I am delighted to share my story of love and loss during the Vietnam War era. Perhaps our marital relationship would have been quite different had the military draft not been a reality in our young adult experience. We’ll never know. Yet, on behalf of the 58,220 young men and women who lost their lives in combat and for other causes on foreign soil (per the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC), I felt compelled to share my personal war for peace at home in South Carolina.
As a pregnant spouse waiting for my husband to return from Vietnam, my desperate cries to God on his behalf and the other troops who had been deployed to a war zone intensified my prayer life. Out of the many young brides who lost their husbands and children who lost their fathers, God allowed me to see my husband return from Saigon, and our daughter to get to know her father. I did not say that he returned safely. But my gratitude for answered prayers outweighed the pain experienced in the tumultuous relationship that followed agonizing months of watching, waiting, praying and hoping for God’s favorable response.
Much has been said about Amerasians (children born to Vietnamese women and United States servicemen), so I share my story about how the war impacted American wives and children, including the unborn child, of troops deployed to Vietnam. With so many of our young men killed, maimed, or missing in action, I realized how population control is achieved through war by killing the males, separating spouses, and creating conflict between men and women. Spouses of returning war veterans have a story that is quite different from that of war widows and war babies. America has a class of overlooked war brides who are not Asian.
While writing Bliss and Blisters in Love & Marriage, I thought of the many young women who married during the Vietnam era (1965-1975) and later experienced trauma in their marriage to war veterans. They either divorced or remained in a marriage often described as “a living hell.” In my story, Vincent Henderson returned from Vietnam with PTSD and I had no idea what had happened to the man I married. Due to the shortage of eligible men in a desired age group, some war brides never remarried. Consequently, children born during the same period often grew up without their biological father or a male role model in the home.
I pray that my story will inspire you to show compassion for our military families at home and abroad during times of peace and war. The surviving family members of the estimated 22 veterans who commit suicide each day need our condolences and prayers. May God bless them, you and your family, and may God bless America.
Gloria Shell Mitchell