Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Silent Veterans of the Vietnam War | Canada

Canadian Volunteers: Silent Veterans Of Vietnam War
Article :- February 01, 1985|By Christopher S. Wren, New York Times News Service.
Link :- Retrieved from The Chicago Tribune,
"The North Wall" Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial Windsor - Ontario - Canada
Note - 
Canada did not support the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, yet the City of Windsor allowed for a waterfront memorial to Canadians lost fighting with the American forces.

The Vietnam War was fought between communist North Vietnam and the government of Southern Vietnam. The North was backed by communist countries such as the China and at the time, the Soviet Union [now known as Russia]. The South was supported by anti-communist countries, and for the most part the United States. The Vietnam War has been called a "proxy" war during the Cold War for the reason that even though the Soviet Union and the United States did not directly go to war, they each supported a different side in the war.

However despite losing the War; well withdrawing from it, the US had some support from their northerly neighbours, Canada. But unfortunately as the article I have chosen to focus on iterates, Canada were the silent veterans of the Cold War. The article was published in 1985, ten years after the US troops had withdrawn in 1975, and even so, the impact of the war is still felt and there is a knock-on effect that the veterans dealt with, particularly the Canadians for; “They are invisible veterans of an unpopular war, so reticent about their experience that next-door neighbours may never know that they served in Vietnam…Yet 56 of their comrades died in that war. They were the Canadian volunteers”.

That is why this article reacts to the unmistakably forgetfulness of the United States and how they dismiss the help they received from Canada and limited recognition and support they received unlike their counterparts on return from the War. For the Canadian veterans, “do not receive rehabilitation and other benefits because they live across the border. Their country is remembered more for harbouring Americans who fled service in Vietnam than for producing volunteers for the conflict”, and as one Canadian veteran pointed out, “Canadians are never considered because nobody even knows about us… Yet during the war they were more than happy to take us”.

However the benefits that the veterans received were far from complimentary, The U.S. Veterans Administration said the Canadians were eligible for most of the benefits available to American Vietnam veterans, although some benefits were limited to U.S. citizens – specifically free medical care. As it had to be sought at a Veterans Administration hospital or other approved American facility it meant that Canadian veterans seeking care must leave their jobs and travel sometimes long distances, paying their own way.

Pictured - Unknown Canadian Solider in uniform
during the Vietnam War.
Not only were benefits less than satisfactory for the Canadian veterans the reception that they received upon returning to Canada was anything but appraisal. It was unfortunate because even those in the Canadian government were less than appreciate of their veterans, even going as far as dismissing that any Canadians were involved in the War. The article quotes Vern Murphy a spokesman for the Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs who stated, “Canada was not involved in the Vietnam War…The case of those that have, for that war cannot be a burden on the Canadian taxpayer, because we weren`t involved in it”. Similarly, “Since Canada was not a party to that conflict, their veterans do not have access to Canadian benefits under the bilateral agreement”, as explained by a consular officer at the American Embassy in Ottawa.

What’s more important is that even though they had been duped by their own country, and recognising that they had been done so, “We made a big sacrifice during a time of need for the U.S. and we`ve come back and been shafted”. Yet none of the Canadians that were interviewed in this article regretted having volunteered and being stationed in Vietnam, as one veteran spoke that, “I have a lot of admiration for the Marine Corps and the United States and I’d never turn my back on them”, and then adding, “It’s a damn good country to fight and die for”.

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