Ed “Doc” Golden says enlisting in the military did not require any one thanking him. In fact, after serving in Vietnam, he didn’t hear “thank you” for many years.
America’s involvement in Vietnam tore society apart with the result often being that those who served felt the brunt of the public’s reaction.
Not until recent decades have the individuals that served received the respect and honor they deserved. One such event to do just that will take place next week as Veterans of the Vietnam War are honored at a Pinning and Proclamation Ceremony. The event takes place Sept. 20 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Humana’s Creekwood Commons Community northland location at 215 NE Englewood Road, Suite A, Kansas City, Mo.
The event is open to the public and Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who served on active duty between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975 are eligible to participate in the ceremony regardless of where they served. Families of vets are also encouraged to attend.
The ceremony is being hosted by Human as a partner with the Vietnam War Commemoration, which is sponsored by the U.S. Government. There are a total of 714 events scheduled or that have taken place in Missouri and Kansas.
The special commemoration marks the conclusion of Veterans’ Appreciation Week at the Humana location —which honors veterans with different events— including a thank you card signing party, memory lane remembrance walk, veterans community resource fair and much more.
Ed “Doc” Golden, of Blue Springs, now serves as Chaplain for Vietnam Veterans of America Post 317 in Kansas City. He sees the ceremony as crucial to the continuing healing process of Vietnam vets.
Golden enlisted in 1962 at the age of 17. In fact, he says, he celebrated his 17th birthday at the enlistment center.
“I proudly enlisted and took the oath to defend this country and follow the orders given me.,”” says Goden. “This was to be the beginning of a life long dream of following the footsteps of many family members, including two brothers in law, who were already serving.”
Golden shares that many people associate conditions like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), with those who were under enemy fire, and having been shot at was the worst thing that could happen. The term, “Shell Shot” would be used as a name for many types of mental health problems from the service that had nothing to do with being shot.
But because of the reception that returning vets got from some in public, he says their coming from Vietnam was anything but a rousing, “Welcome Home.”
“It would turn out that I would not want anyone to know I was ever in the military for many, many years to come. My reasons are different from many, but I ended up with the same scars, the same wounds, and the same mental and emotional health as did many of my fellow veterans.
But Golden says that he, like millions of others, ended up with emotional scars that would later be labeled PTSD. He plans to share his story at the event, which he says, is part of the healing process.
Joining Golden at the ceremony will be LTC Chuck Hagemeister who will be presented as a Medal of Honor winner.
Other guests include Diana Pitts, Goldstar Mother from Military Families United and Ron Adams, Representative of VVA, Kansas City and Joe Bartkoski, representing Humana.
The program was established by Congress in 2012 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and to thank and honor Vietnam veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 9 million Americans served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War; approximately 7 million are living today.
To reach these large numbers of veterns, the program has enlisted the assistance of many thousands of Commemorative Partner organizations, like Human, at the local, state and national levels to conduct pinning events and activities that recognize Vietnam veterans and their families in their local communities.
For more on the program, visit www.vietnamwar50th.com.
–By Dwight Widaman