes too damn late, to have any healing power.

When they returned home, the haters and peace demonstrators met them at the airports. Called baby killers, while often being physically and/or verbally abused, many have never fully recovered. 

Jane Fonda betrayed them and they will never forget, nor will they forgive her, regardless of her youth. The grudge they hold has kept them prisoners in its very tight grip.

Haters and Peace Demonstrators
Sure, they have been known to say, "58,222 names are written on a black granite wall in our nation's capital". Yet, those numbers are small, compared to the vast numbers of American youth that went away whole and returned so much less than whole. 

More labels were placed on them, after they decided to trade their military uniforms and weapons for a chance to compete in a civilian society. 

Senior citizens now, they are gray, balding, wrinkled, with numerous ailments, divorces, and the deaths of their moms and dads have left them struggling, knowing that death is just on the other side of the horizon for them, as well.

Taking all types of pills, to include group therapy sessions, Vietnam Veterans continue to ask, "For what do I have to live?"  

Putting a Bandaid on the Problem ...
Needing to talk, their frustration kicks in, because there is always a lack of trust.  I have heard so many times, "I can talk to you, but not to them, because they wouldn't understand."  Their follow-up phrase is, "They haven't been where I've been."

Yes, there were those that fell into a bottle and never managed to climb out. There were those that pretended drugs were the answer to everything -- and they are no longer with us. 

For those who got out and become successful in work, family, and community, you will never receive due credit, nor an apology from any president. What I can proudly say is, "I am one of you." 

After having said that, the nightmares and dreams continue to haunt my soul. I know I will never be free from the screams of pain, the smell of flesh, and the words,  "Please, help me", and knowing there was nothing that I could do, except watch helplessly ... and punish myself from that day forward. 

CSM Doyle Watters 
Vietnam Veteran
US Army Retired

Other Articles by Doyle Watters

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.


  1. Excellent post Doyle Watters. Your thoughts & writing speak for us all. We live every word 24/7 & truly "They" will never understand what our world was, is, & will forevermore be.Wounds of the Heart never heal. Thank You & welcome Home also my brother in arms. God Bless you & yours, always.

  2. Thank you for this post Doyle Watters. I truly felt the pain, angst, and frustration you wanted to convey. As a citizen who has never seen war, I can't imagine the strength a person needs to truly have to come back the same. I am blessed to live in a country with people like you who willingly risk your lives for our freedoms and privileges. I will share your post through my networks. Very powerful message. Thanks.

    I wrote a free eBook called Battling the Invisible Front: Barriers Keeping Service Members from Full Recovery; I think you would enjoy it.


  3. Thank you for your concise but poignant article, Doyle. You have touched me so much. I have never been to war, but I have helped a few Vets with PTSD. The horrors that our military forces face are incomprehensible to me. Thank you so much for helping open my eyes more.

    I hope it is not too late, Doyle, but thank you, sir, for your service.


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