We are embarking on the close of celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War. To many the war fought from June 1950 to July 1953 is considered as the "Forgotten War." It came to be known this way because it happened on the heels of WWII. The best tribute we can give this group of veterans is for us to pause and show how our appreciation for those who served.
The 1950s represented different things to different people. On one hand we had the Eisenhower era that was "squeaky clean." We had the rise of the television coming into the homes of Americans across the land, we had Elvis Presley, poodle skirts, and yes we were still battling segregation and racism right here in our own backyard.
The Korean War was the result of the political division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War at the end of World War II. Statistics show that approximately 1.7 million Americans fought in Korea. It's estimated that approximately 34,000 Americans died in battle. Almost an additional 20,000 Americans died due to the War. It is also believed that there are 8,000 Americans considered missing (or unaccountable) from the Korean War.
The Korean War is a stark reminder that when we send our United States troops into battle they need to know they deserve the support of all American citizens even today. Currently, we have 2.5 million military men and women who served in Afghanistan and Iraqi, and continue to risk their lives as they return home today. We must welcome them home with dignity and honor, as we must continue to honor those who served before them. It is in this spirit we continue to rise as a nation, fight for what we believe in, and protect our homeland. There's no greater calling than one who lays down his life for others.
California is one of the five states with the most Korean War Veterans (431,000). For us here at New Directions for Veterans (NDVets) we've not forgotten. We won't let any of our veterans be forgotten warriors. We must make sure that current and future generations understand the sacrifices these heroes made on foreign soil.
The Korean War is also very personal for me. My dad Mr. Joseph Robert Scott served in the Army during the Korean War. Although he passed away in 2007 from cancer I continue to be reminded of his life on a daily basis as I serve as President & CEO for NDVets. His service and life has become the reason for my commitment to the veteran cause. Growing up in the inner city of New Jersey our community didn't understand the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and other invisible wounds from war. My dad often talked about suicide, and depression as he battled with the disease of alcoholism for over 30 days. Although he was sober the last 25 years of his life his internal battles as a result of his war time in the Army continued to be prevalent. Unfortunately, our family didn't understand his wounds, therefore, he often suffered in silence.
Today, we, as a society are more conscious of the invisible war many of our veterans suffer from, and are able to provide the necessary mental health and substance abuse support to help them through a very dark time. As you can see, acknowledging this war on its 60th Anniversary is important. It's important for us a society to continue to support and serve those who served us. Their lives are an inspiration to millions of people who have the opportunity to experience freedom 60 years later.
There are other heroes just like my dad who served in this war as well. Locally, right here in New Directions for Veterans backyard in Brentwood, Calif., we have one of our own Mr. Donald Keller, Veteran, USAF, Korean War that although he isn't able to raise his arms to paint, he donated money to help with the "painting party" we recently had as a group of volunteers headed by Councilman Mike Bonin painted two of our conference rooms for our veterans. Mr. Keller doesn't allow excuses to hold him back from participating and keeping the flame lit for others to learn and know. He was also awarded the "Certificate of Appreciation" issued by the Department of Defense for his service during the Korean War.
All of us at New Directions for Veterans are determined to care for and about all veterans; we refuse to let you be forgotten!