Chris in New York asks: First of all, great job! Are you guys considering a follow-up concerning the Chicano attitude toward the Gulf War(s)? Interesting in that all of your interviewees were gung-ho initially for Vietnam, but came back a fractured group. How has the mood changed?
Sonya Rhee: Thanks Chris. Charley and I haven't talked extensively about a follow-up on that topic specifically but we have heard from many soldiers and their family members who are concerned about the current situation in Iraq. We've heard from folks all over the country, from Los Angeles to Peoria to New York, and they are making many comparisons to Vietnam. Especially as our presence there is extended and as violence escalates, many of the soldiers and their family members are questioning the reasons why we are there at all. Although I think the mood has changed considerably in light of September 11th, the emotions and difficulty in fighting any war has not. So I am very concerned about how these soldiers will cope once they come home.
As for the previous Gulf Wars, I believe those soldiers are still coping with what happened (PTSD) and like our Soldados, will never fully heal. Canada has a program for soldiers to "decompress" before they return to their regular lives and I hope that we will adopt a similar program for our soldiers. And examining how that program works would make for a very compelling documentary!
Charley Trujillo: That is a good idea but I don't think we are doing anything in that area for the moment.
Three of us soldados are no longer gung-ho about Vietnam, but the 4th is still very gung-ho. I don't think any of of us "non-gung-ho" guys would want to see our sons or relatives in a war.
Elias in Colorado asks: Do you have your own Chicano VFW chapter? I don't feel accepted even today.
Charley Trujillo: No, I don't have my own VFW chapter. I find the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the VFW too conservative for me. I also don't feel accepted either — but I don't really care.