My Vietnam Your Iraq


Updated Fri, Apr 25, 2014 5:16 pm

Sunday, May 18 • 11 p.m.

"I could never have imagined my father's struggles during my tour until I experienced it with my own son." These were the words a Vietnam War veteran told me during an interview. “He should be burying me," another Vietnam War vet expressed after learning his son had been killed in Baghdad in 2004.

The Vietnam War polarized the United States in the 1960s; decades later, U.S. involvement in Iraq initiated its own discord. But “My Vietnam Your Iraq” connects these two wars with less attention paid to divisive politics, choosing instead to focus on the personal stories of eight Vietnam veterans whose own children have served in Iraq.

The stories examine the pride, fear and myriad of emotions and challenges that parents and their children face during deployment, each with their own perspective and expectation. Though the stories are unique to the individual families, these intimate profiles resonate with all of us: the stories of the men and women who fought and fight for themselves, their families and their country.

“My Vietnam Your Iraq” focuses on the human side of the military and looks at the lineage within military families. The stories describe how common themes resonate as older servicemen and woman reflect on their own service and the thoughts they have about their children's service. Vietnam veteran participants may agree or disagree with current policy; yet they all support their child's decision to enlist. Some interviewees discuss the myriad of emotions they have gone through while separated from their family. While it would be unfair to say that these emotions are limited to parents who have served in the military, it is reasonable to assume that those who have similar military experiences may have a stronger bond or understanding of the military experience.

Many stories about Vietnam veterans discuss important topics such as how they were treated when they returned home, the anti-war movement, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and homelessness. Accounts about today's soldiers are usually grounded in an argument about whether we should be fighting in the Middle East or how we show our support for the troops. The goal of “My Vietnam Your Iraq” is to stimulate discussion that may help us better understand the emotions and anxieties families are forced to deal with.