Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Ceremony Commemorating the Initiation of the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program

November 10, 1981

On this eve of Veterans Day in 1981, we meet to inaugurate a program that's aimed at helping a group of veterans who have never received the thanks they deserved for their extraordinary courage and dedication. A long, dragged-out tragedy, Vietnam, divided our nation and damaged America's self-image. And part of that tragedy, a major part, was the sacrifice by men who fought as bravely as any American fighting men have ever fought. Millions of young Americans, when they were called upon, did their duty and demonstrated courage and dedication in the finest tradition of the American military in a war they were not allowed to win.

I want to express appreciation, on behalf of all Americans, to these veterans who are here today, not only for their service during the war but for their continued voluntary service to their comrades in arms and to the nation. Contrary to an unjust stereotype, the vast majority of Vietnam veterans readjusted quickly after returning from Southeast Asia. And many of these fine young people here have succeeded and excelled in their post-war endeavors. Those here with us today are outstanding examples of this fact.

At the same time, however, there are those who found it difficult to come to grips with problems that can be traced to their wartime experiences. The Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program is designed to draw volunteers from the pool of successful Vietnam veterans in order to provide guidance for those with lingering problems. This volunteer, self-help program is within the spirit of camaraderie that has characterized American veterans of every war, and it's even more important for those who've fought in Vietnam.

Those of you who will be doing your part to make this program a success deserve a special thanks. I hope that every American will follow your example and reach out individually to extend a helping hand, where needed, to all our fine Vietnam veterans. Recognition and appreciation for all they went through is long overdue.

We should always remember that in a hostile world, a nation's future is only as certain as the devotion of its defenders, and the nation must be as loyal to them as they are to the nation.

This program is one way of expressing our commitment not only to Vietnam veterans but to all those who now serve our country in the military. So, thanks to all of you for participating in this fine effort. I think you're going to find your fellow citizens will want to help.

Now, Tom Pauken.

Note: The President spoke at 11:48 a.m. at the ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House.

The program is a new Federal initiative, begun at the beginning of this fiscal year and administered by ACTION. The remarks of Thomas W Pauken, Director of ACTION, were not included in the White House press release.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Ceremony Commemorating the Initiation of the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives