Contrasting Veteran Experiences Between Wars

Posted on 19. Nov, 2009 by in Beats, General, Jeremy Caplan, Urban

They call it the Forgotten War.  But Lou Crispiano has not forgotten.

He served in the army during the Korean War but feels his service was largely ignored by citizens at home.  Crispiano was a teen when his brother served in World War II and came home to block parties and celebrations like the ones in Times Square commemorated in this famous photo:

Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous photograph of the celebrations in Times Square at the end of World War II

Though he was too young to serve, a small banner with a blue star in his family’s front window reminded him of the importance of his brother’s service overseas.  The response from his return from service was underwhelming in comparison.

Listen below to Crispiano’s feelings about the contrast in community response between World War II and the Korean War.

[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/87/files/2009/11/LouAudio2_1-2.mp3]

Since World War II, Americans have become increasingly detached from the war effort abroad.  While at one time citizens were actively involved in the war effort, the military community now mainly relies on itself for support.

Crispiano knows how important it is to support the troops that continue to fight overseas.  That’s why he and the other members of VFW Post 1204 reach out to other veterans, including members of the group Wounded Warriors – a group that supports veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with severe injuries.

When Salvatore Cammallere came home from the Vietnam War, close family and the veteran community were his only support.  Instead of block parties and celebrations, he was ignored or worse.

Soon after he returned to Brooklyn in 1969, a small group of family and friends took him to a restaurant as a welcome home celebration.  As he walked through the restaurant in his fatigues, other patrons spat at him and called him a “baby killer”.

“People were very distant to us. They didn’t give a s— about us.  They turned their backs on us,” said Cammallere.

Though returning veterans were taught how to deal with adversity and given counseling on anger management, he still felt isolated and withdrawn.  It wasn’t until a Vietnam Veterans parade in 1985 that Cammallere became connected to other veterans and joined the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Cammallere is glad to see that today’s returning veterans have more support, despite the fact that the war is unpopular.  He has visited Fort Hamilton to get involved with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have expressed their thanks to him.

A Sergeant Major at the Fort recently expressed her gratitude to Cammallere, saying, “You gave us the support we needed to go on.”

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