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Posted: 11/9/2012 6:17:58 AM EDT
I find it interesting how varying the treatment has been towards our soldiers when returning from war.  You can add Revolutionary, Indian, Civil, and probably a few dozen more smaller conflicts, Cuba, Philippines, etc...   Yes, I am from the baby killer era, and suffered the indignation of my fellow citizens, however I do not believe my generation suffered the worst treatment.  I at least had benefits like the GI bill to help.  I kind of wonder if the good treatment of our returning soldiers today isn't mostly because Vietnam vets, now of age, having been there and done that, are doing the thanking.  I don't really know that's just a thought, what do you think?

And I would not place Vietnam vets at the top of the mistreated list.  I think the toughest war to return from would have been the Civil War, constant reminders, no benefits to mention, emotions still running high.  As the most poorly treated however, I would place the WWI vets, especially those that survived the BONUS MARCH on Washington DC.  What's that about US military not taking action on US soil against US citizens.  Well, Kent State wasn't the first time, it was Washington DC and several unarmed vets were shot to death by the then current military, among those doing the shooting a future president and a future medal of honor winner (which is pretty much BS as generals that are out of harms way should never get this medal).  I'm not sure if any of the WWI vets ever got paid what was due them as part of the reason they were there in the first place was the start of the great depression, I doubt they ever got the Bonuses due them.

I do see at least a glimmer of a pattern though, WWI treated poorly, WWII treated better.  I wonder if the generation that was treated poorly when returning from war is more thankful of the next generation when they return knowing something about what they went through.  I don't know if the reverse is also there as a pattern.  After being treated well do they then poorly treat the next generation?

Honestly, I don't know enough about how the others were treated to really formulate a list, but I do think that this generation of soldiers are getting the best ever reception when returning home, and that's good.  That's how I wish I would have been treated, and is that not the golden rule?
Link Posted: 11/9/2012 9:31:20 AM EDT
I think no matter the war, there's always been some kind of crappy reception someone had.  Most vets I spoke to all had some kind of bad situation happen.  Most of them said a lot of it came from their own family members.  Here's a few gems from folks I knew,

1) My great uncle came home from WW2.  He was in the 82nd Airborne, made all their big jumps.  Comes home to find out his folks pissed away the money he sent home for them they even raided the money he saved for himself.  To top it off his piece of shit brother stole his girlfriend.  Needless to say he packed his dufflebag and headed out west and had a very successful career doing explosive demolitions work for the .gov.

2) A Korean war vet I met was a guest of the Chicoms for a few years.  He gets home after the ceasefire and tried to talk to his Mom about his time in the camps.  She told him he was full of it and doesn't want to hear about it anymore.  To say they had a strained relationship after that is an understatement.

3) A Vietnam vet I knew made it back after a year with the 1st Cavalry Division.  He was in a Blue Platoon and spent a good deal of time recovering downed helicopters under fire.  He gets home, gets a very muted almost uncaring reception from his family.  Next he goes down to the neighborhood bar and gets told by WW2 vets his war wasn't really a war.  He gets drunk and goes home to bed.  The first thing his Dad tells him the next morning, "Well war hero, hows bout you find a job now, we could use the money around here."  He left home and as far as I know, he never returned.

4) My father in law had garbage and who knows what else dumped on him from dirty fucking hippies as they passed under the Golden Gate Bridge on the USS Coral Sea.  

All I got after OIF was everyone asking me stupid fucking questions like, "Did ya kill anyone?' Or my all time favorite, "Do you think we should be there because I read in Time magazine, blah, blah, blah."  I also got the whole baby killer speech a few times too.  

All in all most people are stupid and will say what they think they need to say to returning veterans.  No matter what someone says who wasn't there or didn't serve isn't going to help.  Just leave it alone.  Personally, I don't need to hear thank you's, I don't care if you support me, I just did my job.  I think if people want to help, don't bug the guy in uniform trying to buy groceries or have a meal with his family during what little time they have off, go to a veterans home and help, cut grass and tend to a veterans grave, give money to any number of veterans groups, just leave me be while I'm trying to get through my day.
Link Posted: 12/2/2012 6:45:06 AM EDT
I found most don't care, unless It is a job interview then it's
you got PTSD? TBI?
For the most part though lress than 10 nonvets nonarfcom members really have asked about the 8.5 years I served
Link Posted: 12/20/2012 4:28:06 PM EDT
I've had a book on my shelves for about 20 years. Get a copy of it as it's a good read on this very subject.


The Wages Of War , When Americas soldiers came home-from Valeey forge to Vietnam.

By Richard Severo & Lewis Milford  ISBN 0-671-54325-3
Link Posted: 12/21/2012 5:05:39 PM EDT
My cousin did a thesis on the treatment of Civil War veterans. I'll have to ask about the particulars, but CW veterans did not have it easy.
Link Posted: 12/22/2012 2:25:12 PM EDT
Yeah especially the Confederate troops.  When the war ended they were told to get walking.
Link Posted: 1/8/2013 7:50:35 PM EDT
Like the guy above said, I think the OIF/OEF generation are constantly faced by the "did you kill anyone?" "what's Afghanistan/Iraq like?" questions, which reflects the "I want experience RIGHT NOW but without earning it instinct that is currently common among our generation... But, I would assume that those questions were the least of anyone's worries during the Vietnam War and before...
Link Posted: 1/9/2013 7:32:29 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ek207108:
Like the guy above said, I think the OIF/OEF generation are constantly faced by the "did you kill anyone?" "what's Afghanistan/Iraq like?" questions, which reflects the "I want experience RIGHT NOW but without earning it instinct that is currently common among our generation... But, I would assume that those questions were the least of anyone's worries during the Vietnam War and before...


I don't think returning veterans from wars prior would have faced questions much different from those. What are you trying to get at?
Link Posted: 1/15/2013 8:13:08 AM EDT
No matter the era theres always some dumbass who just had to ask the question.  I can see it now, some returning Crusader in England got asked, " Did you kill any Saracens at Acre?"
Link Posted: 1/15/2013 10:54:31 AM EDT
The US has a history of mistreatment or ignoring its veterans.

Everyone knows who Tim Murphy of the Revolutionary War is right?  He's the fellow Daniel Morgan ordered up a tree to shoot British General Simon Fraser at Freeman's Farm (Second Saratoga).  On the third shot, Murphy hit Fraser at 300 yards.  Anyway, Murphy's wife applied for a pension and was denied it.  There were no living witnesses and no acceptable documentation.  How could they as they were frontier folk and literacy wasn't high in those days?  From what I read in the pension papers the committee that examined her case said that they had no doubt whether she was married to a Tim Murphy, but whether it was the Tim Murphy of the American Revolution was at issue.

I also did some research for a Marine whose Civil War relation by marriage had served in three different companies in one regiment. They didn't know why.  It turns out that everytime the soldier returned from the hospital, his company had been detached so he was assigned to a different company.  Anyway, his sad story was he suffered eye problems after the war. He applied three times for a pension but was denied.  Finally an agent was sent out to investigate it.  All his papers were in order.  His comrades attested to his vision being good prior to being sent to post-war occupation duty in Texas.  The regimental surgeon and some officers also supported his story.  Why the three denials?  Well, it turns out there was a fellow who hated him and didn't want to see him receive a pension.  He told the pension people that the applicant had vision troubles because of syphilis!  It was an outright lie and the claim agent got him that pension.  The tragedy is that the poor veteran had to wait for years to get anything because of that one liar.
Link Posted: 1/18/2013 7:29:29 PM EDT
Originally Posted By lew:
Originally Posted By ek207108:
Like the guy above said, I think the OIF/OEF generation are constantly faced by the "did you kill anyone?" "what's Afghanistan/Iraq like?" questions, which reflects the "I want experience RIGHT NOW but without earning it instinct that is currently common among our generation... But, I would assume that those questions were the least of anyone's worries during the Vietnam War and before...


I don't think returning veterans from wars prior would have faced questions much different from those. What are you trying to get at?


I've always been under the impression (probably false) that people weren't rude enough to ask insensitive questions as soon as troops returned home. You're probably right though, like the other guy said, I'm sure Sir Englishknight1099 wanted to punch every ****er asking him how many of Saladin's dog's he killed. By "least of anyone's worries" I meant there wasn't a crowd of hippies waiting to spit on me when I got off the bus, and the general care/opinion of veterans seems to be much better in this country now than then.
Link Posted: 1/19/2013 9:02:31 AM EDT
I'm not sure whats worse getting asked the killing question or having people go out of their way to avoid the conversation.  After my OIF tour I was back home on leave when a one of my Moms friends came by to see me.  I've known this woman since I was a boy and regard her as family.  She asked what it was like and my Mom tried steering the conversation away from the topic to the point of rudeness like she didn't want to hear what I was going to say.  My Moms friend lost her first husband in Vietnam doing the same job I did and I figured she had a right to know.  I went ahead and told her what it was all about and what I saw.  That conversation was about the only straight up talk I've had with someone who wasn't there.
Link Posted: 3/5/2013 1:10:50 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 4v50:
The US has a history of mistreatment or ignoring its veterans.

Everyone knows who Tim Murphy of the Revolutionary War is right?  He's the fellow Daniel Morgan ordered up a tree to shoot British General Simon Fraser at Freeman's Farm (Second Saratoga).  On the third shot, Murphy hit Fraser at 300 yards.  Anyway, Murphy's wife applied for a pension and was denied it.  There were no living witnesses and no acceptable documentation.  How could they as they were frontier folk and literacy wasn't high in those days?  From what I read in the pension papers the committee that examined her case said that they had no doubt whether she was married to a Tim Murphy, but whether it was the Tim Murphy of the American Revolution was at issue.

I also did some research for a Marine whose Civil War relation by marriage had served in three different companies in one regiment. They didn't know why.  It turns out that everytime the soldier returned from the hospital, his company had been detached so he was assigned to a different company.  Anyway, his sad story was he suffered eye problems after the war. He applied three times for a pension but was denied.  Finally an agent was sent out to investigate it.  All his papers were in order.  His comrades attested to his vision being good prior to being sent to post-war occupation duty in Texas.  The regimental surgeon and some officers also supported his story.  Why the three denials?  Well, it turns out there was a fellow who hated him and didn't want to see him receive a pension.  He told the pension people that the applicant had vision troubles because of syphilis!  It was an outright lie and the claim agent got him that pension.  The tragedy is that the poor veteran had to wait for years to get anything because of that one liar.


I have been doing some genealogy research lately and found that one of my relatives was denied a Revolutionary War pension.  On the application he left the regiment number blank but he said that he served under XXXXXX Captain in Colonel XXXXXXX's regiment of the North Carolina Line, it turns out that that captain's men, under that colonel were shuffled between several regiments as they were reconsolidated due to losses.  His name was George BLALACK and claimed to be a Sergeant (only 4 per company IIRC) anyways there is record of a Geo. BLACK as one of the 4 Sergeants in that captain's company in the colonel's regiment of the NC Line infantry.  I'm not sure if that has more to do with spite or government stupidity.

Oddly enough, the relative that claimed service in the "Virginia and Maryland Cavalry" named a colonel that doesn't check out with what I've been able to research so far, and the only record that I have been able to find so far of his "service" was in a Loyalist South Carolina unit about a month after he claimed to have been at the battle of Eutaw Springs, SC (fighting under the Colonel who was no longer the colonel of the regiment he claims to have been in)...he also claimed to have been wounded at that battle.  Who knows, maybe he was just captured and impressed into the loyalist unit or something 2 witnesses backed his story, but I find it odd that he is given a pension and the guy who there is little doubt, legitimately served gets shafted.

My worst experience, a few months after I got out of the army/back from Afghanistan was hanging out with a bunch of AF lieutenants and listening to them discuss a book about war and talk about how soldiers and marines wear diapers into combat because its so scary they almost all shit their pants.  Mother fucker, there isn't time in combat to shit your pants*

*there was however an unfortunately viscus situation that required amputating the built-in underwear of my PT shorts.
Link Posted: 4/21/2013 7:09:47 AM EDT
You'd probably enjoy the 1946 movie "The Best Years of Our Lives" by William Wyler.

My grandfather was 82d airborne in WW2, while his brother was an Army combat engineer. Neither ever spoke of anything.

Link Posted: 4/26/2013 9:55:36 AM EDT
Originally Posted By SigfanUSAF:
You'd probably enjoy the 1946 movie "The Best Years of Our Lives" by William Wyler.

My grandfather was 82d airborne in WW2, while his brother was an Army combat engineer. Neither ever spoke of anything.




I absolutely love that movie, it drives home the point of what many of go through.  I think many vets just want some peace and time to adjust, not the bothersome behaviors of those who stayed behind.  Don't treat us like timebombs or curiousities, just treat us with respect and just remember us a few times a year for our serivce and sacrifces we have made.  
Link Posted: 5/6/2013 9:02:41 PM EDT
God and the soldier we adore,
In times of trouble,
Not before.
When all is done,
And wrong is righted,
God is forgotten,
And the soldier, slighted.
-Kipling
Link Posted: 8/19/2013 2:42:09 PM EDT
When I got back from VN in 1969 I applied for a job and needed a work schedule compatible to my University classes and the first job I applied for the guy asked if I was a Marine VN vet and when I said yes, he said, you're hired!  Many people who aren't vets are curious and I was always patient and told them the truth, many times shocking them with the answer.  "What was it like?" Hot!  "Did you ever shoot and kill someone?"  No, I'd shoot them in the belly and watch the kick themselves to death!  That would get them laughing and I'd tell them alot of the guys don't like that question so don't ask that one.

When my son in law came back from Afghanistan, we mostly talked climate, tactics, showers, chow, and what scared him the most.  Being a good Marine officer he said the thought of getting one of his Marines killed was his greatest fear.  That was the answer of a real leader I thought.
Link Posted: 8/19/2013 6:17:57 PM EDT
I haven't really studied the subject, but it seems as though returning veterans from any war in America's history, generally, haven't really been treated as more or less special than anyone else.  That is of course not counting the current war.
Link Posted: 9/27/2013 2:23:35 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By lew:
My cousin did a thesis on the treatment of Civil War veterans. I'll have to ask about the particulars, but CW veterans did not have it easy.
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General Sherman had penniless Union vets knock on his door for money, frequently as  I understand.

One guy in my hometown caught malaria in the Pacific as Marine rifleman. It effected his health badly for many years. He lost strength and was chronically tired. His family (and some townfolk) told him to quit faking and get off his lazy ass. About 10 years ago he wrote a book detailing his experiences in the war and went in-depth on the malaria issue. I'm sure there were a few people who were embarrassed by their treatment of him.
Link Posted: 9/27/2013 3:28:16 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By ek207108:


I've always been under the impression (probably false) that people weren't rude enough to ask insensitive questions as soon as troops returned home. You're probably right though, like the other guy said, I'm sure Sir Englishknight1099 wanted to punch every ****er asking him how many of Saladin's dog's he killed. By "least of anyone's worries" I meant there wasn't a crowd of hippies waiting to spit on me when I got off the bus, and the general care/opinion of veterans seems to be much better in this country now than then.
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By ek207108:
Originally Posted By lew:
Originally Posted By ek207108:
Like the guy above said, I think the OIF/OEF generation are constantly faced by the "did you kill anyone?" "what's Afghanistan/Iraq like?" questions, which reflects the "I want experience RIGHT NOW but without earning it instinct that is currently common among our generation... But, I would assume that those questions were the least of anyone's worries during the Vietnam War and before...


I don't think returning veterans from wars prior would have faced questions much different from those. What are you trying to get at?


I've always been under the impression (probably false) that people weren't rude enough to ask insensitive questions as soon as troops returned home. You're probably right though, like the other guy said, I'm sure Sir Englishknight1099 wanted to punch every ****er asking him how many of Saladin's dog's he killed. By "least of anyone's worries" I meant there wasn't a crowd of hippies waiting to spit on me when I got off the bus, and the general care/opinion of veterans seems to be much better in this country now than then.


If one thinks that people of days past were any less rude, they need to get a grip. People don't change, but the way they display their prejudice, ignorance, etc... does. We're lucky that, today, people are so up front about being ignorant, uneducated, etc... The majority of people have always been pretty shitty, and today is no different. I have to laugh whenever someone talks of the "good old days". There were none.

That said, i think that, the more recent the conflict, the more willing a lot of veterans are to talk about it. I've lost count of how many Vietnam, Desert Storm, OIF/OEF veterans I've been able to talk to about their experiences. Approach them with respect and afford them some courtesy. I think they deserve at least that much.
Link Posted: 10/24/2013 5:22:45 PM EDT
New York state opened a home for Civil War veterans in Bath, NY.  It was a godsend for those who could not adapt back to civilian life or who were disabled.  The men lived in barracks.  The able bodied helped the infirm.  They also maintained vegetable gardens and livestock to supply most of their own food.  The men lived in a system similar to what they had know in the military.  After hours they were free to go to town but had to behave themselves.   It seemed to help a lot of men and many did finally make the transition back to civilian life.  Many stayed and are buried there.  The men wore uniforms and marched in all the parades.  

Today it is still in operation as part of the VA system.  It my be the oldest facility in the VA.

Link Posted: 10/31/2013 4:21:37 PM EDT
The China Marines had a hard homecoming.

I can't believe no one has posted "Tommy" yet.
Link Posted: 12/15/2013 7:28:44 AM EDT
Read this (Shook Over Hell http://www.amazon.com/Shook-over-Hell-Post-Traumatic-Vietnam/dp/0674806522) in college and it does a pretty complete job of fleshing out the PTSD issue in a historical context. It also makes a pretty convincing argument for the the post-trauma decompression timeline for re-introducing combat vets into the general population. The most striking point I took from the book was the way that Vietnam vets were taken out of combat/forward positions and shoved into a plane, then two days later they are sitting in the kitchen at mom and dad's house. The book identifies this as a major mishandling of potentially damaged guys.
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