As part of The Valley Reporter’s annual honoring of local veterans and their service, several local folks were interviewed one on one for more details about their experiences.

The four people who agreed to be interviewed this year had experiences as diverse as they possibly could be.

One served on a four-man boat patrolling the rivers in Vietnam. One decoded Cold War messages in Europe. One engineered flights in and out of Vietnam and one gathered intelligence on Soviet military and sent airdrops of food into Berlin.

While their experiences were vastly different, what they learned from their experiences was similar.

Consider these words from these vets speaking on armed conflict, PTSD, Korea and the draft:

“There ought to be better ways to solve problems.”

“But what helps the most is to try and put it out of your mind.”

 “We need more negotiation. We sure don’t need more arm conflict; that’s for sure.”

“As an old man, now I feel that there should be compulsory military service for everybody, the way the Swiss do. Once there’s a draft, the mothers and fathers start paying attention, and when there’s no draft, they don’t.”

These are the words of people who have served, who don’t take war and its consequences lightly, who understand that taking up arms has to be the last result and who understand that when we do send our armed forces into battle, we need to be prepared to support them when they come out and help them work through the trauma of war.

It’s true, sadly, that parents don’t pay attention to whose kids are being sent to war with an all-volunteer military. Compulsory military service gives all of us skin in the game when it comes to being sent to war.

We only interviewed four of the many, many local people who have served. Imagine the shared and collective wisdom we’d have had we interviewed them all!

Thank you to all who have served and who continue to serve. We owe you our respect and our support.