United States Department of Veterans Affairs

The VA Showed Me Love

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“The VA showed me love”

Drafted at the tender age of 18, Army Veteran, Gordon Wallace, left his native home in Hawaii in 1970 to serve his country in Vietnam. As one of 16 children, Wallace left school after the seventh grade to work in the family business. Education wasn’t important for the boys. “The boys had to work to help feed the family,” said Wallace.

Uncle Sam gave him a job as a combat engineer. As a heavy equipment operator, Wallace built bridges, cleared roads, lead conveys with food, ammunition and whatever was needed to take care of the troops. Looking out in the distance, Wallace remembers the daily ambushes.

“I never felt love, even in my large family. The VA showed me love. They pulled me out of my shell. When I came back home, I really didn’t come home. A big part of me stayed in Vietnam. I had trouble sleeping, was depressed and had trouble readjusting to life as I knew it.”

Wallace’s counselor encouraged him to participate in the Games as another way to interact with Veterans who have shared similar experiences. “The camaraderie with other Vietnam Veterans has been a beautiful thing. We’ve shared our stories, the scary times, and we’ve helped each other just in the short time we’ve been here. I can finally smile again. What a joy to have come home,” said Wallace.

“I want to encourage everyone to enjoy our beautiful Honolulu