Updated 3/2021


All military veterans bear a debt of gratitude to the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen that came before them. History teaches hard lessons and the lessons of combat are the hardest and every generation bears a debt of gratitude to the military personnel that served before their time.


As a post 9/11 Military Veteran and an Iraq war veteran, I personally owe an incredibly strong debt of gratitude to the Vietnam veterans that came before me. Vietnam veterans personify the spirit of service, sacrifice, and valor that most of us strive and even hope to obtain for a brief time during our period of service.  In my opinion, all post 9/11 military veterans owe their thanks to all Vietnam veterans. Here are seven reasons to be grateful for Vietnam Veterans:


  1. Vietnam Veterans showed us how to persevere In a conflict. The Vietnam War was an event that sharply divided the country along political, societal, and economic lines. The US military carried on in the conduct of the war in Vietnam despite the divisions across US society. This incredible perseverance, dedication to duty, and professionalism is a shining example of dedication to duty from the Vietnam generation of military veterans for America.

  2. Vietnam Veterans demonstrated true combat leadership. Vietnam displayed an incredible range of combat operations. Special Operations, ground operations, fixed and rotary wing, intelligence operations, supporting fires, electronic warfare, logistical support, and other ongoing support operations took place on a daily basis all across Vietnam. Vietnam Veterans displayed courage under fire, an unmatched sense of devotion to their comrades, and a desire to minimize the war on the Vietnamese population.  

  3. Vietnam Veterans saved our lives. Vietnam perfected the use of aerial medical evacuation, close in combat surgery, forward staged full service hospitals, and the use of body armor by ground personnel. The thousands of post 9/11 military veterans that were wounded, survived, recovered, or were hit and uninjured owe unwavering gratitude to Vietnam veterans that started and began the long journey to perfect medical evacuation and effective body armor.

  4. Vietnam Veterans led their teams in an era of societal strife. During the Vietnam War, the United States was torn by political, societal, and economic strife that divided the country, citizens, and families. Despite this strife and through the conflict in America, Vietnam Veterans led their teams in training and combat.

  5. Vietnam Veterans set the standard for realistic combat training. The incredibly high levels of training that Post 9/11 Veterans received prior to their deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and across the globe came from the hard lessons learned that Vietnam Veterans experienced first-hand on the vital importance of difficult, challenging, and realistic combat training. The training that propelled Post 9/11 Military Veterans to succeed came from the blood and sweat of Vietnam Veterans.

  6. Vietnam Veterans rebuilt the military. The tanks, armored personnel carriers, radios, medical equipment, personal weapons, artillery, and other equipment that dot the globe during today’s military operations all came from the minds and sketches of Vietnam Veterans. Too often, the Night Vision Devices, laser aiming devices, high capacity magazines, and sights that populate today’s service rifles are taken for granted. Vietnam Veterans helped give us those, too.

  7. Vietnam Veterans showed us how to reenter society. Finally, Vietnam Veterans never stopped giving to the country and society when they left military service. Vietnam Veterans served as educators, politicians, inventors, business people, government officials, serving military members, and family members. This devotion to military service and then do incredible post-military service is a strong reminder to the Post 9/11 military veterans that there is still much to do. 

USAA-Member-Community-Debt-of Gratitude-to-Vietnam-Veterans.jpg

This Veteran’s Day seek out as many Vietnam Veterans as you can find, and deeply thank them for their service. The service, dedication, and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans shaped America for the better and we owe them an ongoing sense of gratitude.    



Other Articles of Interest:


  1. The Memory of 9/11 & How I Re-Learned To Appreciate America
  2. Business Lessons from the D-Day Invasion
  3. Business Lessons from the Defense of Little Round Top




Author Biography: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 230 articles in over 145 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and www.CombatToCorporate.com. 



New Member

Every Veteran I come into contact with which is a lot because I go to the VA in Oklahoma City for all of my appointments I will thank them for their service. That alone is how I show my gratitude for those who served before me and after me. At times I feel unworthy because I served during peace time I did not have to go to war. But I am very grateful for the time I did serve in the Navy. Now my goal is to get my degree and work with either active duty and their families or veterans and I will make sure I show my gratitude always when it comes to veterans and the military.

Chad Storlie USAA

Dear @Soonergirl55,

Thank you for your dedication to assist veterans in their treatment and their post military success.   It is special when people thank veterans for their service. However, it is extraordinary when someone decides to dedicate their career to help veterans. Finally, thank you for being a veteran. There is no combat vs non combat classes of veterans. ALL veterans are great. You are too! 

New Member

Love this...our Vietnam Vets don't get enough props--this really hit the spot.  Ran into a Korean-era Army Vet last night at my VAMC who wanted me to know that the movie Heartbreak Ridge is NOTHING like the real deal...don't forget about them as well!  :)  Amazing article...thank you!

John JW

Speaking as a Marine Vietnam combat Vet, with two tours in an aweful war, I pay respect where respect is due. USAA has always had our backs and for that, I pay respect to this organization and express my gratitude. Unfortunately too few other organizations deserve such respect, even today. It is sad that our government (and thus the VA) often pays us lip-serve support only, probably to garner votes, leading our population astray by telling untruths. 

A great many of us are forced to wait endlessly for help and compensation that we deserve and in many cases (if not most) is authorized and justified by the VA themselves. 

PTSD was not even recognized until after the Vietnam War, and thousands had their entire post-service lives destroyed, by this insidious disease. We are unable to eradicate the horrors from our memories and are still haunted by nightmares after more than 50 years. The suicide rate among Vietnam Vets is the highest of all populations groups and those that don’t take their own lives continue to suffer. War is a terrible thing; an utter failure of the human race, and to make matters worse, our nation too many times takes the attitude of “use-em-and-lose-em.”

That’s enough, but these thoughts ought to guide us all in doing everything humanly possible to clean up this catastrophe. 

Chad Storlie USAA


Thanks for the response and for the idea for a new article - I love those.  Thanks for the VAMC visit, the best way to remember veterans is to talk to them, listen, and appreciate their stories.  Thanks for sharing on USAA Community!



Chad Storlie USAA

@John JW 

I really appreciate these heartfelt thoughts and emotions.  It is so easy to think of Vietnam Veterans as pieces of history and not to remember their sacrifices and struggles as the human beings they are.   Thanks for sharing on USAA Community!



Occasional Visitor

My father, Sgt. Thomas C. Shepherd Sr. Was KIA during his 2nd voluntary tour in Vietnam on 24 MAR 71. He was awarded many medals including the Silver Star, Bronze Star with “V”, and several Purple Hearts before his death. He returned to Vietnam because he felt an obligation and duty to his fellow soldiers - he hoped his combat experience and knowledge would help keep some soldiers alive. 
He was a career Army man and was a Drill Sargent prior to volunteering for combat. At least this is what I’ve been told. He died when I was only 5 and my memories of him are a cherished few.
Thank you for this article. It makes me feel that his death was not in vain because people such as yourself still remember the honor, valor and dignity of those who served in that “bleeping” war. 

Dan, Proud son of a Vietnam Vet

(Our PC text administrator did not allow me to use D A M N. Glad our 1st Ammendment is still partially intact )

Occasional Visitor

@JohnJw thank you for your service and all the hardships you’ve endured for this nation. 
- Dan, Proud Son of a Vietnam Vet

(Sorry I couldn’t figure out how to link your name to the post)


Thank you.


Thank you to all who serve and have served our country in the military.  It is an unselfish and extremely generous giving of your hearts, minds, and abilities.  There are no words to adequately thank you.