No Peace

PictureNo Peace (Jim Fox)

We came home nearly forty years ago to a place that we didn’t know, and that didn’t know us. We tried our best to fit in, to go back in time, trying to return to who we were and what we had been just a few short years earlier. For most of us it didn’t work. The world that we knew, and thought they knew us, was no longer there, gone, along with our innocence, and a lot of our friends. Many things, and in some cases, people, that just a few years earlier had meant so much to us, meant nothing now, and the feeling was mutual. Often, the one that had promised to wait forever, didn’t….but we never knew ’til we came home. Sometimes, even the churches that we went to before, didn’t want us sitting in the same pews with “good” people on Sunday. After all….WE had blood on our hands. Things like this are hard to forget, or forgive.

Our “before Nam” buddies, the ones who didn’t go, weren’t anymore. The ones that would still talk to us just wanted to know what we had “DONE” over there. And then didn’t want to listen when we told them. They soon figured out that weren’t putting up with their bullshit, and stopped coming around. We had lost friends before….We tried to forget………..

So, time goes by, many of us found someone who accepted us, and was willing to put up with our little “quirks”. Soon we had kids, a place to live, and in some instances, after many failed attempts, a pretty descent job. And, we had a dog (him we could trust). It seemed as if we had everything we needed……….We almost forgot………..BUT………

But there was NO PEACE. There was NEVER any PEACE. Not really. Things were just never the same for us. Everyone always wondered why, bu they didn’t really want to know. Some people said, “If it’s that Vietnam thing, get over it. It wasn’t really a war, and besides it was a long time ago. Grow up”. Most people don’t deserve to know, most never will. We do.

The people we choose to let into our lives are either like us, or accept us for who we are. We seem to surround ourselves with others, who like us, also can not forget, yet who we know we can forever, and always, really trust. Those that know what we are about, what is in our hearts, and that share the love we have for each other. WE WILL NEVER FORGET, That’s what makes us, ………..The Vietnam Veteran………….BROTHERS FOREVER

Jim Fox, 1st Cav, 67-68

Vietnam Veterans Day

Mike Muller is on the Advisory Board for Thuy Smith International Outreach. He is a Vietnam veteran, has a Ph.D. in psychology, and has counseled veterans for many years.  He writes novels under the pen name of Michael FitzGordon. 


This blog was written by Michael (Vietnam Veteran), with final thoughts at the end by Thuy (Amerasian Daughter of an American Vietnam Veteran).

Vietnam Veterans Day

It sure woulda been nice if they had one of these back in 1970.

Maybe people wouldn’t have called me a baby killer after I just got through risking my life for them.

Maybe not so many people would have said such stupid things that upset me, like only the stupid people didn’t find a way to get out of it.

Maybe that Catholic priest at the university Catholic student center would have thought twice about saying from the pulpit during services that Vietnam veterans were immoral.

Maybe I wouldn’t have had to try so hard to hide the fact that I was a Vietnam veteran.

Maybe I wouldn’t have felt like I better leave my military service off my resume if I wanted to get a job.

Maybe the VFW would have wanted me for a member.

Maybe me and millions of other Vietnam veterans would have wanted to join such organizations in the first place because we weren’t afraid we would be treated badly.

Maybe the WWII veterans who told so many war stories wouldn’t have cut me off and changed the subject when I started to tell my own war stories.

If you had asked me if I wanted a Vietnam Veterans Day, I would have said, “Hell no!  You take your stupid war and its memories and shove it where the sun don’t shine.”

We have a Pearl Harbor Day, don’t we?  Why not have another day that will live in infamy?

If you’re tired of all the celebratory days, you could ease out one of the others, something like “Chocolate Chip Cookie Day,” to make room for a Vietnam Veterans Day.  Do I myself really want a Vietnam Veterans Day?  Do I really want the pain?  I’m not so sure.

Maybe I’ll accept a Vietnam Veterans Day if you promise not to glorify war and act like it’s Bill and Ted’s Big Adventure.

Thuy’s added thoughts

Our Vietnam Veteran’s Day events are about healing, education, common ground, and bridging the gap. It is about bringing together all those who were connected to the Vietnam war era. To learn more go to our website at

Disclaimer: If you are needing more extensive assistance or counseling, we can supply you with a list of available agencies to assist you. No blogs are ever meant to substitute a person seeking help through professional counseling.

Mike Muller:  MACV CORDS operations advisor, Binh Chanh District, 1970.  Briefing officer for DEPCORDS Ambassador Funkhouser to CG & staff, III Corps Vietnam, 1971.  In addition to briefing the staff I briefed visiting officials such as the Secretary of the Army.  I was in Vietnam for one tour.

Morality: The Gap Between Civilians and Combat Veterans

Mike Muller is on the Advisory Board for Thuy Smith International Outreach. He is a Vietnam veteran, has a Ph.D. in psychology, and has counseled veterans for many years.  He writes novels under the pen name of Michael FitzGordon. 


This blog was written by Michael (Vietnam Veteran), with final thoughts at the end by Thuy (Amerasian Daughter of an American Vietnam Veteran).

Morality: The Gap Between Civilians and Combat Veterans

I want to make it perfectly clear that morality is exactly the same for civilians and combat veterans. However, there is often a wide divergence in the experience and understanding of morality between these two groups. In combat we see a wide range of moral behaviors, from the monstrously depraved to the gloriously heroic and good. Of course we also see this in civilian life, but generally speaking the extremes are usually not so pronounced.

Let us look at depravity first. Currently in the news there is a furor about some U.S. Marines who urinated on the bodies of their dead enemies. These kinds of acts happen in every war. In the Pacific in WWII Marines would knock out the gold teeth of their dead enemies. When they saw incidents of the Japanese mutilating dead American soldiers, they retaliated by mutilating dead Japanese soldiers. However, the news of these kinds of atrocities was suppressed. In the war in Vietnam such atrocities often received attention in the U.S. press. Usually the U.S. press captured the atrocities and corruption committed by American soldiers rather than the atrocities and corruption of Vietnamese soldiers, whether from North or former “South” Vietnam. Men drank from the skulls of their dead enemies. They made necklaces of ears. And so on. You get the idea. Obviously there is no justification for such depravity. Most men in combat know that these kinds of actions are wrong. However, in various times, places, and units, they become carried away. They are far from home, living and acting like beasts, killing and living in fear of being killed month after month, and for sometimes years. They crack and commit atrocities.

It seems to me that most civilians think that this could never happen to them. Psychological research, however, shows not only that it could happen, in some situations it most likely will. It does not take much pressure at all to make most people behave badly. Fraternity and sorority hazing is the most mundane example of ordinary college students succumbing to really rather mild social pressure to behave badly. In “Mean Girls, young schoolgirls bully each other. In time of war the pressures are far greater. Guards in prison camps can become very cruel. These soldiers, after all, were once civilians themselves. So let us not be horrified so much by what those soldiers have done, but let us be horrified by our own human nature, which so easily lapses into bestiality. Let us do a better job of training soldiers to be more psychologically resilient in war, and to act with integrity while in the hell of war. Easier said than done. The first step in this process is to recognize and admit to the depravity in all of us. Then we can prepare to prevent its emergence.

Consider the good and the heroic. Consider people risking and giving their lives to save the lives of others. There is no greater love than to give your life for another. Consider the moral judgments soldiers make. In the heat of combat soldiers must often instantly make moral judgments that would take the Supreme Court years to decide. A man is pinned beneath a burning tank and screaming as he is burning to death. A friend puts him out of his misery with a bullet. I think many people would tend to have intellectual arguments about how euthanasia is always wrong. But there is very little that is intellectual about watching your friend burning to death. And it does not take any intellectual deliberation at all to decide to do what you feel is right. The Supreme Court might want to argue such a case for years, but the soldier makes what he feels is the correct moral judgment almost instantaneously.

I once heard that a judge in the Nuremberg trials said that it was always wrong to kill prisoners. Most people without much experience of the realities of war would probably be all too quick to agree with this proposition. Don’t forget that many states do in fact kill prisoners. It’s called capital punishment. But somehow, when people are having intellectual arguments about these kinds of issues, they tend to be far removed from the reality of such situations. Consider that your platoon of thirty men is in the jungle far from your base, and you are surrounded by the enemy and need to make your way out of this perilous situation. You have six prisoners. If you call for a helicopter to have them evacuated, the helicopter will almost certainly be shot down. You cannot possibly take the prisoners with you as you try to covertly evade the enemy all around you. If you do, all thirty of you will almost certainly be killed. If you release the prisoners, they will immediately tell the enemy which direction you went in, how many of you there are, and what weapons and supplies you have, and again you will almost certainly be killed. So you decide to kill the prisoners. It is self defense in a time of war. You may remember that in Saving Private Ryan they released a prisoner rather than kill him, only to have that same prisoner kill the character played by Tom Hanks. Is it wrong to kill prisoners? Generally speaking, yes. But one can think of situations in which there is no other choice, and the soldier makes what he feels is the correct decision instantly and with little or no intellectualizing.

In a future blog I want to address killing and torture, as well as the fragging and killing of officers and others in combat, which happens more often than most people suspect. War is hell. It is a nightmare. I encourage everyone to pray to God that they will always do what is right. And pray that you will not be tested. Most civilians do not understand what soldiers have endured, and I believe that this is perhaps the biggest, yet unrecognized, part of post-traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers tend not to talk about their combat experiences, and even try not to think about them, because they know that most civilians will simply not understand. The civilians will most likely not be able to tolerate the horror, or they may make smug, self-righteous statements about morality that only make the soldier feel still sicker about the horror in which he participated. So the soldier becomes isolated and alienated by the horror he carries within, and cannot share with others. He is thereby excluded from any understanding, empathy, forgiveness, and intimacy by the very people who sent him to war, and for whom he fought and endured this horror. His service extends from a brief tour of duty to a lifetime as he protects the civilians from the horror. In this situation who is sicker? Those who must bear the painful reality, or those civilians who cannot bear it? And is PTSD a diagnosis of an individual’s sickness, or a diagnosis of his situation in which he is alienated from a society that cannot bear the truth?

Thuy’s added thoughts

War never ends when it ends. For many it is just beginning. The rippling effects continue long after the war is done. People in the U.S. are still dealing with issues from their own civil war, which began 150 years ago, and was fought by our great -great grandparents.

As Mike shared, there are the atrocities that take place during war. That is how war is and can never be avoided. This is why it is also vitally important for all citizens to question the justification before entering war and having to put our men and women serving our country in that position.

To question and to have this assurance is is not only the Rights, Ideals, and Freedoms of the American people and it’s veterans, it is also their duty. This is the very reason behind Veteran’s intentions for serving… protect these very rights and freedoms.

Read Related Post Part two-  

Morality, Pacifism, Killing, and Torture

Disclaimer: If you are needing more extensive assistance or counseling, we can supply you with a list of available agencies to assist you. No blogs are ever meant to substitute a person seeking help through professional counseling.

Mike Muller:  MACV CORDS operations advisor, Binh Chanh District, 1970.  Briefing officer for DEPCORDS Ambassador Funkhouser to CG & staff, III Corps Vietnam, 1971.  In addition to briefing the staff I briefed visiting officials such as the Secretary of the Army.  I was in Vietnam for one tour.

Healing and rebuilding- One Vet’s thoughts


When I look back over the years and think about things that happened when I returned, my family, especially my Mother and Father were there for me to welcome me home. As time passed, I became aware that we as Vietnam Veterans were not looked upon as those of wars past and no “thank you” for doing what we were asked to do by our country. For several years I became very angry and full of hatred toward the country I was taught by my family to love and respect.

Several years later I met my wife Marilyn and married in 1971. Our first years of marriage were like all, an adjustment. But thanks to Marilyn who recognized my true role life in life and became my best friend and counselor. Today, thanks to her and my family, I am over all of this aggression and have a wonderful life!

Speaking in schools

About 10 years ago, I was asked by Social Studies teachers if I would speak to the class as they studied Vietnam and the “sixties”. I was honored to do this, but did not know how this would be received. So I did what I thought would maybe be the best for the kids. I gave them the opportunity to ask me questions about this era of America and my experience. I was amazed at the response. They asked alot of great questions which I answered on my own experience.

So for over the years I continue to speak and would encourage other Vietnam Veterans to get involved and tell our story.


Thuy Smith International has done great things. First and foremost, her total dedication to help us all.

The organization, driven by Thuy, was responsible for getting the Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Day bill passed. Now each year, March 29th, is our day. The banquet is a great healing program for everyone to get together and share camaraderie. Please make an effort to attend; you’ll get alot out of the day.

Medical container

When Thuy asked me to help load a container of medical items bound for Vietnam, I thought about how for me this would give back to the now rebuilding of Vietnam. This was probably the first time I helped to rebuild the county of Vietnam.

*Jerry and his wife have both been volunteers for TSIO at part of a planning team for two years in a row (Annual banquet).

*TSIO recognizes everyone’s experience was different in Vietnam and when they returned, the different ways people process their experiences, and where people are at today with their experiences. This is just one of many stories.

Veterans Non-Service Connected Pension

Mike Haley is on the Advisory Board for Thuy Smith International Outreach. He is also a County Veteran Service Officer for WI.

Veterans Non-Service Connected Pension

 A VA pension is paid to wartime veterans who have limited income and are considered to be totally disabled for work purposes.  A wartime veteran age 65 is automatically considered disabled for this pension.

The general rule for eligibility is active duty service with an honorable discharge served at least at some point during wartime.   Most veterans serving from December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946, June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955, August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975 and after August 2, 1990 are in the eligible timeframe.

The financial numbers to be used for determining this pension are income from almost all sources including social security, interest, retirement payments, dividends, and from a business. The veteran’s household income can be reduced by subtracting a portion of medical expenses incurred during the year.  After subtracting medical expenses from the income, if a single veteran’s income is below $985.00 a month or a married veteran’s household income is below $1291.00 a month, they could be eligible for pension (2011 figures).

The numbers for a married couple would include both incomes and both medical expenses.

Additional benefits are payable to veterans who are permanently Housebound or are in need of Aid and Attendance of another person to perform the daily activities of living. If a wartime veteran needs help in daily living functions (such as bathing, feeding, dressing etc), is blind or bedridden, they may be eligible for a higher amount of pension.  A veteran in a nursing home or in some cases assisted living; they may also be eligible for the higher rates.

If you have any questions contact your County Veterans Service Officer located usually at the courthouse, or other VA representative.