After Vietnam, The Healing
Video & Script with comments from Nam Vets & supporters
Video & Script with comments from Nam Vets & supporters
Deeply stirring memories & commentary from those who have been there or those who offer support
“This Video was Made and Narrated by a very Special Friend, Ann M. Wolf She is a hero in all Veterans eyes and heart. please watch and make your comments. God Bless you Ann.”
“You did great in showing the story of Vietnam and the time since thru the interviews; you also did great with the video production. We all appreciate what you did and do. Us Vietnam Vets are so appreciative of you. We salute you.You’re awesome Ann!!!!!”
“God Bless you Ann…I put this on all three of my pages….I know this is going to help our Vietnam Heroes…..EVERY American should see this”
“God Bless you Ann. Thank you for “The Healing”. As a widow of a Vietnam veteran I can relate to the words said. Welcome home to all Vietnam veterans.”
“Ann, The bullets have stopped flying, but the war goes on for damaged survivors. Thank you for standing with us, among us and for us in our longest battle.
“Ann, you truly have a God given gift. Your voice and gift of presentation are amazing! I do believe you are one of God’s Angels here on earth.”
“It’s an amazing video and speech. Your elaboration and highlights for the Vietnam Era are exceptional. Thank you so much Ann Wolf for this wonderful work and I wish all Vietnam veterans Watching and listening to this video. I would like to stand with you to recognize and honor their service and sacrifice. They were there for me and my people. May God bless our veterans! Du Hua, Pharm.D, Navy vet, DAV”
“It happened. It was our life experience. Very significant but not as devastating as the loss of our Brothers and Sisters. We made it home, they did not. God rest their souls. We will never forget them. We will also never forget the Veterans who suffer everday from PTSD. We lose an average 22 per day to suicide. We are not doing enough as a country to save these lives. God Bless you and thank you Ann M. Wolf.”
By Chaplain Ann M. Wolf
Introduction by commentator & narrator Ann M. Wolf…
VIETNAM . . .
It is interesting how a word can invoke so many feelings ….. memories….images….emotions…and so different for each soul…
Back in the mid-60s, I wrote my first songs, wanting desperately to make a difference with my music; and so… I was also a seeker you could say, and a deep thinker; but being a seeker in the 60s was intense. There was a lot to contemplate for those of us who dared to question the establishment, such as the Civil Rights movement spearheaded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and then there was the “enlightenment movement” influenced by visiting Mahatmas and Maharishis who were introducing their version of spiritual awakening. We watched the sexual revolution ravel and un-ravel, while we followed the Look Magazine reports, all the way to colorful and dreamy homesteads of “back to the landers” who, hand in hand, shared community bliss in their organic utopias.
And then there was the Vietnam War…right in the middle of it all. Music raged around me, from Bob Dylan’s provocative and poetic portrayals of the cultural crisis “du jour,” to the hair-raising electricity of Hendrix; and meanwhile Janis Joplin poured her guts out with every song she sang.
History was playing it all out in music; and Nam was central to many of the stories being told, from those who had been there as well as on the part of others who vented about the so-called “war machine” with a procession of platitudes, unique to the Vietnam War debate.
I also remember the daily news from Nam…and all the still shots and casualty reports that left my mind numb. At times I tried to imagine what life was like for the soldiers. I had lived in foreign nations as a child; and I had seen extreme poverty. I had known the feeling of intense heat & humidity beating down on my skin, a razor sharp scourge to the flesh that only jungles can produce. But I had never known war.
And as for Liberty and its cost?…Honestly…no matter how much of a deep thinker I might have thought myself to be at that time….what could I have really known about the price of freedom being paid by our military in Southeast Asia?
As for those who were serving over there…well…they likely didn’t know either, starting out… until the Huey dropped them off, in a field somewhere. “Welcome to Hell” was the theme upon their arrival to the “zone”… where behind any bush, hut, or slope, even within the skirts of women holding their young…the enemy could lurch forward, indulging in their favorite forms of destruction and always with the surprise element, which guerilla warfare never fails to bring.
Yes… these recruits learned far too much about the price of Freedom and too fast, as their innocence was replaced by battle-driven grit and as they slipped deep into sheer survival mode. They adapted with lightning speed… to the unimaginable, as they watched out for each other, having arrived as strangers but soon becoming brothers…. and sisters.
But as if the horror of war was not enough, this was by enlarge, a conflict not understood or supported by the citizens of the USA; and while legislators back home condescended to “administer policy”…our Veterans endured agonizing frustrations, being throttled in their efforts as they faced the perils which always result from unchecked bureaucracy.
Meanwhile, as I continued my soul-searching… safe on the homeland, I soon realized that this group of Americans were caught in the middle of an agonizing storm of controversy…a group who were not afforded the luxury of “contemplation” as they crept through sweltering swamps and jungles…every sense extended with hypervigilance brought on by the unique warfare occurring in Southeast Asia.
Surviving their tour of duty physically, involved one set of acquired skills, as they passed through the eternity of moments each day. But as they watched their numbers diminishing, they faced even more ever-lasting nightmares, dealing daily with unimaginable losses as they watched their buddies fall beside them, one by one… or as they were called upon to “do the unimaginable”….and not what their mama taught them to do.
But worst of all, most were left with the searing and relentless guilt of finding themselves to be… a survivor; and guilt is a nemesis of any soul…
But this would be just the beginning of their purgatory, because when the day finally came that the Huey, boat, or plane took them from the battlefield, either whole or in pieces…. they were to face the next chapter of their lives in numb disbelief …..
Arriving back home, they had to survive new rounds of fiery darts from the jeers, the insults, the ugly, and unfounded accusations. They were spit upon…cursed; and reports circulated at times, describing bodily waste being tossed at veterans arriving home at airports … all this being a far cry from the flag-lined terminals we see today, when our Veterans return from war.
This excursion, through yet another classroom of hell, led to one of the worst kinds of loneliness of all….being rejected by the very people and the very nation that they had served with their lives… surviving physical, mental, and emotionless states that could never be understood or even explained with words …unless they might encounter another veteran who had also been there. But who would be able or willing to speak about the unspeakable? Because, for many years, few talked out-loud about “Nam,” and with no “welcome home,” many simply hid their uniforms, threw on civilian clothes as quickly as they could, tried to blend into the crowds as they made their way through to “somewhere”….but where?…. Between the outer calamity of rejection and inner unspoken grieving and rage, between the fog of war still lingering in their brains and the cultural war zone at home, many became “standing wanderers,” seeming to be present, while on the inside, they were “anywhere but here”….
And after years of damming up the unshed tears; and after waiting more years, even decades, for help from government agencies, which they hoped might address their wounds…at least some of the ones on the outside… a question burned in their souls….
How can you come home when you don’t know where your home has gone?
Ann reads the Dedication…
This presentation is dedicated to our Vietnam Veterans and to their families in honor, in remembrance, and with fervent prayers for their healing and peace.
The following quotes are from some of our Vietnam Veterans, family members, or friends of Veterans, who will share their feelings, their perspective, their disappointments and their hopes. Some have made a statement, some have offered a part of a song or poem they have written; and a few of our guest presenters will share why they work so hard today to make sure that all of our Veterans receive the full support they need upon their return from battle.
So though we face much work ahead to ensure the needs of our Veterans, the good news is, that there’s a growing number of people who are awakening to this cause and who are coming forward in support of our military and their families. They are lining the streets and airport terminals to pay their respects, at parades and memorials. They are volunteering in so many creative ways through their community events, organizations, and even by approaching their legislators to insist upon decent treatment of our veterans.
Today, and every day, I join Americans from all over our nation saying “Welcome Home & Thank You for your service” from the bottom of our hearts….
As the Broadcast continues, Ann M. Wolf reads the words offered by her guest presenters which you can read below in the order that they appear in the video. Since broadcast time was limited in the video, additional comments, history, and images may be included for some of the presenters. Following their statements, Ann leaves closing remarks.
Comments from Vietnam Vets, family members, and supporters
We begin with the words of Vietnam Veteran, Rob Owensby…
“It was an honor and a privilege to serve my country. Regarding Vietnam, I would not take anything for the experience; but I pray that no one would have to go through that. I am proud of my combat brothers and all the support soldiers who helped me make it through the war. My personal opinion is that the war would have been a short war if the politicians would have let the military handle it.”
“Our motto for first force recon, strike team 5 was… “If we don’t come back together, we don’t come back.” We had a special bond that went beyond the Corps; we became brothers for life. When your life depends on the 4 other men on your team, you need to have a degree of trust that most people would never understand. I don’t know how it was for other units but for us, that was just how it was….I GOT YOUR SIX…was more than just a saying.”
1st Tour in Vietnam, 1st Recon Sniper & 2nd Tour, Door-Gunner
Dr. Phil Ayers from his poem, “When the Church Bells Rang,” shares…
“Hundreds died fighting hand-to-hand
Their names eternal in our mind,
We took their hell to win their land,
In that hellish day, mottos stand – “No one left behind.”
While across the battlefield, the church bells rang so clear,
Marines brave, everyone, to you we hold so dear!
Mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters still cry and ask why,
That so many years ago our Marines had to die;
At home, the church bells ring on high.”
Excerpt above from…“When the Church Bells Rang” . . . By Dr. Phil Ayers © 2015
Read the full version of his poem: Click here
Leo Gawroniak, historian, teacher, commentator, and supporter of our veterans states:
“The Vietnam War was completely different from World War II and the Korean War. In Vietnam, there was no front line for combat. The battlefield was actually anywhere and everywhere, all at the same time; and many enemy combatants did not wear uniforms, including some women and children who in being used by the enemy, were armed and dangerous, so our soldiers could never be certain who they were dealing with when encountering what appeared to be civilians. The evening news broadcasts in the USA rarely pointed out the guerilla style of fighting by the enemy. Therefore, many of the American people did not understand the way the war was being fought. This was the first guerilla war that American soldiers had ever encountered. When the soldiers returned home, they were not well-received, partly because the American public did not understand what these soldiers were up against on the battlefields. The reason why, the nature of the realities of the Vietnam War were not fully or accurately portrayed by most news media in the United States, is still a mystery.“
Leo Gawroniak: On Agent Orange (Not included in the video, but notable)
“In 1980 I encountered a Veteran who showed me what Agent Orange had done to a patch of his skin, revealing a sore on his arm. Doctors had told him that this wound would likely never heal. I got to thinking, that it is one thing to hear about injuries received on the battlefield, but it is another to actually see the effects and then imagine how many thousands were suffering the same way, living with this prognosis. Agent Orange may have at one time, been deemed necessary to eliminate jungle foliage in order to conduct military missions, but it is likely that few contemplated the long term price that would be paid for the decision to use this chemical.”
Vietnam Veteran John L. Smith shares…
“Our country was in turmoil; and my generation was questioning the federal government, asking…..Why? …….When we returned home, we were not welcomed by friends and sometimes even our families. I did not tell anyone that I had been in the military for 40 years. At that time, less than 5% of Americans had been in service with the military, and so that left 95% of the American public unable to really understand what we were doing in Vietnam, which contributed to why we were treated the way we were when we came back to the United States. “
Veteran Deb McKay explains how her father’s experience influenced her…
Serving alongside Deb is her spouse, Sgt. John J. Baker, United States Army, Louisville, KY; seen in second image. Both John & Deb serve their community with the Patriot Guard Riders as well as “Wreaths Across America.” John is also a drummer in a Christian Rock Band.
Veteran Edwin C. Carroll states…
“My dad and I served. Heli’s (helicopters) picked us up and dropped us deep inland; and it was part of a of hell that I do not know how to describe or say. I am speechless, much of which, I just auto block it and try to recover. But today on the 50th anniversary of the Marines landing in Vietnam, all the News Media can talk about is a bridge in Alabama and voters rights somewhere… this is crap and makes my dad and me cry bad.. our hearts are broken.”
E3 Specialist Area 51, Edwin C. Carroll – 1972 US ARMY.
Veteran William Saul, A.K.A. “Turtle” shares…
“The only thing I could ever want the USA to know is … it’s much too late; we hide in the shadows, wondering if it’s over and when will we ever come home? Will there be a time when I don’t feel like an outcast or be ashamed of the government, but love our real America. I’m on the alert 24/7 looking …and always ready to act in a second. I live in constant fear of knowing that someone might say, Hey! You’re a Vietnam Veteran…. aren’t you?”
Veteran Michael Stewart asks…
“I have a question now. Why is it that those who protested the Vietnam War, are grown and their children are in harm’s way; and their voices are silent?”
“The men and women who served in Vietnam were fighting a war so few understood, a war which was protested, while some men were accused of war crimes and called names, a war we could have won, but our elected officials refused to allow. Those who served, fought, bled, and died and became brothers. They fought to protect each other from a determined enemy. I have a question now…Why is it that those who protested the Vietnam War, are now grown and their children are in harm’s way, and their voices are silent?”
Veteran Dennis Overly shares about Agent Orange…
Veteran Steve Isaacson shares…
“I do not want to talk about Vietnam, for it’s still painful. But I will talk about “after Vietnam.” Over the past many years, I started helping veterans with the same or worse issues. I help them from all over the United States. I do this without pay or any type of compensation; this is how I deal with the memories. It fills my heart every time, to help a veteran or a veteran’s family get what they were promised. I will continue the fight until my last breath. “I leave no one behind.”
Veteran Jim Quick states…
“I would love for people to understand that Vietnam Vets were proud of our Country then as we are now; and we went to ensure that communism never came ashore in the USA. We never hesitated and we did our job we were sent to do. R.I.P. to the more than 58,000 Vietnam Vets that gave their all. You will never be forgotten as well as the POW’S and our MIA’S still unaccounted for, that endured inhumane treatment. I work hard now, so that our Veterans today will not experience the let-down which we felt upon our return home. So God Bless and protect our Veterans; and God Bless America.”
Many of our Veterans and family members of Veterans have experienced healing when visiting some of our Vietnam War Memorials; among those is a sacred place in Washington DC known as “The Wall,” where the names of the missing or fallen are chiseled in granite. Veteran Spencer D. Nave shares from one of his songs about “The Wall”…
“Now there at the wall, black granite it stands,
Are the names of the ones who didn’t come back.
Be reverent, respectful when you walk by,
For the cause of freedom, these young people died.
Chiseled in granite are the names of them all,
The sons and the daughters are there on the wall.
For the cause of freedom, they died honestly.”
© Spencer D. Nave, Jr. January 10, 1993
Veteran Joe Doyle tells his story of going to the Wall and the healing that resulted…
“I would like to share a thought that truly helped me go to The Wall for the first time ever in 2012. I had never gone for I feared the ghosts that I would find there. But words of wisdom came from my wife, and it’s a message for all of us vets with survivor’s guilt and that deeper guilt we never speak of. She told me that the dead have no ill will towards the living; and I knew it to be true, for I was the one who had been carrying all those feelings. The dead had gone beyond the cares of this life; they were really in a better place. I went, I cried, I healed some more; and after, there seemed to be fewer ghosts & my prayer is for all to work out the ghosts.”
Listen to the full version of Joe’s commentary in the video, “Our Time, Our Turn” about PTSD – Read more
Vietnam Veteran Bill Robinson, longest held enlisted POW in American history shares very simply…
“Without our veterans, there would be no United States of America.”
East Tennessee Patriot, Sue Dauber shares…
“I watched many friends and loved ones go to war in Vietnam while I was in high school and I lost friends; so these Veterans are dear to my heart. Tennessee was the 1st state to declare March 29th as the official Vietnam Veterans Day in 2008; and it is now nationwide. In 2014 I was burdened that these Veterans had not been recognized properly in Knoxville and the surrounding areas, so it became my passion and mission to make it happen. On March 29th, 2014 Rolling Thunder ®, Inc., TN, Chapter 3 hosted the 1st Vietnam Veterans Day Welcome Home Ceremony to a standing-room only group. It was finally a day where many felt they were truly honored and “Welcomed Home.”
Albert Joseph Poe, award winning author & poet & strong supporter of our military and veterans, shares this from his poem (for our Vietnam Veterans), “Heroes Inside”…
“Many years silent, as the years have now passed,
dark memories imbedded, they always do last
But they’re truly respected for what they’ve done,
their honor, courage, and the battles they’ve won.
Now things have changed as they walk with great pride,
we thank God for these Warriors and the Heroes inside.”
© 2015 – Albert Joseph Poe
Vietnam Veteran, Jimmy Avera, A.K.A. “Big Dawg” shares about what “Vietnam Veterans Day” means to him…
“As a Vietnam Veteran, this day is one of remembrance where we can reflect upon our lives and personal experiences relative to the Vietnam War and our service tour over there. We remember the less (than) popular, undeserved treatment we received, absorbed and endured when we returned to our homeland. We also remember the devastating effects that the war had on our lives after that, both mentally and physically. Hopefully, our day will be a gathering of Comrades, Brothers and Sisters-in-Arms, where we can share greetings, smiles, tears, and memories. Most importantly, this is a day to pause, remember and pay respect to all of our fellow servicemen and women… who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives during the Vietnam War. Also we must re-emphasize our POW/MIA urgency, knowing and broadcasting to our nation’s citizens that we must diligently continue to pursue bringing our troops home. Currently there are over 1643 unaccounted for MIA’s from the Vietnam War. We must never forget nor leave anyone behind. If we forget just one American Soldier, then we as a country have failed. On this day I can proudly say “Welcome Home” to each and every Vietnam Veteran. They are, and always will be, my Comrades, Brothers and Sisters. “
Currently a lifetime member of Vietnam Veterans of America & Disabled American Veterans. Also a member of Rolling Thunder ®, Inc., TN Chapter 3, supporting the POW/MIA mission, “to educate the public about the need to never forget those who have not returned home as well as support all veterans from all branches of military service.”
Chaplain Ann M. Wolf
“In closing, I would like to suggest that if you ever encounter some of our Vietnam Veterans, take a moment and extend your hand to them, look in their eyes and let them know with your soul how much you appreciate their service and sacrifice. And if you have a moment more, and if the Veteran feels like sharing, considering receiving one of the greatest gifts of all….the opportunity to hear from a hero sharing history through his or her eyes; and to all who participated in this presentation, I join with the American people in saying to you that words cannot express our gratitude for your time and contributions; thank you! This is Chaplain Ann M. Wolf …. God be us as we move forward with Great Hope … together…”
Huey Sounds: Captured & sampled by Nolan Wright – For Nolan’s YouTube Channel – Click Here
Photographic Art: Images at this website and in the video are used by permission, by license, or have been obtained from what the artist believes are public domain sources; please advise of additional licenses are needed. Thank you to all photographers who have contributed to this video and for the work you do with regard to the preservation of history.
Featured Patch: This beautiful patch is being shared by Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Inc. To learn more about their programs, visit their website: WHVV
Special Thanks: Ann wishes to thank all of these special people whose remarks she narrated, for sharing their thoughts, their experiences, their challenges, and their hopes.
Contact Info for Presenters: Some presenters have left contact information; please see links which are included with their statements.
Presenters Photo Gallery
Note from Ann M. Wolf…
Thank you for visiting this page that honors our Vietnam Veterans & their families.
Feel free to share this content with anyone you believe could benefit, either in learning more about our Nam Vets or if you know some Vietnam Veterans, perhaps they might be able to identify with the story and remarks in the mini-doc.