Nick Berardino and his fire team colleagues standing outside a liberated village near Quang Tri province during the Ten Offensive in 1968

Today is Vietnam Veterans Day. For many, the Vietnam War is only a distant memory, but for Vietnam Veterans, the horror of war remains a daily part of life. The screams, fire, explosions and blood are deeply embedded in our memories.

But for many the challenges and wounds of war have been exacerbated by the treatment we received when we returned home. We were not recognized for our sacrifice but treated as criminals who should be ashamed. For most of us, the only way to be accepted by our peers and families was to go into hiding. The result has been an uninterrupted and continuous wave of suicide, mental illness, drug abuse, alcoholism, and endless depression.

Since our return, we learned that it was a political ping pong game using our lives as the ball that resulted in the deaths of our brothers and sisters and lifelong pain for the rest of us.

Today once again our fate regarding an Orange County Veterans Cemetery lies in the hands of the state legislature. And once again we are forced to wait and pray that the Sacramento politicians will finally provide us with a place to rest peacefully.  We also pray that if the political process once again destroys our final dream, the entire Orange County Community will rise up with all the vigor it can muster standing shoulder to shoulder to address those who would turn their backs on us for political gain instead of standing with the veteran community and their families. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Nick Berardino, President of VALOR ( Veterans Alliance of Orange County)

Opinions expressed in community opinion pieces belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please email

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.