Vietnam Veterans Still Feel Effect of War 50 Years Later
Local Veteran Mike Spotswood Dedicated to Serving Those Who Suffer
Last updated 3/29/2023 at 11:13am
March 31, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the final withdrawal of US military forces from Vietnam, ending more than a decade of fighting in support of the government of South Vietnam.
At its peak in the late 1960's more than 500,000 Americans were serving in-country, and a million others were working in support of the massive effort. Some 282,000 US and allied forces were killed in the fighting, many soldiers of the Army of Vietnam. An estimate by the Department of Defense after the war estimated that there were 1.2 million civilian casualties, including 195,000 deaths.
The effects of the fighting have affected not only Vietnam, but the United States as well.
Because of the unpopularity of the war, returning veterans had a much different homecoming than the veterans of other generations and conflicts. Some incorrectly blamed those who served for the war, and heaped abuse and insults upon them.
It has been estimated that over 275 thousand veterans from the war have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Personal stories abound.
Mike Spotswood is a Lake Wales US Marine veteran who was a member of Marine Air Delivery, which had more combat jumps into a war zone than anyone in US history. Their job, which often involved jumping into the middle of fire-fights to reinforce and supply isolated troops, was among the most dangerous of the war.
Spotswood has made it his current mission to reach out to other veterans throughhttps://www.lakewalesnews.net/story/2022/02/23/ridge-life/a-national-audience-of-veterans-listens-to-lake-wales-radio-show/3008.html" target="new"> his weekly radio show, "Cup of Joe Radio," which is recorded in his Lake Wales studio, broadcast from a station in Rochester, New York, and live-streamed to veterans across the nation on Wreaths Across America Radio network, iHeart Radio, tunein.com and many other streaming platforms.
"The healing power of music has been verified through numerous medical studies to tremendously help veterans and others coping with PTSD. That message is needed by many veterans who feel that their service was ignored," he said.
"A Vietnam veteran told me that today was the first time he wore a Vietnam ball cap since returning from Vietnam," Spotswood told LakeWalesNews.net recently. "He told me when he returned from Vietnam he went to the airport in Los Angeles and was refused service in the airport bar because he was in uniform. When he boarded his plane to go home, the stewardess told him they ran out of food. The lady sitting behind him handed him her food tray knowing he was being discriminated against."
"So many of my fellow veterans have fought the battles within their minds, and in the end lost the war," Spotswood said. "Too many of my fellow veterans have lost their families, their friends, their jobs and worst of all their dignity."
The veteran who was refused service "had tears in his eyes, and I did too, when I said to him 'welcome home,'" Spotswood said. "He told me I was the first person to say 'welcome home' to him since he returned from Vietnam."
Speaking of the many homeless veterans, a particularly painful effect of the war, Spotswood commented that "there are lost souls forever on patrol on the streets, and in cities all across the United States, who will never find a safe place."
Cup of Joe Radio is currently participating in a monthly news conference presented by the Secretary of the Veterans Administration, the Honorable Denis Richard McDonough.
"This is quite an honor," Spotswood said, "as we are included along with the major news networks. Our VSO Veterans Service Officer is a major part of our broadcast team, and weekly discusses changes in veterans legislation and benefits such as the Pact Act.
Spotswood described the Pact Act as "the most important legislation for veterans in decades."
Cup of Joe Radio has seen tremendous growth over these last three years, "especially during the pandemic where isolated veterans became more isolated," Spotswood said. "All the Gulf War veterans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others are also afflicted with PTSD, and have a tough road ahead."
"It appears now that our Country is finally coming around, after fifty years, to realizing that these young men sacrificed for their love of country. PTSD is so insidious and debilitating," Spotswood said.
"I have a request for everyone reading this story," Spotswood said. "When you are out and about and you see veterans, especially older Vietnam veterans wearing their Vietnam hats, say 'welcome home,' a greeting they so richly deserve."