Vietnam Veterans

Vietnam veterans were generally not welcomed as heroes when they returned to the United States. Many Americans extended their negative feelings about the war to those who fought it, and veterans found themselves personally attacked for their service in Vietnam.

"Unlike those who served before him, the Vietnam veteran is denied a clear sense of purpose, of pride, in his military serviceā€¦ (he) does not return to the assured respect and appreciation of his countrymen. Instead he typically returns to indifference, disapproval and anger."

Dr. Charles A. Stenger, 1971

Once home, service members had to fight for benefits they were promised, like bonuses and health care, and many struggled with their physical and mental health after the war. They were also overlooked by their communities and not given the respect and recognition received by veterans of most earlier wars.

In recognition that the experiences of Vietnam veterans were different than earlier veterans, even libraries learned how to change their approach to better serve them. A speech that Dr. Charles A. Stenger gave at a 1971 Veterans Administration conference was reprinted in both the Federal Library Commission's March 1972 newsletter and the Journal of the Minnesota Library Association in the spring of 1973 (page 7). Read the excerpt below:

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