In honor of Veterans Day, I sit down to talk to Private First-Class Timothy Johnson, a military cook and paratrooper who served in the Vietnam War. I recently returned from Normandy, where I visited the D-Day beaches and landing sight of paratroopers in WWII like, Major Dick Winters from Band of Brothers. The visit to the Normandy American cemetery left me awestruck. As I walked the grounds of the park, I truly felt proud to be an American. I have the deepest respect for those that selflessly serve this country in the military. It is a sacrifice, that I do not believe I am strong enough to make, and I am grateful for their service. I admittedly have not been as active in outreach for Veterans as I should be, and after speaking with Tim, realize this is another social issue that needs attention.
Many of the WWII veterans have now passed away, but were honored in history and welcomed home as heroes. Vietnam War veterans experienced mixed feelings at the end of the war since it was not supported by many American citizens at the time. The reception many of the soldiers coming home felt were negative, and they were treated as outcasts. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), drug abuse, homelessness, suicide, and racial tension were some of the effects they felt post war. Even 50 years later, many of these issues still plague them today. Tim shares his experience in the war and candidly talks about his challenges with drug addiction, homelessness, and PTSD. Although some of his stories made me sad, they were so engaging and intense that throughout the discussion I was speechless. I started to better understand the effects the war had on these veterans, and am grateful to Tim for opening my eyes and enlightening me.
I have learned so much through these conversations, and hope you have to. It has been fascinating to spend time talking to so many wonderful people, and I am grateful that I have an audience who has been appreciating these discussions.
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