A tune John Fogarty wrote in 1971 echoes among veterans who spent time in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Lyrics reference a calm before a storm that’s “been comin’ for some time.” For many the turbulence continued long after departing Southeast Asia. Public sentiment roiled in a backlash of anti-war marches and protests when they returned. “Welcome Home” was rare and delivered in hushed tone—mostly from those with personal insight of where they had been.
It took a toll on a generation of some nine million members of our armed forces who served during a 20 year period from 1955-1975. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 7.2 million are living today. Healing wounds seen and unseen, suffered in spite of their burden, has been an unending effort across government agencies and the nation.
Since then veterans’ organizations, public and private partnerships have made strides in mending damage. Iconic tributes like the Vietnam Memorial and annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally in Washington, D.C. provide some comfort for a generation that lost 58,220 men and women. Meanwhile, the search continues for 1,600 service members throughout Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam who remain unaccounted.
The war has a complicated legacy that casts long shadows. Fifty years ago, Americans witnessed explicit images in photographs and television. Places like Khe Sanh, Hue, Tet, and My Lai summon indelible memories among those who survived, then faced the challenges of returning home. Soothing their injuries, both moral and physical, is ongoing. More recently the President signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act designating March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
The 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War became official following passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2008. By presidential proclamation in 2012, the commemoration extends through Veterans Day 2025. The tribute makes no distinction among veterans who served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during those two decades. All answered a call to duty.
Today gives everyone a chance to recognize Vietnam Veterans for their service and sacrifice during one of the longest conflicts in our country’s history.
As Americans unite to thank them, USDA is grateful to include more than 10,000 former service members in its ranks. The Department is especially proud of the contributions of this and every generation of veterans and their families.
Veterans strengthen America’s rural economy. USDA continues to stand alongside them with services like mentorship, loan programs, funding for training and technical assistance, and advice about employment, education, and entrepreneurship.
It's been coming for some time.