Badger & Bull: Vietnam Veteran Bikers Report to Wyoming
In case you didn't know, K2Radio News has a podcast called Report to Wyoming where we talk to people in our community about their thoughts and ideas. For this week's episode, Badger and Bull sit down and talk about mental health, chili, and Harleys...among other things.
SPOILER ALERT!! ...Don't Read this until you listen to the podcast.
Bull is the regional president of 14 years in the Legacy Veteran biker club, a nonprofit that gives out scholarships and so much more.
He shared that their club is always there for veterans going through dark times.
"We don't recruit, but we look for lost souls that need a place to go. We're all veterans, and veterans all have a camaraderie that we all know and have same feelings about some of the things we've went through in our lives. In other words, I'll tell him some stuff [looking at Badger] and he'll tell me, but we won't tell you. It's just the way veterans are" said Bull.
Badger is more reserved by nature. He jokes that Bull is the articulate one. He mentioned that for some Vietnam veterans it's hard to trust people. "If you aren't military, I usually don't have anything to do with anyone. And I usually don't talk to news people."
K2Radio News is lucky. But above all honored.
Both he and Badger share the same mixed emotions about returning home from war.
"When we came home from Vietnam we were--especially, well, my case--I was told not to put my military clothes on, put my civvies on cause when you come in to California from where we landed from Vietnam people would be harassing us, spitting on us. We were baby killers, we were all of the above. We didn't want to be there. Whereas most guys that went to Vietnam were there because that's where the government said we were going to war" Bull said.
They shared their feelings on being forced to go to war, despite that "It was a war that we were probably never designed to win, otherwise we would've won."
"Even if you didn't believe in war you were going to go whether you liked it or not...go to jail or go to Vietnam" Bull said.
Before signing up, he was 19 years old "playing rock n' roll music" and had a lot of friends. He said he was just a farm boy from South Dakota.
"It was fight or die. That's war" said Badger.
"Everything you see on TV is probably twice as bad in reality. You didn't hear everything that went on."
Badger said he signed up because he felt it was his obligation to protect his family, country and freedom. He was raised in a military family. "After a while of being over there I said, 'no this is different.' freedom for our country had nothing to do with it. it was all big business and keeping me and my fellow soldiers alive."
He knows he always has someone to talk to that understands with the biker club.
"58,000 died in Vietnam but 300,00 came home all screwed up" said Badger.
While the majority of Vietnam Veterans successfully readjusted, many Vietnam-era Veterans experienced post-war challenges and ongoing medical, psychological, and spiritual distress.
According to Hospice's We Honor Veterans Study:
- Although Vietnam veterans may receive the same serious and life-threatening diagnoses as non-veteran older adults, the Vietnam Veteran’s illness experience is even more difficult when post-traumatic stress and war-related moral injury are present.
- The suicide rate for older veterans is higher than that of non-veterans, and the rate among older veterans further increases with age.
- The majority of seriously ill Vietnam veterans receive medical care outside the VA health care system and 97% of veteran deaths occur outside VA facilities.