The Greater Dallas Veterans Day Parade scheduled to take place Monday at 11 a.m. has been canceled. The decision was made due to concerns about the forecast of rain and temperatures in the 30s and 40s and the safety of spectators and participants.
While the call to cancel the parade was a wise move, it must be remembered that those who served in the U.S. military faced far worse conditions at times and deserve understanding, gratitude and support every day.
An example of this need is the Vietnam War vets. Linda and Dr. Les Secrest and their daughters have just returned to Dallas from the American Psychiatric Association’s Thursday wreath-laying ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
As Dr. James Batterson pointed out, “The mental health professionals faced a set of military, moral and mental health challenges that up to this point were unprecedented making the job of treating soldiers in combat all the more difficult. The nature of the combat was unlike any that the U.S. military had encountered in prior conflicts and had different effects on our soldiers.”
Unlike their counterparts, these mental health experts dealt not with broken bones, bleeding out or lost limbs. Their challenge was much more stealth. It was helping people whose lives had not prepared them for a theater of war. And, no, it was not new. Soldiers over the centuries had returned from the battlefield mentally damaged. There are those who claim that Harper Lee‘s Boo Radley was an example of a World War I shell-shocked vet was not quite right upon returning home.
But thanks to the developments and advocacy of psychiatry, minds damaged from battlefield sights, sounds and atrocities were being acknowledged and addressed. Vietnam was a major, but still not enough of a, step up in the dealing with soldiers’ mental health.
Linda recalled, “Veterans returning from Vietnam were not welcomed or thanked for their service like every other war in history. When they returned from service, most were treated with disdain.”
Luckily, that attitude has changed over the decades, but not enough. So if you know a vet, especially a Vietnam vet, thank them for their service. If you don’t, find one to know and show your appreciation. And if your “friends dance card” is all filled out, donate to a reputable veterans’ support organization.