While visiting family members who are in the WWII generation this memorial day, one remark keeps appearing in different places and among different communities, “Nobody cares about WWII vets anymore.” It isn’t as if veterans are competing for attention, but when there have been so many wars the size of populations that fought in them might dictate priorities in themes and attention. There are lifecycles to veterans, and as one generation of freedom fighters declines, another steps up. Shorter and smaller wars producer shorter and smaller numbers of vets from them.
The number of WWII veterans attending memorial services has been declining each year, and it is shocking this year to witness the absence of so many persons who once stood proudly to salute the flag and honor veterans. This year may be one of the last when we have a chance to visit and to say a fond farewell.
As for the Vietnam Veterans from my era, one high school classmate is fighting stage IV cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Others are contending with different wounds and ailments resulting from their military service in Vietnam. Most have recovered from that experience and have become some of the most productive contributors to their communities.
Gulf War Veterans are now on the bubble.
See the slide show of current statistics from the VA and government.