‘Both times we came back, we were spit on’: Vietnam vet recounts coming home, managing PTSD, and helping homeless veterans

Morning After

Ken Watterson grew up in Colleyville and joined the Marines in 1965. During his time in the Marines, he did tours of duty in Vietnam in 1965 and 1967. He was discharged in 1969, but as with many veterans, the struggles didn’t stop when his service ended.

“Both times we came back, we were spit on,” says Watterson, “especially in ’68. It was horrible coming to the airport. You know, you wear the uniform of your country and you have to take it off to catch an airplane.”

In addition to often meeting hostility when coming home, there was also PTSD – which wasn’t something widely understood or addressed in that era.

Watterson says “I don’t care who it is, you have some sort of PTSD. Some are a little bit more severe than others. There’s no cure for PTSD, you need to learn how to manage it.”

During his life after Vietnam, Watterson has been involved in several organizations dedicated to helping veterans struggling with life after combat. He’s currently the President of Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas and is also a board member of the Valor Administration, an organization that helps Vietnam veterans heal by returning to the country and meeting their former enemy.

For more information, visit veteransresourcecenter.org and valorveterans.org.

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