‘In Memory’ of the Vietnam Veterans Who Died After The War
After The Wall was dedicated in Washington, D.C. in 1982, physical and emotional wounds continued to plague a generation of heroes. For many Vietnam veterans, the horrors of war manifested itself into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others suffered from Agent Orange-related illnesses including: Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and cancer. Too many have lost their lives.
The sacrifices of Vietnam extend past the more than 58,000 service men and women who lost their lives during the war.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) wants to ensure that these veterans are never forgotten. honors Vietnam veterans whose lives were cut short as a result of their service in Vietnam, but are not eligible for inscription on The Wall under Department of Defense guidelines. In Memory is a way that all Vietnam veterans can be honored on the National Mall.
“As many military families from the Vietnam War know, those who returned came home to many different challenges,” said Wall Volunteer Cyndy Hollender-Stancliff.
Cyndy’s first husband, John Hollender, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1967 through 1968. And like so many others, John wasn’t the same when he returned. He passed away in 1994 as a result of his PTSD.
“For families who lost their veteran to service-connected issues such as: PTSD, cancer, ischemic heart disease and other Agent Orange-related medical issues, there was no healing. There was no honor for the veteran, just the loss of our loved one,” Cyndy adds.
Every year in June, VVMF hosts the In Memory Day Ceremony. Loved ones come together to recognize the veterans they lost and meet other family members who shared similar experiences. Attendees are given a tribute of their veteran and have the opportunity to read their loved one’s name on the National Mall in a moving ceremony attended by thousands.
Cyndy honored her husband through the In Memory program in 2000. “It became much more than just honoring him, it became a healing process for me,” she said. “It allowed me to put closure on a difficult time in my life and move forward.”
When many Vietnam veterans returned home, an ungrateful nation awaited them. There were no parades, grand gestures of thanks, and little fanfare. Families and friends see In Memory Day as recognition for those who died from Agent Orange exposure and PTSD.
This year’s In Memory Day ceremony will be held on June 17 on the East Knoll of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The deadline for loved ones to apply to honor a Vietnam veteran for the ceremony has been extended to April 14.
A plaque that honors these veterans was dedicated as a part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 2004. It reads: In Memory of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. We honor and remember their sacrifice.
It is never too late to honor those who served, especially those who suffered long after the war’s ending.