Sherry Barkas, The Desert Sun, wrote 'I need help.' Vietnam veteran in Palm Springs had been living for decades with PTSD and Agent Orange exposure
A comprehensive study of veteran suicide rates was released in 2016 by the Department of Veterans Affairs and showed that, on average, 20 veterans a day died from suicide in 2014. While it doesn’t break down results by wars, approximately 65 percent were 50 and older – which would include those who served in Vietnam and Korea.
David Carden served as a medic in Vietnam after volunteering for the draft in 1968. (Photo: Courtesy Photo)The dates are right too,
By choosing the Army, Carden knew he would wind up on the battlefield where he said the lifespan of an infantryman was 30 to 60 days, but enlisting in the Navy or Air Force meant four years of service vs. two.
The Vietnam War started in November 1955. The U.S. had ships off the gulf in 1964 with the first ground troops sent in on March 8, 1965, landing in Da Nang. Direct U.S. military involvement ended on Aug. 15, 1973, though the war continued until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.
Those who served came home to a cold reception from a nation angered by U.S. involvement in the war – a far cry from the “Welcome Home” banners and parades that greeted veterans of wars before and since Vietnam.
And this is yet another important part to remember,
Carden recalled 1990 and the first Gulf War under President George H.W. Bush, when people were hanging yellow ribbons in trees.Please read more from the above link.
“I remember driving through a neighborhood in Long Beach and they had all these yellow ribbons hung on both sides of the street with big yellow bows, and I thought they’re having a big neighborhood party. Then I went to another neighborhood and there were more of them.
“I was listening to the radio and they were saying the American public tied these ribbons around the trees for the Gulf War guys to come home safely” and as an expression of gratitude, Carden said.
“I pulled the car over and I started crying. I said, ‘What about me? What about us?’ We didn’t get this kind of reception, and I always resented that,” he recalled.
At the time, the VA and government weren’t helpful to the Vietnam vets either, he said.
“I never talked about the war. All of my pain and anxiety – PTSD issues – were just kept inside,” he said.