tv Vietnam Post- War Trauma CSPAN May 30, 2016 8:57pm-9:48pm EDT
vietnam veteran recognition ceremony. and i have been hung up on that word, recognition. because to recognize someone, you have to know them first. and 50 years after the vietnam war, we still have work to do in that regard. a consequence of a volunteer army is a military/civilian divide that remains one of the more significant and material in our society. this panel that we're about to hear from will attempt to bring us closer, to know what it is that these veterans have faced. the title of this panel is the afterwar. it is an exploration of the
physical and psycho logical trauma that our veterans faced after the war and continue to face today. in the bitter and sometimes hostile reception that they received from their fellow americans. and to guide us in this exploration are three experts. your panelists. the first is dr. grace liam galloway. dr. galloway has spent over 40 years dedicated to the care and welfare of the underprivileged, veterans, the homeless, and children with food insecurities. from 1967 to 1970, dr. galloway was a medic at the third field hospital in cue chi and vong to you mass units in the republic of vietnam. today, she is a nurse practitioner at the community free clinic in concord, new hampshire -- north carolina.
mr. jan scruggs is a decorated veteran of the vietnam war where he served as a corporal in the 199th light infantry brigade of the u.s. army. and he went on to become the founder and president of the vietnam veterans memorial fund, the catalyst for the memorial known as the wall on the mall on washington, d.c., it serves as a tripp tribute to all who served in one of the longest wars in american history and is among one of the most visited memorials in the whole of the nation's capitol. a half scale replica of that wall is on display just currently outside the lbj library. and i understand it is beautiful at night when it is lit. the moderator for the panel is joe klein. joe klein is time magazine's political columnist and award winning journalist and the
author of seven books, including "payback", five marines after vietnam. his weekly "time" column," in the arena" covers national and international affairs. and he has won two national headliner awards for best magazine column. he is also a member of the council on foreign relations. please help me welcome your panel, dr. galloway, mr. scruggs, and your moderator, joe klein. welcome to austin. [ applause ] well, good afternoon, everybody. this is the second time that i've been privileged and honored to sit on this stage. and both times, the topic was
veterans. the last time, it was veterans -- i was accompanied by three spectacular, young veterans of the iraq and afghanistan wars. and my most recent book is called "charlie mike" which means continue the mission in military radio jargon, was about the veterans of those wars. and to me, it's very interesting to spend time with them as i have over the last four years. i embedded in iraq and afghanistan with them. and also to spend time with veterans of my era, of the vietnam war. they have had -- it's hard to say this, since the wars were equally silly. they have had an easier time than you guys had. they were all volunteers.
many of them volunteered on september 12th, 2001. they went over as units, and came back as units. vietnam veterans went offer alone and came back alone. because of the experience of vietnam veterans, the doctors and the -- and many of the clinics at the v.a. and elsewhere knew what post-traumatic stress disorder -- actually i've kind of dropped the "disorder" part of it because it's not disorderly to respond to the experience of combat by having some troubles reintegrating into a society that knows nothing of combat. they -- and they've treated each other differently from the vietnam generation. they formed their own organizations to help each
other, to help us. 90% of them, according to polls, want to continue service in their communities because they are a generation of volunteers. and they have looked now more recently to their brothers and sisters who served in vietnam, are including them in their public service organizations like team rub con, which does disaster relief internationally and nationally. and it's important to know that when you see this horrifying statistic, the 22 veterans a day commit suicide -- we're talking about veterans of all wars. and the majority of those veterans are vietnam veterans. it has been a long, lonely, horrendous road back for our
vietnam veterans. and i'm honored to share the stage with these people. and i'd like to start with jan scruggs because if anybody walked point in redeeming this generation of veterans, in making the public aware of them after so many people had forgot ten way they were treated when they came home, it's jan. and so, jan, why don't you tell us how and why you did what you did. >> well, after i returned from vietnam, it's been a couple -- i spent a couple of years hopefullily running around on admonitions and getting in trouble. then i decided to get an education and got a master's degree from american university. while there, i did a research project on ptsd -- it was not
called ptsd then. and testified in front of kong, and wrote an article for the washington post. and that automatically makes you an expert in everything. >> i am aware of the phenomenon. >> it's often short-lived. but two years later i decided there should be a national vet nam veteran's mergial after seeing this movie "the deer hunter" i told myself the next day, i'm going to build a vet nam memorial in washington, d.c. i told my boss. and he said jan we all need a mental health day, and i think you need a couple of weeks. why don't you get out of here. so i went back to my school books and looked at the writings of carl young. he was a student of sigmund freud. carl young believed that there are collective psychological states, that there was a spiritual element to life, and that there are things that we shared. for example, when this great
team wins the championship, the entire campus goes wild. they share this memory and belief in their college and their school. i believe that people would have a belief that people who give their lives for america should be remembered by having their name engraved. so there was a theoretical basis for this entire thing. and i just kind of started it. did not know what i was doing. they finally did an article about my effort, and it said that the $188 had been raised in two months. as a result of that. we needed a team. so i was contacted by some guys who were graduates of the harvard business school who had all served in vietnam and who had also actually been to west
point. so these were a real band of brothers. so they kind of made a harvard business school problem out of this. we need land. we need a design. and you know, we needed the money. we put it all together, introduced a bill in 1979 in november. and in november 1982, the dedication took place. and i think you just saw some of the footage from that. [ applause ] >> were you surprised by the emotional outpouring? >> no because the whole idea of seeing a name on a monument with all of these emotions that have been freeze dried for years for these vietnam veteran people -- it was going to have a big psychological impact. there were going to be tears shed. but shed in a good way. and the designer of this memorial, maya ying lin was her
name. we had the largest architectural design competition held in the history of western civilization to get this. the person who conducted that is in our audience today, mr. bob dubec. she said let's put the names not in alphabetical order, but in chronological order. so if you were in a battle, you would see all these hundreds of names together, people who died together. and that takes the veteran back into the past, helps them confront the drama, and sometimes helps them recover from the vietnam war. >> i know that, you know, when i wrote my book "payback" about vietnam veterans in the early 1980s, i had to -- i had to find them through the army because they didn't -- they -- through the marines, excuse me. oh, boy, that's a big mistake.
[ laughter ] these were veterans of a single battle, of a single unit, and they had completely lost touch with each other. grace, you've been dealing with these people for the last 40 years. and i imagine i've bumped into more than a few iraq and afghanistan veterans. could you talk about the difference that -- you know, and the feelings of isolation that veterans feel when they come home? >> yeah, sure. but before i do that, i'd like to correct something. i did not serve as a medic. i was a volunteer for three and a half years with catholic relief. what happened i think is that when they went to research me on the website, my community free clinic made a mistake and they took linda who was an army nurse and was a medic and everything in vietnam, and i am her and she's me. i think it just got messed up a little bit.
and that was our fault as the community free clinic. not lbj library. you guys are good. okay. so coming back, coming out of vietnam after three and a half years -- and people say why did you go? well, you know, when you are young and you are 17 years old and you think you know everything, and you are bulletproof, yeah, you know, you are going to do thing that maybe later on in your life you regret. though i don't regret this at all. because i grew up very fast. i learned to care. and i learned that it was okay to say to somebody, yeah, i have post-traumatic stress, or yes, i have anxiety. or, yes, i have a problem that, you know, i can't describe. it's not medical. aspirin won't take care of it. ibuprofens won't. but there's something wrong.
and i don't know what it is, but there's something wrong. so when i was meetings up with my friends from vietnam, i was there doing tep, and my tep brothers when i came back to the united states -- we all connected and looked each other up. you know what, it was okay for me to say to my tep brothers -- because they weren't going to say it to me first. they were big macho men. many of them west point graduates. and they weren't about to admit there was anything wrong, that they were having flashbacks or nightmares or anything like that. and i remember when i said to them -- i said to skeet he, you know what, i can't sleep anymore. i can't sleep maybe two hours, three hours. and i keep waking up. it's not like i have bad dreams, but i just can't sleep. and amazingly, skeeter told me the same thing.
john lang told me the same thing. they are both passed now from agent orange. john passed january 23rd this year. he is the last of my vietnam -- my tep brothers. so i am the seoul living person left of that group. but it took that. you know, it took somebody else to say, i can't sleep, what's going on? and for years, we would not -- we would stay in touch, but we wouldn't be talking. but if i picked up the phone and called them, it was like my gosh it was just yesterday that we finished a conversation. it was you know like we just had never been apart for that many years. and this is the way it was with us. their homecoming was horrendous. because -- especially for john lang and for phil sleet. these west point graduates who had been generations of west
point graduates -- john's family -- i mean, his great, great grandfather was a west point graduate. it was a long line of military families. and all of these guys expected something more than what they got when they came home. so it was really tough for them. but then, my other friends, who came out of the corn fields of iowa, they expected maybe not a parade, but maybe they expected their family or their community to understand. but by the time they came home, the sentiments had turned against the vietnam war. and you had people who were protesting the war which look, i agree, because i did, too. you hate war. you love the warrior. they didn't start this damn war, i kept saying to myself. why are they -- i don't get it.
and it's true. even today. you hate the war, but you love the warrior. well, the differences between the way the vietnam veteran was treated and now the iraq/afghanistan veterans are treated is like night and day. and i tell you what, all you vietnam veterans in this room, you deserve to stand up and take a big bow, because it was because of you -- >> why don't you do that. [ applause ] yes. can we have all the vietnam veterans [ applause ] and now -- [ applause ] and if there are any iraq and afghanistan veterans, you join them. you know, one of the reasons i didn't decided to write another
book about veterans was because the experience was so different. but it was one of the great insights i had as i spent the last four years interviewing more recent veterans was that -- it was something that applied to vietnam veterans as well. and that is that post-traumatic stress isn't only about the things that you saw and did over there. a good part of it is about being part of a family, being part of a community, having brothers, and now brothers and sisters. and then when you come home, you come home all alone. one of the people i wrote about in charlie mike was with a woman who was a gunnery sergeant in a disposal ordnance disposal unit. you know, like hurt locker.
and she came home with a raging case of post-traumatic stress. she said i deployed myself to camp couch, and the commanding officer of camp couch was me. and my m.o.s., my military order specialty on camp couch was to stay on camp couch. and it seems to me that, especially in this new generation, one of the things that the rest of us can learn from them is the importance of community. but you were telling me a story before about how vietnam veterans have re-established communities for themselves. first of all, do you agree with me that -- >> absolutely. >> part of post-traumatic stress is the loss of the sense of community? >> absolutely. loss of sense of community, whether it's your family, or whether it's the place -- the small town that you live, absolutely. i was telling him this little story earlier. i work in a small town called
conkord, north carolina, it's just a little bit north of charlotte. very smallto town. and i work at a place called a community free clinic which provides free health care for ununinsured. and anyone who is poor, if you are sick you come to us, we will take care of you. [ applause ] and it is free. we take no federal money, we take no state money. we just do donations and volunteers and that's how we do it. but we also see lately in the last ten years or so, 12 years, we've been taking care of more and more veterans. and the main reason is twofold. one, they have benefits, but the closest v.a. is too far away and they have no transportation. so they know come to me, i'll take care of you, you will guilty your meds, no problem. and the other one is they don't
know they have the benefits. some of them really don't know they have the benefits. so we try to help them through that process as well. but the most interesting group of veterans that i know, and who are my patients is a group of about 12 people. it sometimes varies. 11, 12, 13, but no more than that. and they literally live out in the the woods. yes, the woods. they have tents. they set the perimeter. they live out in the woods. they are vietnam veterans. they have been out there for 40 years. they won't come in. i keep asking, and they say, no, doc, we're fine. but the thing of it is is that these guys know they are cuckoo for cocopuffs, because they will tell me that. they say, yeah, we know we're cuckoo for coco puffs. but when they went to the v.a. -- you know, when you have a mental illness or a mental
problem, you are in pain. it is a physical pain that you feel. of the' visceral. so when they would go to the v.a. and say, doc i'm in pain, they would get pain medications, which is not what they needed. but that's what they would get, pain medication. what they needed was maybe a mood stabilizer. but most importantly, they needed stwoun listen, and someone to talk to. you know, these guys, who years ago threw away their oxycontin, threw away their hydrocodone. they don't use them anymore. they don't. they just treat -- this is their community. this is their family. you know? and they help each other out. my nurse linda swallow and i go out to the woods in the wintertime to see them, to make sure that they get what they need, especially medications.
and i have got to tell you a funny story, if i may. my husband, joe galloway comes home one day and he sees these strange people this the house and he says who are these people? and i said they are just my homeless. they needed a pleas to stay the night. so they did that. another time he comes home, and there is a strange man raking our yard. an elderly gentleman and he is raking the yard. so he says, who is that? and it was one of my vietnam veterans who decided to pay me back by raking my yard. you know? i mean, this is the community that we live in that i think -- you know, regardless of the fact that these guys lived out in the woods, and we go isn't that a terrible thing? but to them, that was their home. that is their home. that is their commune. that is where they belong. and that is where if they -- if you are invited to come to their
house, this is where you would come, into their tent. >> uh-huh. >> you know? and they are proud of it. they keep it very neat. this is my home. >> jan, what was coming home like for you? what do you remember of it? >> well, i remember i came home just a few days before the kent state event. >> oh. >> it was not good. but i remember another -- i wanted to meet somebody to go out with and date. so this friend took me to lunch with this very atragive girl. and she said, you know -- she says one thing i would never do is go out with these vietnam veteran guys and i just watched this massacre, the pictures and if these when these people do, i would be afraid to go out with one of them. i kind of said maybe telling people you are a vietnam veteran is not a very good idea. so that's sort of where it started.
but i think the larger issue for these men and women increasingly now coming back from iraq and afghanistan and who knows where this will end, this war, which will never end -- what we did with the vietnam velt rans memorial. we said, look, we can separate the war from the warrior. and we got people like william westmoreland, very hawkish guy. i think he actually wanted to use nuclear weapons in vietnam. so we got westmoreland with george mcgovern. and i got to know them very well. so that made sort of a message. so we separated the war from the warrior. and when these guys and gals coming back from vietnam -- the vietnam veterans said, this is not going to happen to these people. the public, by and large, did not support particularly the war in iraq, especially as it went on. but nobody took it out on the veterans. and that's what the vietnam
veterans did. and by the way, a lot of them were our kids. you know, they would follow their fathers -- >> absolutely. >> yeah. >> that's absolutely true. and in terms of your generation of veterans, there were some who became activists because of it. and there are -- the vast majority just went on to live their lives. but a stereotype began to develop of vietnam veterans as half crazy when they came home. and it is a stereotype that has continued on to this generation of veterans. i'd like both of you to talk about that stereotype and how real is it? >> he will with, you have to remember that vietnam veteran invented the internet.
al gore, so we can't be crazy. it is difficult to come back from a situation like that and go right back to recall no. fred smith, federal express, saw a lot of come bad in vietnam. james kinsy, the original founder of america on line. there are a lot of really successful people, including people who have themselves struggled with ptsd. but that does not have to destroy you. you can deal with it and it can also get better over time and one of the great experts is sitting next to me. >> well, pts, post-traumatic stress -- that's why i've got this lovely little dog here. his name is jacques. affection addly known as jacques, t-- affectionately knon as jacques, the wonder dog.
the best way i can tell you how to deal with your perks pts is to give back to your community. a lot of what we have is survivor's guilt. how come i lived and they died. of the' survivors guilt. giving back is sort of in my mind my way of saying to all my friend who died and who i held in my arms when they died -- it is my way of saying to them, i pay you this honor, this respect, this love, and thank you. >> actually, there are statistics that now are beginning to show that that's an actual fact. one of the people i wrote about in charlie mike, his name is erik writens.
and he was a navy s.e.a.l. he was blown up in iraq. came back, was at bethesda hospital. and he started walking the wards and asking the wounded veterans there, far more severely wounded than he was, what do you want to do now? and the unanimous answer -- i've had this same experience at walter reed, and i'm sure you have as well. the inevitable answer is, i want to go back and join my unit. and eric would say, well, after you leave the service, what do you want to do? and they would say, i want to coach back home. or become a teacher. or a firefighter. whatever. and in the course of talking to these kids, eric came up with a
killer sentence. he said "thank you for your service. we still need you". i live my life inpry regret that i didn't come up with that sentence and wasn't able to say to it the generation of vietnam veterans who were never told it. but eric went on to start an organization called the mission continues, which gave six-month public service fellowships to wounded veterans. and there have been academic studies that have been done now that show that helping others is a really wonderful way to treat post-traumatic stress, that it actually works. and the other thing i'd say is this, that the act of service is
a very important, crucial part of democracy. it's something that we've kind of lost track of in this country. and, jan, were you drafted or did you volunteer? >> i volunteered for the draft and age 18. and they were looking for people like me. [ laughter ] and president obama, coincidentally gave me a 20-year appointment. i'm actually the chairman of selective service. it is a national appeals board if they ever have the draft again. we'll hear the cases. but it's very important what you are talking about. everyone here has some degree of mental health and wants to preserve it, even make it better. one of the worst things you can do and that veterans can do is to withdraw, is to start living alone, to sit on that couch by yourself and look at tv.
you have got to be ingauged with people. people will give you a reality check. people are always doing that to me, jan, you are going too far, you are -- people will give you a reality check. and when you actually give back to people, it will -- the universe will give it back to you. karma, whatever you want to call it, i don't care, but it's very important. i'm very glad you brought that point up. >> one thing i'd point out to the vet nam veterans in the audience, is that a lot of the organizations that they new generation has formed, which is a major difference between them and vietnam veterans who didn't form all that many organizations, support organizations for each other -- but groups like team rub con, which do international disaster reli relief, mission continues which has service platoons all over the country, they are now reaching out to vietnam veterans and asking them to be part of this effort, to join up and
serve. and it's a really wonderful -- i've gone out on deployments. and when you see veterans getting together and organizing themselves the way military folks do, and organizing themselves to help other people, the joy that they got out of it and the amazement that civilians who don't know anything of the military life -- the appreciation that they get out of it is a remarkable thing. i think that for me, you know, the first thing that i knew of vietnam veterans acting as a group was, you know, vietnam veterans against the war, john kerry, who will be here later in the week. >> yep. >> but it seems to me that there is an awful lot that the rest of
us civilians can learn from veterans, can learn about being a citizen, can learn about service, can learn about community. and you know, as the head of the selective service commission, i might recommend to you that we start thinking more as a society about all kinds of service and making it part of the growing coming of age cycle for young men and women. >> yeah. >> yes. >> certainly -- [ applause ] >> you know, in countries and societies that are smaller than ours, israel is sort of a great example -- everyone either has to go into the military or -- i had an israeli employee who was fantastic. and she didn't really want to be involved with firearms or all that but she spent 18 months working in a mental hospital. so everyone does have to give back. and there is a social -- social cohesion which is now missing
with the disparities in income, you know, the racial divide that continues, this awful presidential contest which i just can't stand. you know, all of these things -- all these people are trying to -- >> you had to remind me. this is my vacation from that. >> all these people are trying to pull us apart. but there is so much about us that is so fantastic. maybe you have to come to texas to really appreciate it. but it's a fantastic country we live in. [ applause ] >> grace? >> yeah. you know, you brought up an excel on the point. and i agree. i believe that every single person, when they turn 18, owes their country two years of service. i don't care what it is. for two years, service. if you want to go to the military, that's fine. but whether it's public health, whether it's mental health. whether it's serving the community as a teacher in an
underprivileged area. you owe your country two years. and that way, i think we may be able to get back into our community and into our country that sense of altruism and that we are indeed the family of man and we'll make a better country and make a better world. you know -- people say america's the best country in the world. and i say not yet. not yet. as long as there is one homeless veteran and as long as there's one child that goes to bed hungry, we're not there yet. but we can get there. so how about it? come on. >> you know -- [ applause [ applause ] i forgot what i was going to say.
but there are those who are still suffering. >> yes. >> and how do you deal with them? you deal with them still on a daily basis. >> yes, i do. >> for the people out here, what do you -- you know, people come to me as having written these books and say, well how can we deal with these folks? i spoke recently at an organization -- terrific organization called give an hour, which is in association with 6,000 therapists that volunteer an hour of therapy each week, psychological therapy for veterans coming back from iraq and afghanistan. and they don't know how to deal with them. and the thing that civilians never ask, and your generation was never asked, because people thought that the answer would be
a lie is tell me what you did over there. what was it like? go. >> vietnam veterans really deserve a lots of respect. it was a really difficult war to fight in. the combat was -- it was always hot over there. combat tended to be at very close range because the vietnamese, the vietcong and the north vietnamese regiments, which were very skilled fighters, they knew they had to get bullet buckle to belted buckle. so there were high casualties in these fights. and a lot of people went over there and the draft supplied a lot of people. 17,000 people -- over 17,000 people on the vietnam memorial were drafted.
during the height of the war, four years, there were an average of 20 people, 20 americans, killed per day. that's a lot of people. i'm not sure we could really put up with that right now as a country. >> no. >> i think these wars going on in iraq and afghanistan. we have a volunteer army. so people can say, my kids aren't going to get drafted and after all they are volunteers. so there is not this uproar about these wars, which maybe there should be, maybe there shouldn't be. i'm not really sure. so it's really important to remember how difficult it was and how they lowered the standards as the war went on because they had the college deferments back home to get people in who really should not have been in the u.s. military. and it was tragedy that many of them would inevitably get killed in combat because they were not -- didn't know what to do. >> it's harder to get in the army now than it is to get into community college. it's true. >> yeah. >> and you know, what we're
talking about here is something that is primal and essential. i always feel that i haven't done my job sitting or standing in front of a group like this if i don't recommend someone else's book. there is a book by william mcneil, the military historian, that has a lovely title. it's called "keeping together in time". and it's a history of close order drill. and his theory is that at the dawn of civilization on the african savanna, if you wanted to go out and get om meat for dinner and you witness out by yourself with your little spear, the chances were that you would be the lion's dinner. and that over time, the habit grew of young men doing the kill the lion dance together. and that gave them a much better
chance of coming home with some protein. and he believes that that instinct was hard wired -- is hard wired into young men. and we're trying to get by these days without having any coming of age ritual at all for young men. and too many of them join gangs and fraternities. that's -- you know, that's what you've got. and i do believe that an essential part of the honor that is owed to the veterans of vietnam and to these more recent veterans -- but especially to the veterans of vietnam because they weren't given the honor at the time is the honor of recognizing that they, as terrible as it was, and as
unfair as it was, they fulfilled their humanity, and their citizenship in a way that the people who scorned them never did. yeah. [ applause ] >> and allow me to add -- i know that governor rob's in the audience arc decorated marine. but i'll tell you what. if you were wounded on a ball s battlefield in vietnam -- which i was -- >> i love the way you save that for the last five minutes. >> if you are woundsed in iraq. if you are an american soldier, somebody's going to get you, come and get you. you know, people will give their lives for you. so -- >> uh-huh. >> that's what i saw enough of in vietnam. and i'm really proud of those
guys. >> uh-huh. [ applause ] >> well, following -- tough to follow up with that, jan. but i think that what we owe our veterans, vietnam veterans, iraq, afghanistan veterans -- what we owe all veterans is you hear about respect and honor. yes. but how do we do it? we, in our clinic, and the way i found the best way to honor them, is to listen. listen to them. because a lot of times they maybe don't want to talk to you, but they want you to sit there. so just be with them. or let them talk to you. because you talking to them means absolutely nothing,
really. they have got to get to a point -- or we i should say, have to get to a point where we can listen to you. and a lot of times we will go in and out of that. yes, okay. i'm ready to listen to you today, but yesterday i wasn't. and maybe tomorrow i won't be. but for all of you families who are dealing with people with pts, listen, be there, hold their hand. if they don't want to be touched, don't touch them. respect that. and you will be doing so much more than any psychiatrist could do. >> i -- you know, i want to -- i want to close this with a story about a veteran who shared this stage with me the last time i was here. and i think the thing that infuriates me most as a journalist, and as a citizen,
is -- and as someone who has you know, covered wars, seen what soldiers and marines and sailors and airmen do, is public sense that veterans are victims. and veterans, many veterans have internalized this -- many veterans, and i'm sure many of you vietnam veterans out there -- many of these generation of veterans won't put their service on their resumes because they think it will be harder for them to get hired. but there is a -- the fellow who shared this stage with me, his name is seth malton. and he graduated from harvard in june of 2001, before 9/11, with a dual degree in physics and
philosophy. and he used the occasion to announce that he was joining the marines. i came from good old new england liberal stock and his mother told the boston globe the next day, i would have only been more disappointed if seth announced he was pursuing a life of crime. in fact, there was a woman sitting out over there who said, during the q and as got up and said, seth, i'm your mom. do you still believe that what you did was right? and seth said absolutely. seth served four tours in iraq. and he came home, and he decided to run for congress up in boston. and i don't know how many of you have seen the movie spotlight, but the guy who was the hero of
spotlight, the journalist, walter robinson, made a practice of going through the records of war veterans who ran for office because usually they -- in many cases, they exaggerated their records. so about a month before the election, found out that walter robinson was investigating seth malton and there was going to be a story coming out in the boston globe. and that story came out two weeks before the election. and walter robinson discovered this unbelievable thing about seth malton, that he had received two bronze stars and a navy action medal. i forget what the exact medal it was. and he had never told anybody, including his parents. and walter robinson asked seth why he never told anybody.
and seth said, i joined the military because i felt that it was my duty as a citizen, especially someone who had had the privileges that i had had at harvard. i was against the war in iraq. but i figured my job there was to get my guys through. and i didn't succeed in that, so what is there to brag about? in my experience, that -- that's what a veteran is. you know? i won't use the word hero because they hate it when you do. but these are people who we need to learn from. and the struggles of the vietnam generation in particular are a terrible american tragedy that i
hope as we move along on we can rectify in the way that jan started and the way that you do every day. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> announcer: former secretary of state henry kissinger defended his role in the vietnam war to a gathering of policy makers, vietnamese, veterans and war protesters. some 40 years after the fall of saigon and america's withdrawal from vietnam, he called the 1975 saigon evacuation one of the saddest moments of his life. but insists he had no regrets. kissinger sat down with lbj presidential library director markupte grove as part of a three day conference in texas that organizers called the
vietnam war summit, then took questions are the audience. this program is about 90 minutes. >> please welcome mr. david feriy, archivist of the united states, mrs. linden johnson rob, daughter of linden and lady bird johnson. a vietnam immigrant. ms. loousz lucy baines johnson, daughter of linden and lady bird johnson. and a retired major general of the united states army. a silver star, bronze star, and purple heart recipient. [ applause ] the archive of this library contains t
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