RENO — The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee issued a broad apology to Vietnam veterans Wednesday, saying the nation failed them by confusing the unpopular war with the warriors who fought it.
In a speech to the 89th national convention of the American Legion, Rep. Bob Filner also proposed the creation of “de-boot camps” to help soldiers returning from Iraq make the transition to normal life in the face of rising suicide rates and post-battle disorders.
The California Democrat asked how many of the delegates at the convention in Reno were Vietnam veterans, and the vast majority of the crowd of about 5,000 raised their hands.
“I have to say to all of you, on behalf of this country, I guess, we let you down. We didn’t give you the honor and respect that you deserved and earned,” Filner said.
“Many people in this country confused the war and the warrior. If you didn’t like the war, you said, ‘To hell with the warrior.’
“That was a mistake, a tragic mistake, and we owe you an apology.”