The War Is Not Over

Roland Kunkel

...Many people have tried to bury the Vietnam War for decades. But, I will be damned, if that sucker does not keep kicking the dirt out of the hole.

Why do I say this?

The American Newsmedia tried to bury the War while we were still there. The War Protesters, for the most part, wanted the American GI buried as the villain while we were still there. The Government had no real game-plan while we were there. The rules of engagement were unilateral and changed daily. We buried some 58,000 bros for what I do not yet know.

After we returned -- our country did not want to talk about the war; our VA did not want to talk about the war; our fathers, uncles and older brothers from the PRIOR wars did not want to associate with us (Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, etc); our friends did not want to talk with us; and finally WE DID NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE WAR either! We buried the Vietnam War!

But ALAS!!! The dirt started to be kicked from the hole.

US Foreign Policy was affected. We show inconsistency, we seemed to cower and often shied from firm action and commitment to our allies. The BUZZWORD -- to avoid another Vietnam was to meet every potential crisis. To this day, every military action or potential for action is compared with VIETNAM. The BURIED seems not to rest, but instead stirs and seems to be want to rise. Unfinished still yet?

The Veterans Administration is still not our friend. As the years passed by, several thousands of Vietnam War Veterans began to show common symptoms. PTSD was suggested as by-product from the war. We went to the VA seeking help. For the most part they turned us away. The WAR IS OVER, therefore GO AWAY. Why should we expect (mental) help when those with physical needs were hard pressed at times for VA HELP! I am still trying to resolve a claim started five years ago. Why wont we stay buried?

Upon returning home from the war, Veterans of Past Wars rejected us! We had lost the war, therefore - WE WERE NOT WELCOME. The Government that we had served brokered the agreement (we did not lose it militarily), but this did not seem to matter. We could not find any place to rest and seek soothing salve from the wounds that seem never to heal. If the war was over (buried), then why were the wounds still festering? Why, if we were just as brave and served just as noble as our fathers - were we now being rejected by them? The dead just will not stay buried!

Our friends, the ones that stayed behind and were able to live an uninterrupted life did not want to talk about the war. The War to them was the evening NEWS, the short newspaper article. They were only given glimpses of what we were actually living. To this day I am trying to figure out just how to paint Vietnam in a language that the NON-VET will understand. To them the war is over, it was a BAD THING. Let us forget (bury) it and go on with our lives (uninterrupted)!

Finally there was US! We returned home. It is not so much that we returned home to the changed political environment of the 60's and 70's, it was that we came home to SILENCE! It was not that there weren't any bands playing and cheering crowds welcoming us back. It was that of almost indifference. Nobody wanted to listen to us talk about the war (they seemed to try and ignore it - maybe it will just go away). THEREFORE....We did not talk about the war. I returned from Vietnam to stateside duty at 29 Palms, CA for the remaining 15 months of my 4 year enlistment. Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the people in my unit were veterans. I am very hard pressed to remember even the smallest of serious talk about our experiences. We were trying desperately to BURY the WAR...The war is over...and all is well?

JUST MY OPINION! The war is not over.

We are still finding a government that refuses to UNBURY Vietnam and learn the lessons of unfinished business (Desert Storm). The VA has thousands of open cases from VN, but now is ignoring our kids (Gulf War). The Veterans of the Past Wars are still in command. Our friends still do not understand what Vietnam was. And we still do not know how to tell others our stories.


We are at least talking about it NOW. The War (the pain, the aftermath) is still with us. We have not buried it, we only ignored it and let the wounds fester and poison us (PTSD).

THE WAR IS NOT OVER... I am not a writer, and you may not be either but your story needs to be told! Somewhere within our rhetoric there has to be some healing. Somewhere in our telling those what they did not want to hear 30 years ago, they just may start to understand. Somehow, our fathers may come to realize that we too served. Just maybe we can finally lay to rest the war that so affected our hearts and minds.

Copyright 1996 All rights reserved

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Added 12/19/96