In August 2004 I traveled to Vietnam with a group to receive medical treatment at the National Institute of Acupuncture in Hanoi. We heard it was the best in the world and we were not disappointed. Their skills and traditions date back centuries to the era of Lan Ong who not only possessed vast medical knowledge but was a humanitarian who believed the practice of medicine should not be limited to only those who can afford it, This tradition explains how, in spite of our war here, anti-American sentiment does not exist in Vietnam.
Americans have sadly laid down 58,000 lives on Vietnamese soil and over 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians and military lost their lives during the war. Before we made the trip many people uninformed people, advised us that upon entering any Vietnamese place of business Americans should not make eye contact with the locals because they 'could take it as an opportunity to 'get even' with the Americans. This warning couldn't be further from the truth. In fact considering what happened during the war, it is truly remarkable that Americans are not hated or even disliked. The hospitality of the Vietnamese people has shown us is unsurpassed in all of my travels.
The worst part of my trip, in fact, happened because of the US government. In the Los Angeles airport after having my luggage inspected my acupuncture needles and address book disappeared. I also had a tip that before leaving Vietnam, the VA bureaucrats had contacted Vietnamese officials because, "there are two American veterans in this group that you could do is a favor and lose" one of them being myself.
When we got to Hanoi we leaned that the third generation of Vietnamese Herbicidal Poison victims had tiled legal briefs in New York against
Agent Orange and other dioxin chemical manufacturers, seeking medical relief and compensation for their condition. The claim was filed because the Vietnamese government is not capable of taking care of the special needs of these victims and because the United Slates contributed to the problem.
While in Vietnam we met Vietnam veterans Sewell Jones and John Berlow, Directors of Southeastern Asian Organics Project, an organization that teaches young Vietnamese to grown their own organic foods - free of chemicals like
Agent Orange. We also visited Friendship Village,' Vietnam Project to cultivate reconciliation and heal the wounds of the Vietnam War by uniting veterans and caring citizens through international cooperation in the building and support of the Village of Friendship, a living symbol of peace.
During my trip, I was told by the Professors and Doctors who treated my leg that the impairment was likely due to a back injury I had several back injuries while in the military and I attribute this to be the cause.
For the tragedy of the Vietnamese victims of herbicide and the bureaucracies that prevent any resolution - I prayed to shrines and the great Buddha throughout my visit that "e cart grow and make changes to assist the humanitarian efforts to all people of the world.
The Eclipse Magazine publishes reunion notices for veterans. Notices should be sent at least 6 months prior to the event to ensure timely publication. Listings are free of charge. Publication is based on availability and is not guaranteed. Reunion notices should include the branch of service, complete name of the group, reunion date(s), location, contact name including telephone number and email.
Send notices to: Eclipse Magazine, P0 Box 11432, Milwaukee Wisconsin, 53211
or Email to: email@example.com
Written by Arthur N. Bernklau
Veterans For Constitutional Law, Ltd
112 Jefferson Avenue Port Jefferson, L.I. NY 11777