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GAC Diverse Voices in the Military

GAC Diverse Voices in the Military


Welcome. My name is Derek Levy. I’m the acting Associate Dean
for Student Support Programs here at Shoreline
Community College. It’s my great honor to moderate
this discussion this evening by this distinguished
panel of military veterans. Tonight’s discussion
is a collaboration between the college’s Global
Affairs Center and Veterans Programs. This event is also part of
our partnership with the USA Vietnam War
Commemoration Project in the Department of Defense. Our US military has
a single mission to preserve the security
of the United States. Diversity, inclusion,
and equal opportunity are three terms that are
often used interchangeably in discussions, such as the
one we’re about to have here. The Department of
Defense’s definitions of diversity and
equal opportunity have changed over time, as have
its policies towards inclusion of various demographic groups. These changes have
often paralleled social and legal changes
in the civilian sector. Tonight, we will
hear from individuals who have been on the front
lines of some of those changes over the past 40 years. Allow me to introduce
each of them briefly. More details are available
online at the Global Affairs Center site for this program. Francisco Ivarra. Francisco served in the US
Army in Vietnam, 1968 to 1969, where he was wounded and
earned a Purple Heart. He was honorably discharged from
the US Army in December 1969. Since then he has remained very
active in Veterans Affairs. He is president
of the Vietnam War Veterans of Washington State. Francisco is also
Region 8 Director of the same, Alaska,
Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Did we get them all? And Wyoming. OK. And Wyoming. Thank you. He was the first
Hispanic veteran selected by the Department
of Veterans Affairs to be part of a national
study on Vietnam veterans and the effects of PTSD
in the 1980s and 90s. Donna Lowery. Sergeant Major, US Army retired. Donna, who hails
from Eugene, Oregon, began her military career
in the Women’s Army Corps in June 1965. She was selected as one of
the initial group of Army enlisted women to serve in
Vietnam, arriving in 1967. She served 19 months in
country, and counts that time as one of her most
interesting assignments. She retired from the US Army
in 1991 as Sergeant Major. She’s a co-author of, Women
Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Stories. She feels strongly
that the world needs to know more about the
courageous women who willingly serve this country
in a combat zone at a time when it was not seen
as an appropriate thing to do. Bill Moore. Bill is a US Army veteran
with over 30 years of military service. He served in Vietnam as a senior
district advisor, 1967 to 1968. Other overseas assignments took
him to Germany and South Korea. He retired from the US
Army in 1993 as a Colonel. Charles Santiago. Charles served for eight
years in the US Navy before coming to
Shoreline as a student. He served in Iraq
in 2010 and ’11. He was honorably discharged
from the Navy in July 2016. In his own words,
he left the military with a purpose and
some leftover courage, and set out to leave his
own mark on the world. We’re very pleased
that he decided to begin leaving his
mark here at Shoreline, although I suspect he really
began to do so in the Navy, perhaps even earlier. Jordan Smith. Jordan is an Alaska native
and US Army veteran. Jordan was honorably discharged
from the US army in 2012. She graduated from
Shoreline last year. It’s our pleasure and
honor to have her back on the staff of the Student
Support Programs Office, supporting veterans and
students with disabilities, while she works on her degree
in social work at UW Bothell. Please join me in
welcoming them. [APPLAUSE] A little housekeeping. Before we begin our discussion,
I have a few items to mention. The emergency exits are
in the back where you entered and the side door here. Restrooms are out the
main doors and to the left around this hallway. Coffee and tea are in
the back of the room. Please help yourself. We were recording this
event for later viewing, and during the Q&A
part of the program, we ask that you use
the microphone that will be brought to you when you
ask your question, so all of us can benefit from hearing it. Can we get started? Yep. Uh-huh. So there was a teaser
for this program. What have been the
challenges faced by women in racial
and ethnic minorities in the military over
time, and how have they overcome or otherwise dealt
with these challenges? How has their service, return
home, and commemoration of their service been
similar or different? In a little recent context, as
I said the theme for tonight is diversity and diverse
voices in the military. In August the first
African-American woman was selected to lead
West Point’s 4,400 member corp of cadets, as its first
Captain Brigade Commander. On Monday, a federal
judge partially blocked enforcement of key
provisions of President Donald Trump’s memorandum banning
transgender people serving in the military. So we start with some
questions around service, and we’re going to
jump right in, folks. OK. When you think about
identity-related experiences you may have faced during
your time of service, how is this similar or
different to your experience in civilian life? We can go in any order and
whoever wants to answer. It doesn’t have to be all. Well, I was in the
Army for 26 years, so by the time that was
over, I was fortunate that Washington State Department
of Vet Affairs hired me, so I went right to
work for the state, and I didn’t have any transition
issues or any of that, and I’ve done a number
of different things. But now I’m fully retired. I think for me, I would have to
put it in a historical context. You know, when I came back from
Vietnam in 1969, this country, of course, was dealing
with a lot of turmoil. We’d had assassinations. We had– Martin Luther
King was assassinated. Our president was assassinated
earlier than that. His brother, as a
senator, was assassinated. We had the riots in East LA,
and Vietnam was not something that people wanted
to talk about. And so many of us who
returned during that time were not welcome,
as perhaps we should have been as an American
soldier defending this nation and fighting for the freedoms
that we do now have and always have had because of soldiers,
airmen, and Marines, and et cetera. So you’re dealing with a
whole different perspective here because it’s historical
fact that doesn’t quite formulate itself to
what is happening today. Today, our soldiers come
home and they’re paraded, they’re welcomed,
and rightly so. I think that’s the
way it should be, but for us it wasn’t
like that, many of us. So that’s a little
bit different, and it’s very difficult to
make a transition from that to a civilian life
because even after we were just discharged, honorably
discharged, many of us. Some of us were
not, but most of us were, you were still
not treated right in this country when you said
you were a Vietnam veteran. So it was very different,
and that’s why many of us did not want to
talk about Vietnam. Took me 20 years. to begin to talk about Vietnam. In fact, many times I denied
that I was even in Vietnam because I did not want
to be treated wrongly, and I knew that
racism existed, and it existed not only against me and
many of the other minorities that had served in Vietnam,
Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Native Americans,
Asian Americans, you name it. And so this transition
from being in the military to civilian life, I’m talking,
of course, in historical terms, but talking about a country
that we all still live in and we’re still part of
and that we still defend. That’s where I’m coming from. Maybe I should put it in
historical perspective also. I finished ROTC
in Tuskegee, 1964. That was the
height, as you know, of civil rights and
everything else. I went on active duty
right after then, and in ’67, I was getting
ready to go to Vietnam. So I thought, at least I could
vote, or get ready to vote, since I was going over to
protect their democracy. So I went to vote in Macon
county, and they asked me, what was the signers of the
Declaration of Independence? Well, I didn’t know
who the signers were, and so they said I was an
illiterate, even though I just had finished college. And about seven,
eight months earlier, my childhood friend, a
guy who I grew up with, named Samuel Younge,
he was trying to go into a restroom,
men’s restroom, in Tuskegee, and he was shot in the
back of the head, murdered. Nothing ever happened. So here I am, going to Vietnam
to fight for their democracy, and I can’t even vote. So, as you know, I didn’t– I was not a happy camper. When I got over there, I was
one of the few Americans– probably on one around
here, not to interact with American soldiers,
Vietnamese soldiers. I was assigned as a
senior district advisor to an ethnic group called,
Montagnards, which translated, means, mountain savage. So I interacted with them. We trained them and we
took them to battle. So it’s interesting that
about my experiences there. They were an ethic
groups, so I really kind of identified with them. In fact, when I went
around on exercises, the other Montagnards would
call me the Big Montagnards. So it’s just different. When I came back I went
to ROTC duty at Cornell, and was called a baby killer
because I was in Vietnam. Not, thank you for your
service, but a baby killer. Well, transition from
military to civilian lifestyle was actually really smooth,
and getting into the Navy– I don’t know. I think the– my most difficult,
I think, transition part was getting into the military. I wasn’t used to structure
or any of that stuff. I kind of still am
not used to structure, but I never really had a
problem with race or being called a baby killer
or any of that stuff. It’s a lot different from, I’m
sure, what they experienced. I came home to people loving me
and saying I did a great job, and I necessarily didn’t
do much so it’s strange. I can’t imagine what these
fine gentlemen and this lady has gone through or
anything like that. I just– yeah. Smooth sailing, I guess, for
the sailor over here, for me. So, yeah. Thank you for your service, each
and every person on this panel. Thank you very much. And I was a medic for the entire
time I was in the service. My job varied depending
on where I served, but I also did re-entry
for a lot of soldiers and I saw it from
different perspectives. There would be people who
greeted every single plane that came back because they felt that
it was important that veterans knew that we cared for them
because of what you’re hearing today. So when the Vietnam
Vets came back, those type of interventions,
community interventions designed to keep
people in the boat, keep people healthy
and safe and sane, those didn’t really
exist until later. It didn’t exist at
all until later. And the gentleman
who just spoke who– I’m sorry. I want to call you
Santiago, but– so when Charles just spoke,
I respect what he’s saying, but I also want to say that
everybody’s return is not smooth. Being a medic, I was also
a forward support medic, and that means that I would
be amongst the infantry units. And depending on the day,
depending on the soldier, depending on the sound,
I’ve seen people trapped in nightmares that they
just cannot get out of, and that’s with all the
interventions that we have provided for them thus far. So I’m really surprised to be
a part of a panel like this, and to be able to
say that we care, and to get the message out that
these gentlemen and lady are able to share with us. Thank you. Could you each speak to
how you felt welcomed, or to the degree you did
or didn’t feel welcomed when you joined the service? Service– I’m a volunteer,
and I was interviewed by Joe Galloway right
here on this campus, and I’m a volunteer for Vietnam
on every single category. Volunteered for the
United States Army. Volunteer for infantry. Volunteered for Vietnam. And as I told Joe
Galloway, the reason I did that is because
I’m a welfare child. I was on welfare most of my
life as I was growing up, up until high school. And the reason that I
did all that volunteering was because of my mother. My mother felt that
since we were poor and we were on welfare, we
owed this government something, and the only way that we were
going to repay this government was for all her sons to
go into the military. And she had seven sons, and
we all went into the military, and we were all Army. And so that is my story of how
I ended up in the military. But how I was treated, I’ve
already mentioned part of it, and I think Vietnam
was different. It was a different war. It was a jungle war,
much like the Pacific during World War II,
not like in Europe, which was urban warfare. But, even then, again to put
it in a historical context, being a minority doesn’t
guarantee anything in this world. It only guarantees
sometimes that you’re going to be mistreated,
or not treated right, or not treated fairly, and
Vietnam was no different. If you were an
infantry in Vietnam, most of the time the people that
were in point were minorities. Most of you saw, or
some of you may perhaps have seen that movie, Full
Metal Jacket, where there is a sniper, and the person that
they decide to put out there is a African-American. And what is his response? “Get the nigger. Pull the trigger.” Puerto Ricans weren’t
treated any different. Hispanics and Latinos weren’t
treated any different. Native Americans weren’t
treated any different. Asians weren’t treated any
different, Asian Americans. You know, that doesn’t mean
that we are not patriotic. That doesn’t mean
that we do not honor the code that we are supposed
to defend this country. That doesn’t mean that we are
not brave or lack courage. In fact, minorities have a
great deal to be proud of. Hispanics were awarded 14
Congressional Medal of Honors in Vietnam, not to mention,
Distinguished Service Crosses, and Silver Stars,
Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, you name it. If you read a book
titled Among the Valiant, you will learn about
Hispanics in Korea and World War II, the most
decorated of all. If you read about the
65th regiment in Korea, under General MacArthur,
you’ll understand that there was no
other regiment that was the most highly
decorated than they, and they were from Puerto Rico. And now I can bring it all the
way back to where we’re at. When Maria hit Puerto Rico,
many American citizens did not even know that
Puerto Ricans were Americans. Many do not know or do not
realize that Puerto Ricans have served in this country, and
the many military conflicts and in wars that we’ve
been involved with. And the 65th regiment is one
of the most decorated regiments of all time, and they’re
all Puerto Ricans. Now, you know the other thing
about that, and some of you may or may not know
this, even though they serve their country, and
they served in Vietnam, and they serve now in
Afghanistan and Iraq, they can still not vote for the
President of the United States. Think about that. You’re willing to
die for this country. They’re willing to
defend this country. They’re willing to
fight for our democracy, for you to sit there,
for me to sit here, for me to get out of
here, go to my car, go home, turn on the
TV, and enjoy life. But yet, they can’t even vote. Think about that for a second. I’ll let somebody else speak. Well, I came from the proud
tradition being a Tuskegee. I grew up with the
famed Tuskegee Airmen. I’m sure you probably
saw that movie, and so I wanted to be a pilot. So I went to Tuskegee
University, ROTC, with the thing of being
a pilot, but I didn’t realize that I couldn’t see. You had to have 20/20
vision, uncorrected, so I had to go in the Army. We have a different
kind of curriculum, being a traditional
black school and very prominent for the military. We had training other ROTC
students did not have. We had to train
how to tell whites to do something because we
come in as an officer because in Alabama and in
a southern thing, it was tradition that blacks
could not order whites around. So we would practice telling
other African Americans, saying, you’re white here. So I will tell you to do this,
and that’s how we did it. And when I went on active duty,
I mean, I ran across that. I had a guy who was
from Lebanon, Kentucky, and I still remember his name. He was a Buck Sergeant. And he came in
wanting to see me. He said, sir, I just want that
you know, from where I’m from, coloreds don’t
tell us what to do. And I said, Sergeant Beacon– because his name was Beacon. I said, you don’t have
to bring that tradition, but I will send your
ass to the stockade, and we ended up being very
good friends after then, but it is just a different
time and different age in terms of understanding what
America was all about, and how you operated in
that kind of environment. And you really had to understand
things because here you– we were supposed to go
to Vietnam to do what? Stop the flow of communism, to
support democracy, yet people like me could not have
democracy in my own hometown. When I got commissioned,
I got a commissioned as a Adjutant General Corps,
which mean a paper-pusher. I was so gung-ho, I
told them, I don’t want– if I can go infantry,
I don’t want to be in. And my daddy said,
You one stupid ass. You know what
they’re going to do? They’re going to
give you infantry and to send you to
Vietnam, which they did. Well, I wanted to share with you
about the women of that time. So I’m 70 years old. I’m a Vietnam Vet, served 19
months in ‘Nam, and the way that we handled things there– the first thing that happened
for the women is that General Westmoreland asked for some– the Vietnamese
president was going to have a Vietnamese
Woman’s Army, and so they asked for two of our
trainers from Fort McClellan, Alabama to go over and
train the Vietnamese women. At that time,
General Westmoreland decided that he wanted
some military stenos to replace the civilians
stenos he had on the staff. So that’s how the military
women first got over there, and I represent a group
which is– other than nurses, there’s 863 of us that
served in Vietnam. The interesting factor
about this group of women is that our country has
not recognized them. We just had last year, the DOD
has been spreading for years an number, one,
two, three, four. That’s the number of
women, non-nurses, that served in ‘Nam, and last
year they finally acknowledge that they have no idea, that
our records have been lost, and that some of the women will
never receive the recognition that they deserve. We have 288 women that
are deceased already. Right now, we have
one of the women who is 70 years old, who’s
never gotten her benefits, and so I had to write a
witness statement that I was with her in ‘Nam, so we
can get what she’s entitled to. But when we went
to Vietnam, and I was part of the first
group that went over, and we were at a WAC
detachment, so we had a unit. And that unit, we had Class B
uniform, so we’re in our skirt. We’re in our heels. We’re in the top
because in those days, what happened was
the women were not part of the regular service. So, for example, the Army
had the regular army, which was where the
men were, and then we the WAC, which is
where the women were. So we would have– and this happened for the
other services, as well– we would have one colonel who
would make all the decisions for your particular service. Our Colonel, who
became the one general, she decided it would not
look appropriate for us to have any weapons. So if you can imagine
going into a war zone, and there are no weapons for us. That we have puffy
hair because we have our own beautician in
our compound to make sure that our hair is taken care of. We have a woman, now– so this has been 50 years ago. And we were
noncombatants, so that means that we were not
considered like these guys, who were combatants, right? They’re the military. We were considered
like family members, and so our unit did not
have an evacuation plan. So we have a woman who has
never gotten over the fact that she went to
serve her country, and there was no plan for
our unit to be evacuated. So the women would have
just been left there. I mean, there’s nothing. We were closely monitored. We didn’t get– Joe Galloway asked this question
about the stars and stripes. We never got the stars and
stripes because they never sent it from Japan,
and one of the ideas– I asked the First
Sergeant was, they didn’t want us to know what was
happening with all the fighting and everything. So we never got any news
the entire 19 months that I was over there. When it came time
for us and, we first moved to Tan Son Nhut Air Base,
which is where we had tent city be. So imagine a compound
about six blocks long and the WAC detachment
was in there. We were separated
by a small road, and then five rows of
male tents, the engineers, were sleeping in the
tents, and then there is the perimeter,
which is a golf course. That was our safety. No weapons. Just over there. So we went for safety, and
the whole USARV headquarters moved to Long Binh, 27
miles north of Saigon, and in 10 of 68, which was the
biggest campaign of the war, the buildings that we had
been in 1967 were destroyed, completely demolished. So if USARV had not gone
and moved for safety, everybody would have been dead. In 1968, when we
were over there, it’s the craziest thing when
I tell people this story, they are just like,
you must be kidding me. But I’m really not. So we have no weapons, and I– when I was a Sergeant
Major Academy and got actual
notes from a meeting where they were
discussing our safety. And so in those
notes, they said, OK. If Charlie– so that the enemy– comes with his
AK-47, we’re supposed to go in a particular ditch,
jump up, and kill them. And for 45 years,
I’ve been asking, and what were we supposed to do? Whip out our heels or you know? Honestly, that was
my first thought. And then one of my friends
said, No, we were out of heels by that time. We were in jungle fatigues. We were supposed to hit
them with our hair spray. And I’m like, can you imagine
being in this situation, where you love your country and
that’s why you are there. And there is no
protection for you. I mean, it’s really,
really a sad time. So I wanted to share with
you what it was like for us. I mean, now after the
Army came in first, then we had the Air Force. We had the Navy, and we had
the Marines, there, and some of the Air Force, they’d
be the only one at the base that they were at. I mean, it just depended, but
the majority of women that went were about 700,
and they were Army. About 200, we’re
figuring, the Air Force. Thirty-five of them
are Marines, and we found four more, and so
that makes 12 of the Navy that were there. So it’s an important thing
because this group has been overlooked, and it was
not until last year the DOD admitted they have no idea
from this group, who went? So unless you retired,
they don’t know about you. So we’ve got 288 women
that are deceased. At that particular, time
if you got pregnant, they sent you out, and you
got a dishonorable discharge. Can you imagine serving your
country and you get pregnant, and you get a
dishonorable discharge? That’s what happened
to our women. And just like the men, when
they came back to Oakland and they got out, they
just took their ID card. They didn’t even say,
thank you for your service. They didn’t have anything else
to do with them at that time. So thank you very much for
giving me the opportunity to share about these women. I can’t I have to follow this. OK. So when I joined,
I was just lost. I was a little lost my life. I was getting– I was still in
high school, about to graduate. I didn’t know what
I wanted to do. I definitely knew I didn’t
want to go to school, and my mom kept pressuring
me to get a job, get a job. I was working at Subway, eating
fresh, and I joined the Navy. And my goal was to
fight, be front lines. They all that stuff,
and I ended up being– what you were saying,
a paper-pusher. Yeah. That was my job, paper pushing. So I was really good
at it, by the way, and basically, I joined. Three months later, I went
to boot camp, then school, and then from school, I got
told I’m getting to squadron. Squadron is in Iraq. So I was like, oh, cool. This is– I’m going
straight to Iraq. So I went there, Operation
Iraqi Freedom, I was amid there. And I mean, I didn’t do much. I didn’t– I really
didn’t do much. I was there for a
long time, but all– I was in the squadron that only
chutes jets out and everything, and you patrolled the
bases and stuff like that. It was a pretty big base. It was really smooth. Very diverse, like what
you guys are saying. It’s super diverse, and they
push diversity like crazy, so that is a definite change. We definitely had PowerPoints. You ever heard of
death by PowerPoint? We had those a lot about
diversity and racism, and anything you can think of,
we had death by PowerPoint. And so it’s crazy to hear
that people wouldn’t welcome different minorities home. And then when I came
home, to see everybody loves you because it
was a lot different. When I was joining, and I
would tell my friends, that I’m going into the military,
they kind of made fun of me, and like, oh, you
don’t know what you’re going to
do with your life, and you’re joining the military. And then it was funny to
see that switch from when I came home to being like,
I’m this hero and all I did was push papers, you know? So it was a big,
weird thing for me. So and everyone just like loves
you, and welcomes you home, and thank you for
your service, and it’s weird to hear about these
other stories from Vietnam and everything like that because
I never experienced anything like that. It’s a different
military, I would say. Some things haven’t changed,
but most things have, and hopefully, they keep
progressing forward. But I had a lot of fun. I wouldn’t do it again, but
I definitely had a blast. I had a blast. It definitely improved my life
more than you can imagine, and I’m just happy to be here
with these wonderful folks, and that’s my story. Thank you, Charles. I guess, I’d be an
interesting intersection between some racial
things and gender things and modern things. I don’t really know
how to start this, but when I joined
the Army, I knew that I wasn’t a
really good citizen, and I knew that I couldn’t
go to school and succeed. Those were messages
that I received, and those were messages
that I absolutely believed, and so they became true. So I snuck into the Army. I didn’t tell my family. I got married one day at
18, and then the next day joined the Army, and then
went home and told my mom. And then I called
my dad and told him. And the Army was the best
decision that I ever made. I would absolutely
do it again, but only because the Army
made me a woman. The Army taught me
how to be responsible. The Army taught me
how to have a voice. The Army taught me
that I can be educated, but the Army also told me every
single day that I was a woman. The Army also told me every
single day that I was black. The Army told me every single
day that I was different. And so there’s like
this really funny thing about being on time,
in the right place, in the right uniform,
and then still being expected to have sex
with the entire barracks. So how are you going to
have response– you know, respect for yourself when
people are expecting you to– the term is put out. You going to put
out for a promotion. You’re going to put out
for a different thing. Right? And so you either
have to pretend to be gay, become gay, be
stupid, or become extremely antisocial in order
to protect yourself. Or you have to figure
out a way in order to navigate the system to win. So we have people here from
a different era figured out how to navigate the
system, and speak on behalf of the people who
do not have a voice right now. There’s people who do
not have their benefits. There are Tuskegee Airmen who
died in service who have yet to be respected and honored. There are women who
will never be honored. In this dichotomy of respect,
to be treated with respect, constantly, thank
you for your service. Thank you for your service. You know, in a space
like, this it’s obvious that I’m a veteran. The card says it. I showed up here. But when I’m out in public,
I don’t dress like this. I generally don’t wear makeup. I speak the same
way, but I don’t say that I’m a veteran
because until I do, I get treated like a
regular black person. You know, second-class
citizen here. You know, whatever the
particular bias is at the time that I intersect with
somebody, and I also have my own biases that
create the intersection, but when I say that I’m a
veteran, all of a sudden it’s like I move up a tiny
bit in the social class, and my credibility is raised. I had no credibility
when I was in the Army. I had to have either
someone of a higher rank, someone of a different color,
or someone of a different gender to say, Smith is
telling the truth. And it’s a really
belittling feeling to say, why don’t you show
up and fight every day? Why don’t you show
up and do your best? Why don’t you pay for
your own uniforms? And then when you’re in
the different vehicles, you have your
sergeants telling you to strap up and get
out and pull it, and in all sorts of
different racial, gender– there’s a lot of
violence that can happen. But I would do it again
because it made me a woman. I was not able to communicate
until I left the Army. And I left by the
skin of my teeth, but it saved my life
because where I was headed before was absolutely nowhere. And so I just happened to make
a right turn, and left turn, and now I’m here
to tell my story. Most of it is luck. And half of it is just
showing up, and then living. I would like to
make a correction. I believe it was Mr. Delgado
who said that the way that all minorities were
treated when they came back from Vietnam. It wasn’t just all minorities. It was all– it was the idea
that if you were a Vietnam veteran, coming back, it
didn’t make any difference what color you were. If you were a Vietnam vet,
you were a baby killer. You were a drug addict. You are the worst that
you could be, you know? Also, if I may, James Banks,
I studied under James Bank at the University of Washington. Probably one of the
best known, if not the most known, individual
that writes about diversity in this country. And, as he put it when I took
his class, and he was right, we don’t write the history. We make history, but we
don’t write the history. And history begins from
the east to the west. And so most minorities,
if you look at it in a historical context, are
in the Midwest and the west, except for the Native
Americans who were in the east when the white folks arrived. But since we don’t
write the history, then our history
is not out there. But we know our history, those
of us who have read history. If you look at conflicts
and wars and police actions, as they call some of them,
there are many groups that have served very proudly. One’s already been mentioned
here, the Tuskegee Airmen. The 65th in Korea. Tuskegee was World War II. Code Talkers, Navajo Code
Talkers, World War II. The 442, all Japanese,
fought in Italy when their parents were
in concentration camps. The 201st squadron,
all Mexicans. Fought in Philippines. Only lost one plane, one pilot. That’s history. And who are they defending? Who are they fighting for? The United States of America. But what about their history? Where is it? Have you read about it? Have you picked up
a book that says, the US history of America? Have you turned to
some page, where you can see this or read it? Those are the things that I’m
interested in because we’re all interested in education,
and information sharing, and gaining knowledge of who
we are, what we’re made of, what our character is, what
we give to this country. So that’s what I wanted to say. To piggyback real quick
off you, I totally agree with what she was saying
about the stigma with women inside the military,
100% There’s definitely a division between men and
women, and on the putting out part is– I would say, I had never
encountered it myself but I definitely have heard
stories about, and seen women– OK. So when men have like working
parties, or the whole group, or the command has
working parties, it was almost in spite of
women that they couldn’t pull their weight so to speak,
or they have to do more, or they’re not doing enough,
you know what I’m saying? So that was a big thing
I encountered with women, that I noticed was
in the military is that they always get
treated differently. Like, almost harder. Like for them being a women,
it was almost harder for them because it’s more work. You know, there
was like, you need to work harder to be equal
to us, to do something, and it was– I definitely agree
with that 100%. So it wasn’t as
strong where I was. I was up in Washington
and in Hawaii, so it was very, very smooth. But there are
definitely instances like that in the military
still to this day. So, you know– You all shared some
powerful things. I want to thank each of you
for some of the things that were just shared. I want to ask Donna and Jordan,
in light of some of the things you shared, if there was a
woman in this audience that was thinking about joining one
of the branches of the service, what advice would you give her? What would you tell her? I love this country,
and so I would recommend that a woman go
and serve this country. The important thing
that I would say, and Jordan and I had talked
about this previously when we had our interview,
is despite the timing and how many years we are
past the time that I was in, you’d have to be really
careful about the relationships with your supervisor
or with other people there because it happens. I had the Army
precedent-setting discrimination case because as a woman, I got
promoted to Sergeant Major, and nobody would give me a job. And what happened was that
they investigated, found out it was true, and said, one
of the people that previously was in one of my
companies, he put on the Chief of Staff
of the Army’s table my resignation based
on discrimination. And so where the
Army at that time– it was really rough on
me, and really difficult. The end result of it was that
they did their investigation. They apologized to me. They made me the Eighth
Army IG Sergeant Major, so I got my credibility back. I don’t think that
there’s another profession in the world that can give you
the satisfaction that you feel by being a member
of the military and knowing that you’re
willing to die for this country because it’s so
important to you. So I got my
undergraduate work, I got my graduate work paid for
by the military because of my GI Bill. So I learned so much as a
person and expanded so much from that young person
who didn’t know anything, and I’d say if you have the
opportunity, jump at it. I guess, when you’re
31 like myself, people can’t tell
how old you are. You can range between
whatever age you look like in the
morning to whatever age you look like at night, and I
have young women still ask me about joining the military. And I agree. If that’s what you want to
do, I encourage you to do it. But if you have
some hard questions, I encourage you to ask them. Just what she said, just
like what Donna said, I do talk about being safe
as a woman in the presence of anybody else because
it’s perceived as, if you don’t respect
yourself, then no one is going to respect you. When really, that
argument can be re-framed, if a woman is not
respected for being a woman what type of violence is
going to be acceptable upon her, with her? And I also consider the race
of the woman who’s asking me. I also have young
men ask me about it, and I also consider their race. I have young men who are new
to this country say, oh, I want to join the Army. I hear that I’ll be able
to get my citizenship. And I say, you know what,
if you join, we actually respect you more for going to
get your citizenship because we know how hard it
is for you, but I want you to know that you’re
going to be disrespected. And that’s almost
the biggest surprise to people is, well,
what do you mean, I’m going to be disrespected? I’m like, well you’re dealing
with institutional racism. There are things
that are acceptable against your personhood
because of what you look like. And that is a big
shock to people who are not from this country
that that institutional racism, genderism, other-isms are
still pervasive and acceptable. But I also explain
the good things. The VA saved my life,
and I go into that story depending on the woman,
on how they saved my life. They paid for my
education, are continuing to pay for my education, and
my goal is to go work at the VA so I can continue to
give back to the VA. I also explain to women
that if you are deployed, your children are going
to be legally signed over to someone else. A lot of people don’t know that. When you go to another country
to fight for your country, you cannot have
legal responsibility of your biological children
because if you die, the paperwork needs to be in
order for them to be taken care of stateside, immediately. That goes for any single parent. I’ve seen fathers who
are single parents do the same thing I’ve seen a
single mother of six do that. The sacrifice for
the country is big. That’s all I have
for this question. Fransisco, you wanted
to add something? I also wanted to say
that for many women, like men or minorities,
the military is a way to improve your life. It’s a way to get out
of where you’re at, and sometimes, you don’t
get good experiences when you’re in the
military, but it is a way to improve your life. And obviously it’s a
way to get an education. You can use the GI bill. But I wanted to go back
to make a couple comments. And again, I’m a history buff,
and it’s inconceivable to me, and maybe– I hope you have
thought about this– that we fought World War
II roughly four years, a little bit over four years. And during those years, not
a single African American or a single Asian American was
awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. It took a black president to
take care of that situation. After they did
their investigations and found out that the bravery
of the African Americans during World War II, and the
bravery of the Asian Americans, many of those errors
were corrected, and a great number
of African Americans were awarded the
Congressional Medal of Honor, and so were Asian Americans. So I just cannot believe that
these individuals went to war, and not a single one belonging
that minority groups was ever awarded a Congressional
Medal of Honor. It was pretty small. And I think that what that is is
an example of power structures. Whose stories are getting told? Who’s being honored? Who’s being respected? And it’s another way to write
somebody else’s history. I apologize for interrupting. I’m going to cut in real quick. It is definitely
a power structure, 100% power structure. When I said, I won’t join again
just because I’m a free bird, and I’m all about being free,
and all that nonsense, just living my life type stuff, but
the only reason I wouldn’t join is just because it didn’t
fit me as a person, not because I didn’t like it. I had great experiences
in the military. I had a blast. I have greatly improved my life. It gave me structure. It gave me discipline. It gave me a goal
in life to complete. It got me from
point A to point B, and taught me how to get
there, and that’s one thing the military will do for you. If you have questions,
ask a veteran. If you have questions, ask
them the hard questions. Ask them what you really want
to know, not the generic, what’s it like in the military? What’s this? Ask them the hard stuff. Ask them what you really want to
know because we will tell you. We will tell you straight up,
and we’ll not hiding anything. We’re not going to say, oh it’s
all fairy tales and pixie dust or whatever. It’s hard. It’s hard, and it’s a power
structure, it’s a power climb. I worked with a lot of
officers, being enlisted, so I’ve seen what people will
do to step on other people to get to a higher
place in the military. That’s where it is. It’s a ladder. It’s a ladder you got to
climb if you want to stay in, and it’s up to you if
you want to do that, and you have to be willing
to give up some freedoms, and be willing to take
some negative comments, and some horrible stuff about
like racism and discrimination and all that stuff. You just, sometimes,
you have to take that if you want to move
forward in the military. And it sucks that that
is what I’m saying, but that is just the truth. That that’s the
way it is, and it’s a lot easier than it is now– or it is a lot easier now
than it was back then. I can say that, and– but ask a veteran. Yeah. Ask us what it’s like. On Come to us. Ask us the hard questions. We’re going to
tell you the truth. But there’s one thing that
I guess we all agree is, it improves your life. It gives you that courage
to stand up for yourself in a civilian setting. You know what I’m you saying? It gives you the
courage to lead, which is what I’ve
learned, is to be a leader instead of a follower,
and to make your own choices. So yeah. Thank you. Thank you. You’ve all talked in one degree
or another about your return home, and experience about that. How would you like your
service to be commemorated? Well, I think for that for
Vietnam veterans, right now, President Obama, of course,
before he left office, he made the proclamation of
honoring the Vietnam veterans with the 50th anniversary of
the Vietnam War, which will last until, I believe, 2025. So we’re having these ceremonies
throughout the country, these events. We’re having one in
Redmond on the 10th, and we had Joe Galloway here
in Shoreline Community College, honoring Vietnam veterans
and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. I think it’s a way
for this country to recognize what many of
us that served in Vietnam went through. It’s a way to honor us. It’s a way to say
that, welcome home. Your treatment wasn’t fair. It’s a way to thank us. It’s a way to give
us the opportunity to not linger with the
thoughts, the negative thoughts, and the unfair thoughts. You have to thank the
Vietnam veterans, especially the new war veterans of
Afghanistan and Iraq. Because if it wasn’t for
the Vietnam veterans, there wouldn’t be no PTSD
legislation and compensation. If it wasn’t for the
Vietnam veterans of America and the Vietnam veterans, there
wouldn’t be no Agent Orange recognition. If it wasn’t for the
Vietnam veterans of America, there wouldn’t be any
legislation regarding toxins and dioxins that
are affecting our children and our grandchildren. And we’re trying to pass
legislation on that now. So I think this
country will someday recognize the Vietnam
veteran, and the courage and the bravery and the
honor that they brought to this country, There
was a series not long ago, just a week ago or so,
maybe two weeks ago, Burns did the Vietnam War series. That’s still up in
the air, as far as, how people are going
to react about it. I’ve already heard some
good things about it, and I’ve heard some
negative things about it. We don’t know yet. But I think, as
Joe Galloway said, when was the last time
you thought about Vietnam? And he said last night,
and it’s true for many of us who served in Vietnam. But the good thing is that
the Iraqi and the Afghanistan and future conflicts that we
get into will be better off. They will be treated much
more fairly and much more welcoming home. I don’t expect any kind of
individual adulation or things for me. There are two things
that I remember. One, I was hoping–
you guys are students. Most of you are, that you
Google the Montagnards. That’s the tribe in Vietnam
that I worked with, served with, and all that. The indigenous tribe
mountainous tribe. You will not hear
anything currently about the Montagnards. They are more than second-class. They’re third-class citizens,
especially now that the Vietnam government is there. Their provinces are
all but wiped out. So Google that,
Montagnards, and you’ll be here the rest of the night. I think I told you earlier
that when I went to Vietnam, I was not a happy camper
because I could not vote, and that my best friend– childhood friend
was shot was killed. I was telling that to a Secret
Service officer that I knew, and he knew the governor of
Alabama, and he told him that. And in 1987, 20 years later, I
received in the mail from him, and it was specially
delivered, a proclamation from the governor appointing me
as a Admiral, honorary Admiral, in the Alabama Navy, and that
just shocked the hell out of me. But things sometimes go around. Things in this
world go round, so I think my thing is, if you
do what you know is right, and from there, whatever comes
out will be to your advantage. I was just amazed by
what the females here said about their service,
and to be very honest, I was pretty ignorant of that
because again, my background was infantry. And that’s combat arms, and
that’s male soldiers fighting, and I always said the worst
thing, the most powerful drug, is a 18-year-old
with testosterone. Just like him. You want to go fight. I mean, young kids, boys– people understand the power. Young people go to war
old people direct the war. And so that’s what we have to be
vigilant about, especially now, in this country that we
don’t get into a crazy– and you have to
raise your voices– encounter for nothing, for
ego because war is hell. No body wins. Nobody wins, and I don’t want
to be too serious about it, but I think we are
in serious times that we need to look at where
we’re going as a nation, and how we look at
the armed forces. They’re there to protect us,
not to go and decree our power on other people of the world. I don’t want any
recognition for myself. I’m a retired Sergeant Major. Everybody knows
I’m a Vietnam vet or whatever, but I have a
strong feeling that I want these women recognized,
these 863 total, and I have to tell you,
this is the group that’s been completely overlooked. People don’t know. They’re not getting
the recognition. They’re dying. But when I started this
book, back in 2013, the National Archives
gave me five pictures. These are supposed
to be Vietnam vets. Three pictures are of a friend
of mine, Sherri [? Asmus, ?] at the reception
station while she was having her hearing test,
not when she was in Vietnam. The other was two pictures
of an Air Force women. That’s all they had. Now what happened
is next week, I’m going into the
National Archives, and I’m going on the
first day of their exhibit remembering Vietnam. I’m an honorary member of
their honorary committee, and I will be speaking to
over 1,000 people, I’m told, on the subject of these women. That’s what I want
to be able to do. That Freedom’s Foundation threw
me out to Valley Forge for me to give a presentation. So there were 60
graduate teachers from around the
country, and I got to go and present the story. So it’s important to me
that I get them honored. Now, I have a– for the book, I did a
PowerPoint presentation. It’s got a 38 PowerPoints and
then a 49-page lesson plan. I give it to anybody
that wants it. The DOD is going to be
putting it on their web site. All you have to
do is ask for it. Change your name. I mean, my name. Put your name on there. Just go out and
educate the world. That’s what is important
to me that we don’t have these women overlooked. I 100% agree with everything. I think recognition
is a big part of it. I wouldn’t say individual
recognition, as so much. As for me, I work in the
Veterans’ Center here, and I speak to a
lot of the vets, and I don’t think any of them
want individual recognition. I think it’s just recognition
as a whole for ourselves that we did serve,
and a recognition for our fallen
brothers and sisters is big, for their service. But I want to press
support more than anything. It’s just support. My biggest thing getting
out was I was scared. I was scared no
one was going to– I was going to fit in properly. People weren’t going to
be there for me like some of the people that
were in the military because it’s a very
tight community and we kind of stuck together. But when I came when
here, I was very worried about the whole school system,
and people just supporting me, just being able
to be there, and I could talk to them
about the transition, which is really hard. And I met Missy Anderson
and Derrick Levy came by, and I met him shortly
after, and they’re pushing great, great
services here at the school. We have Got Your Six,
which is amazing. It’s training for the
faculty and staff, and our students can do it
as well, but all it does is help them better
recognize how hard it is just to transition from a military
life to civilian life. It’s very difficult fitting in. I’m sure some of you who
do are taking classes here have seen a veteran in
your class of some sort. It’s usually– have a
beard, sitting in the back, not talking to anyone. Kind of lonely. Looks mean all the time. We’re not mean. We’re just– we don’t
know how to talk to people that are not military members. We need you guys to come
up to us and talk to us. We try our best. We’re just trying
our best to fit in and that’s what we’re trying
to do is blend in, as much as possible, not stand out. So I think, support. Like supporting us. Coming to the Vet Center
and learning about us, learning about what we’ve
done, and what we do now. So I think that’s
the biggest thing for me is I want to be able
to go to other schools who with less of a
veterans’ program and I want to be able to see people
who are interested in us, or are interested in this. There’s empty seats
here, is what I’m saying. Support is our biggest
thing because it sucks when you come back. I can’t even imagine. It sucks when you come back
and people are not there. People don’t care. That’s the worst feeling you
can get because you served. You fought for the country
in any which way or form, and it just sucks to not
be recognized and supported by people that we
fought for, to protect. The freedoms that you’re– to
sit here now is the biggest thing. So just show your support
and come to these things. Go to the flag raising ceremony. That’s November 7th I think
that is the best way that you can do for us veterans. So, my opinion Good point. Oh, yeah. I guess is the horse has
been beat to death here. It’s not about
personal recognition. It’s about recognition
of the whole. Knowing history seems to be
very, very interesting topic for a country that you look
around, everything is new. Nothing seems to
really represent how things were 10, 15,
20, any amount of time. And just realizing that there’s
a lot of different stories. I mean, I’m a black woman
who’s also a Alaskan native. And I didn’t even know how
many stories there were. My son, he’s half Dominican. It was like him being born
just kind of opened up my world a little
bit more to realizing that the people that I served
with, even though I knew they were from all
around the world, it didn’t occur to me
that their struggles would be different from my own. It didn’t even enter my mind. And I just– that’s
the thing that I want to express is that everyone
has a very different story, and what keeps us together
is the uniform and our love for the nation. And I think that’s
really that all I had. Just keep in mind that
there are differences. Thank you. At this time, I’d like to
invite members of the audience, if they’d like to
ask a question. They have a microphone that
will be working itself around. If you just want
to raise your hand. My name is [? Cad, ?] from
Shoreline Community College. So it sounded like
there’s an older generation in the military, and
then the younger generation. That’s how I feel like. No, no, no. I didn’t mean it that way– More experienced. Yeah. Exactly. As being a vet, how
are you guys looking at the younger generation? For example, you guys
are more like I’m suffering from the enemies or
suffering from the social issue that kind of problems. I hear a lot of that
kind of problems, and then on the
right side, I hear a lot of more like
the question I might– it sounded like why I struggle
with something like, you know? It’s like personal, more like
personal kind of struggle, and you guys have some
like suffering and fear, and then struggling
with a society. That’s how it sounded like. So how are you guys looking
at the younger generation? As, yeah, the older generation? And reason I do
because they are, from my perspective,
my daughters, four daughter in my household. I never won any
kind of argument. But they are more accepting. Now you got to
understand, all are from a different generation. I came up in the ’60s,
where it was really, really segregation
and discrimination. And being an officer,
I was one of– not many officers were black. When I went on active duty,
I had my black Sergeant, who was so proud of me,
he would come in my office every morning to make
sure that I looked, strike, as he called it. In other words, my uniform,
my hair was all taken care of. It was that kind of thought. And we were a country
much different to the day. Even though there was blatant
discrimination and all that, the opportunity was less. I had to go to places on
base for entertainment. I couldn’t go to Costco. We didn’t have a Costco. So I went to the
commissary and the PX. So it was just a different
era and all of us represent a different era,
but I think the biggest thing that the military is really
a microcosm of the society that we all live in. And– but the military,
because of structure, you can oftentimes navigate
it differently and more successfully. Just because I was
an officer, had rank, I didn’t have to put
up with some stuff that I would do on the outside. I just said, do it, and did it. So it is different in that
kind of thing the structure, wouldn’t you say? I would say that it is
our responsibility, if not our obligation,
to pass on what we have learned to the new
generation of veterans. Our motto, Vietnam
Veterans of America, is, never again will one
generation of veterans abandon another because
we know what it’s like. We lived it, and we don’t
want our brothers and sisters from Afghanistan and
Iraq and other places in this world where
we’re involved in to go through the same thing. And I think we’ve
been successful. That is why they’re not being– they’re not treated
like we were treated. That is why their GI bill
has increased tremendously. That is why, when a life is
lost in Afghanistan and in Iraq, their benefits and
their families’ benefits are sky high compared to
a Vietnam veteran that was killed in Vietnam. His life was worth $10,000. That’s all. So I think we have
the obligation to pass this on to the new
generation of veterans, so that they will
be treated fairly. I think Vietnam Veterans of
America had done a good job. I think I’m going to add
a little contrast to that. They had it way harder
than I think we had. Way harder, not only
when you were joining, there was physical abuse,
which they can’t do now. But when they got
out, obviously they had to deal with
a lot of social– like you were saying,
a lot of social abuse. And yeah. I didn’t have to deal with that. I got– I had an easy boot camp. I had– I just got screamed at. I didn’t get beat like– you know, I worked
out a little bit, but compared to what they had. They had it way
harder, and they’re– I don’t know. I come from the
easy millennial era. And I’m only seeing it
getting easier and easier with boot camp getting– they can’t scream at you
without people getting, yeah, it’s getting more easy. So kudos. Kudos. That’s compared to what I’m– this is nothing. Me joining, compared
to the Vietnam era. It’s easy. Easy day for me. So– And I do think that it is our
generation, the three of us, all the people that
are Vietnam vets, we do not want to have
the next generation and the next
generation to suffer like some of these people are. I mean we still have people
that have severe PTSD and 50 years later
are having nightmares. That is just unacceptable. So I think– I was telling Jordan,
I was so happy when we were talking about
some things, when I hear people talk about PTSD now. There was no term when
Vietnam vets came back. I know a couple of
guys from Chehalis that when they came back
one went to the bush for three years. The other one went to the bush
for five years in Centralia because they could
not deal with it. There were no programs today,
it’s like you talk to people, and they say, yeah, I have PTSD. I love that they can feel
good, and that people are not looking at them
like they’re crazy, that they’re going to
get angry, that they’re going to be a problem. I mean, we’ve come
so far with that, that I am just really,
really pleased. Hi. My name’s Jason. Kind of bouncing off the
ideas of Francisco and Donna, I have a two part question
through the Vietnam era vets. How do you think the Vietnam
era affected mental health care in the military
and what were the attitudes towards people
with mental illnesses? I think we’ve
changed a great deal. First of all, PTSD, we
keep using that acronym, but it’s for post-traumatic
stress disorder. OK? That’s what it stands for. World War II they used
to call it, shell shock. It wasn’t such a thing, then. But I think– and I
mentioned this earlier. It’s because of the Vietnam
veterans who, many of us returned back, many
of us hid, many of us have little communities. We still have little
communities, believe it or not, Vietnam veterans
in this country. Humboldt County, California. Hawaii. North Carolina. Georgia. You name it. We have little
communities of veterans that don’t want to be
part of the big society, the big America because of
post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s a mental problem,
and it doesn’t go away. It will be with you for
the rest of your life. I have it. And so, it didn’t exist, but
because of the Vietnam veterans and because of all the studies
that we forced the VA to do, they recognized it. And so that’s the big change. That’s the big
mental health change, and it’s part of
this system now. That’s why many of the
Afghanistan and Iraq veterans that are
coming back, they also suffer from post-traumatic
stress disorder. So it’s recognized,
and not only recognize it’s part of the system,
the mental health system. I still go see my shrink once
a month at the VA hospital. It doesn’t go away. The comment about combat
is hell, war is hell. It’s true. It wasn’t something
that you discussed when you came back from ‘Nam. You hid it from people. You didn’t get any help because
there was no help out there, I mean, for anybody to give you. So people have really suffered
from that, 50 years later and they’re still
having nightmares. I mean, it’s awful. It’s awful that that
is happening to them. So now we talk openly
about mental health. And that’s what we
should be talking about. What somebody said to me
about somebody going to Iraq. This young man was
explaining that, I have PTSD, and yeah, people
know that I have it, and they say, well,
you should have it. Under those circumstances,
you should have it, so it’s not a problem. That’s a big change
from when we came back. So I really like it
that there are programs in place for the
younger veterans, so that they don’t
have to suffer. Can you imagine not being able
to talk to anybody about that? Especially the men because
they’re macho and there they are, the infantry
guys, which I’ve known Bill for a long
time, so here we have it. You think that he
would do something that would happen to him over there? No. I mean because it just
wasn’t something manly that you would do. You would just
suffer in silence. Called sucking it up. I’m glad those days are over. Hi. My name is Malia. So first, I want to get
some background from what I think you guys were saying. So I heard that the younger
people are going into the war, but the older people
are ruling in war– not the war, but the
troops and everything. But it kind of sounds like
the younger generation is a little surprised by all
the stories that you have told, and if they’re kind of
supposed to go in there and be leaders and try to
change the way that people are discriminated
against, but they don’t know about the history. I mean, are you guys kind
of surprised by that? I mean, is there
anything about history that is taught into the
going to the military before they enter the service
or anything like that? Well, I think you’re kind of
correct in your assessment. I did a presentation at Puget
Sound College in Puyallup. And it dawned to me
that all of the students there didn’t know anything about
Vietnam, not even the fathers, but the grandfathers. Americans are notorious for
not understanding history, and sometime will come
to roost on us because we have to understand history
not to really create some of the things in the future. But– so I think your
assessment is correct. The things that we went through,
the younger generations go, what? Why did you do that? And we are looking at the
younger generations and saying, oh, maybe you had it easy. And it’s not easy. There’s nothing easy
about any of this. But it’s that we tend to forget. We forget things that are hard. When I, being infantry,
again, in the infantry, if somebody said, oh,
I’ve got problems. I can’t sleep. And then we’ll say, hey,
you need to suck it up. Yeah. You need to come– and that’s stayed
that way for a while, and that’s the reason that many
Vietnam veterans at one time, I think– I could be wrong about
statistic, about 40% of the homeless people, men
were Vietnam era veterans. And somehow– and they didn’t
go to the VA for medication. They medicated on booze. And then, I don’t know
when that changed, but the whole thing about
mental health change, and then– so it’s a good area now that
people are talking about it and getting treated
for the things. I don’t know if I
had post- stress. I know there are
certain things I can’t– I still can’t deal with. Things on TV,
shoot-em-up, bang, bang. I won’t watch it. I go to a movie and
I’ll just say, oh, I got to go get
something, and just leave. And I’m sure it has
something to do with it, but I’m too dumb
to figure it out. So I just leave the situation. I also think that that was
the Vietnam era is something you didn’t talk about. You got spit– they got spit on. They got called baby killers. They got– it was something
that– they weren’t honored when they came back. It was something that you
don’t just speak about and, I know my dad
went to Vietnam, and I still don’t really know
what happened over there. He doesn’t speak about it. It’s just– like
she was saying, it’s just one of those things
you don’t talk about, and it’s still kind of
a stigma that way today. It’s more awareness
of trying to bring more awareness to Vietnam,
but there’s still not enough. You know what I’m saying? That’s the differences. Yeah, and we’re really bad
at remembering our history. I know when I joined I knew
nothing about the military. Nothing. I was joining blind. And then when you
talk to recruiters, they don’t they’re
not going to tell you, you know what I’m saying? They’re not going to
tell you, oh, this is what Vietnam was like. This is what they went through. This is– no one is going
to say anything like that. They’re just going to
want you to come in. They want you to join. So that was just an era that
nobody really speaks about. It’s a dark mark in
the military history. You know what I’m saying? So I think bringing more
awareness to it, alone, nowadays is what we should do. Yeah. Yeah. We’re out of time. This is a follow up to that. To what extent is this unique– this not wanting to talk about
it– unique to the Vietnam generation? I’m thinking, my now
deceased father lot was a was a veteran
of World War II, and it was only after he
passed that the family found a lot of papers, and they found
out more about what he did. We knew in general
terms what he did. He served in the Navy in
the Pacific for seven years, from the time that Pearl Harbor
was attacked until after, and it was before that even. But he went through– he was in
some pretty horrendous battles, but they didn’t really
know about that. So I’m just wondering,
does this tendency– maybe this is the exception,
the 21st century generation, where we do talk about. Although, I’ve got friends who
served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they don’t talk
about it very much. And I don’t ask very
much because I’m not sure they want to talk
about it very much. So I just wonder
how unique this is? We do it all the time. The most forgotten
war is the Korean War. They have their own
issues and own thing, but some of the same
themes run though. We forgot about them. They had post-traumatic stress. They call it shell shocked. They, when they came
home, we didn’t say, glad for your service. We just say, OK. You’re back now. But it repeats itself. The only thing that don’t
repeat is the people who commemorate the Civil War. Think about that for a while. Just think about it. The Civil War. That’s a different thing
and I won’t go that. Jordan, did you have
something you wanted to say? No. I lost the chain of my thought. Sorry. Bill, I want to thank
you on behalf of my dad and many others for mentioning
the Korean War because that is the main thing he shared
with his children was, the Forgotten War. He was very involved with his
VFW, but he did not share. I think it was different,
also, with even his children, civilians versus
other service members who could relate to his buddies. I want to ask y’all to please
join me in giving our panel of veterans another round of
applause and thank them for– [APPLAUSE]


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