California legislature declared March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in 2009, thanks to Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley). Today we honor the veterans of the Vietnam War.
Over 2.7 million served in Vietnam, nearly 10% of their generation. Out of those who served, approximately 58,200 were killed and 75,000 were severely disabled. The number of veterans who deal with post-traumatic stress (PTS) would raise that number significantly. Not all who endure PTS are disabled but the cost of their service should be recognized.
The third annual ceremony took place in Sacramento and was hosted by the California State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America. The ceremony laid a wreath at the memorial in Capitol Park and several speakers recalled their experiences and the plight of veterans even to this day. Cook said, “Nearly 6,000 Californians gave their lives for our nation during the Vietnam War. I fought to establish “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” to encourage all Californians to take part in remembering the service and sacrifices of Vietnam War Veterans and to honor those Veterans who are still alive. It took far too long for America to recognize and honor their sacrifices, but I hope this day will help ensure that their sacrifices are never again forgotten.”
Those sacrifices are not forgotten and the emotional wounds never fully heal. Cook was able to exemplify that: he told the story of how he came out of anesthesia from surgery and his wife told him that he was having a conversation with someone. That someone was a fellow soldier who had died many years back. His experience is still shaped by his time at war.
Not every soldier deals with the psychological impact with the success of Assemblyman Cook. Not every soldier had the same experience, but every one should have the support to heal. We are here to facilitate that healing for our Vietnam veterans and the next generation of troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.
For more about the 3rd annual ceremony, read Paul Cook’s Press Release.
March 29 was declared Vietnam Veterans Day by President Obama in 2008.