The Front Page Online

Government’s Endless War Against Vietnam Veterans

From Robert L. Rosebrock

First of two parts

In 1975, the fall of Saigon brought an end to the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia while our U.S. government generously welcomed more than 50,000 Vietnamese refugees onto American soil in Southern California by sheltering, clothing and feeding them.

Homeless Vietnam War Veteran searching for food in West Los Angeles

To prepare for them, an estimated 900 Marines and civilians had worked six days, erecting more than 1,000 tents and Quonset huts at Camp Pendleton Marine Base that would provide the anxious refugees with safe care and a hopeful future.

Most all of the refugees arrived with no money or personal possessions. Few spoke any English.

Nonetheless, they were compassionately accepted and sponsored by volunteer families, churches and corporations, eventually assimilating into our society. The vast majority became productive U.S. citizens.

In addition to this gesture of goodwill, our government also provides shelter, beds, meals, TV, recreation and healthcare for hardened criminals in our local, state and federal prisons, and it offers the same safe and comfortable living conditions for violent thug terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

On the other hand, disabled and homeless Veterans who selflessly defended our nation have been forgotten and dispossessed by the same government and forced to live alone, homeless and hungry in back-alley squalor.

By the VA’s own admission, 47 percent of today’s homeless Veterans are from the Vietnam War era.

Most of them are now in their 60s and 70s. Many are frail and in declining health. Incredulously, while the Vietnamese refugees were welcomed into our country, America’s Veterans who had fought to defend them in their native homeland were insulted, demeaned and ostracized when they returned home to their own native country.

The fact that Vietnamese refugees were given immediate attention and support decades ago while tens of thousands of our Vietnam War Veterans are still homeless and destitute is a national disgrace beyond comprehension.

As a supposedly moral and compassionate society, how can we allow the exclusively deeded property at the Los Angeles National Veterans Home to be leased for a public dog park, public community park, public golf course, public parking lots, used car storage, private school grounds, carnivals, entertainment, while 20,000 disabled and disadvantaged Veterans are homeless and fending for their lives on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles?

The answer is simple. We can’t!

Last May 28, during the Memorial Day ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., President Obama proclaimed:

“One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam – most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there. You were often blamed for a war you didn't start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that's why here today we resolve that it will not happen again.

After years of battling the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) over the misuse of Veterans land and the abuse of disabled and homeless Veterans in Los Angeles, fellow Veterans believed that President Obama’s appointment of Gen. Eric K. Shinseki (a disabled Vietnam War Veteran) as Secretary of the VA would bring about a new change of working for Veterans instead of working against them.

Unfortunately, some things never change.

God Bless America and the Veterans Revolution!

(To be continued)

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