This morning at the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall in Longwood Florida, I was thinking about how much the general public does not know about the Vietnam War.
Some say that Afghanistan is the longest war, but they are wrong. October 2001 to 2016. 2,381 lives lost. For Vietnam, there were 6,350 killed in 1966 alone. The highest death rate occurred in 1968 with 16,899.
Others talk about Iraq. That was from March 2003 to December 2011, officially anyway. So far there have been 4,502 lives lost according to ICasualties.com. About 3 million US service members deployed during these almost 15 years.
The thing is, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, officially the Vietnam War started in 1964 and ended in 1975. Yet the first to fall on the Vietnam Memorial Wall was Richard Fitzgibbon on June 8, 1956. His son was killed in 1965 and I am sure the family felt the same pain no matter if the rest of the country noticed it or not.
US Servicemembers 8,744,000
Deployed to Southeast Asia 3,403,000
39,996 were just 22 or younger
8,283 were 19
3,103 were 18
12 were 17
5 were 16
but PFC Dan Bullock was only 15
and those are just some of the
244 received the Medal of Honor
153 of them had perished saving lives
and are on the Memorial Wall
997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam
1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam
Three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall
The thing is, even Vietnam was not the longest war for America. It is the war that is fought against what war did to them. That is the final battle of war and it comes because of it. This is a war that too many find acceptable to lose.
They fight side by side with everyone they serve with, doing everything possible to make it back home yet they do no want to bother anyone with their troubles, refusing to ask for help from the very people they depended on to stay alive in combat.
This is a battle that is fought at home and they need all the help they can get.
If you are a younger veteran, remember the ages you read above and then notice that just because they are older now, they can still remember what it was like to be very young and in a far away place. Talk to them.
Whatever you do, do not forget about them because they are the reason everything learned on PTSD happened.
More information on Vietnam Veterans that no one wants to talk about.
Older veterans appear to be at the greatest risk. Almost 70 percent of all veteran suicides were among people 50 and older, according to the study, compared with less than 40 percent among those 50 and older who did not serve.
The study estimated that those, like Reitmann, with high levels of war-zone exposure “had significantly higher rates” of what is now understood as PTSD, with 35.8 percent of men and 17.5 percent of women meeting criteria for current PTSD.
By comparison, research on Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans, according to the VA, suggests that 10 percent to 18 percent “are likely to have PTSD after they return.”
Since 2012, 54 veterans who were patients of the Bay Pines VA Medical System took their own lives, according to spokesman Jason Dangel. Almost 700 veterans during that period attempted suicide.