WASHINGTON — Thanking veterans for their service and bravery is the right thing to do, right? Well, according to a recent poll from Cohen Veterans Network 49% of veterans don’t like to be thanked for their service. I didn't believe it, so I went to the National Mall to ask some veterans for myself.
Anothy Mustifer served in the United States Air Force during Vietnam from 1968-1969. While he now appreciates being thanked for his service, he felt differently when he came back from Vietnam.
"We waited how many years, 50 years for this?" Mustifer asked his fellow veteran, "and now we appreciate it, [but] it hasn’t always been that way."
Jay Broadhead was a military police officer in the 82 airborne who also served in Vietnam.
"I feel really grateful now," Broadhead said as he teared up. "We were treated so badly when we came home. You wanted to not even let anybody know that you were a veteran. And now, to have people say thank you for being a veteran it’s emotional, very emotional."
Robert Wordrick served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 with the 11th A.C.R., but unlike the other veterans I met today, he didn't see receiving thanks for his service in quite the same way.
"Well, there was a time when I didn’t real feel like I needed to be thanked," Wordrick said. "I felt like what we did, it was part of our job. It was part of what we went over to Vietnam for and I didn’t feel like we needed to be thanked for it."
Tony Maze made his way to D.C. from Utah to see the Vietnam War Memorial with his buddy Jay. Tony served with the 4th infantry division in Vietnam.
"I think it’s long overdue," Tony said. "But I feel like it’s an honor. It makes me feel like what I went through wasn’t for nothing."
Jay and Tony were able to search the Vietnam Memorial for the names of their friends who lost their lives in the war.
"That was really emotional [for us]," they said in tandem.
They showed me the charcoal etchings they made of their friends' names and told me about them.
"His name is Raymond Carpenter," Tony said. "I went through A.I.T. and basic training with him in Fort Luis and Fort Polk Louisiana."
"This is Blaine Welch," Jay said while fighting back tears. "We grew up together. He was a Marine sniper in Vietnam. He got killed just before I went to Vietnam."
I asked Jay to explain how it felt to see his friend's name today.
"It was really hard to hold it together," the former military police officer explained. "And seeing that many [names on the wall] and thinking [about] all of our friends and people [who served], it could have been us. It was very emotional."
I only ran into Vietnam veterans today and their position makes sense to me given their less than warm welcome home. I am still curious to know how veterans of other wars feel about being thanked.
Do you like it? Has it always been that way? Let us know on our WUSA9 Instagram poll.