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As I leave for Vietnam (50 years ago)

50 years ago — September 6, 1971

The U.S. is preparing to end the 20-year war in Afghanistan. And 50 years ago, the U.S. was preparing to end another protracted war — in Vietnam. An army officer turned chaplain had completed his duty at an Army hospital in the states. He shared his thoughts on the eve of his first tour of duty in Vietnam. “I live in a semi-state of despair because the war continues to cause tragedy in the lives of the American and Vietnamese peoples.” At the hospital he ministered to the soldiers returning from Vietnam. “One very serious problem was drug abuse. … This war has not been the sole cause for these men’s taking drugs, but I am convinced that it has contributed greatly to increased drug abuse by many. … I am appalled at the number of [soldiers] who will never recover emotionally from their experience in Vietnam. One problem which receives little publicity is the vast number of marriage problems that exist as a result of the emotional strain and the prolonged family separation. … I have hope because I still believe that God through Jesus Christ can change the lives of all who believe in his love and grace.”

From “As I Ieave for Vietnam,” by Chaplain Banks Hudson