During his inaugural address in 1961, President John F. Kennedy affirmed that the United States stood ready to pay any price and to bear any burden to preserve freedom and liberty. Vietnam War Veterans surely shouldered that burden. More than 58,000 of them paid the ultimate price and another 153,000 were wounded over the course of the conflict.

Today, on National Vietnam War Veterans Day, VBA joins the rest of the nation in honoring the service and sacrifice of all Veterans who served in the Armed Forces from 1955 to 1975.

On March 29, 1973, the last U.S. combat troops departed South Vietnam. Hanoi also released at this time the last contingent of the more than 600 Americans taken prisoner during the war.

The Vietnam War by the numbers

The Vietnam War was a joint effort, with the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard all playing significant roles throughout. Overall, more than 8.7 million military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam era from 1964 to 1975. This number includes an estimated 11,000 women, 340,000 African Americans, 42,000 Native Americans, and 35,000 Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders.

While the war officially ended over 45 years ago, 1,585 service members remain unaccounted for as a result of the conflict. For families and friends left behind, the fate of the missing in action continues to be one of the most painful legacies of the Vietnam War. Although gone, they are not forgotten: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency now spearheads the government’s effort to recover and repatriate the remains of service members who went missing in Vietnam and other U.S. wars.

Honoring our Veterans

VA has been attending to the needs of Vietnam Veterans since the earliest days of the conflict. In 1966, Congress passed the Veterans’ Readjustment Benefits Act, a GI Bill for Veterans of the Vietnam era. This law provided Veterans with educational stipends to attend colleges or trade schools and the opportunity to secure low-interest home loans backed by VA.

Today, the estimated 6 million surviving men and women who served during the Vietnam era comprise the largest living cohort of Veterans and they have earned the profound gratitude of the nation. Through VA, Vietnam Veterans have access to a full array of benefits, including affordable life insurance, medical care, compensation for disabilities related to their time in service, and pensions.

Veterans who served on active duty from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, regardless of location, are also eligible to receive a commemorative lapel pin.

We encourage all Vietnam Veterans and eligible beneficiaries to learn about benefits or file a claim at VA.gov.


Shawn D. Graham is a public affairs specialist in VBA’s Office of Strategic Engagement; Jeffrey Seiken, Ph.D., is the VBA historian.

VA extends debt relief for Veterans
Bank statement with calculator and pen.More than 50,000 Veterans have switched benefit payments to direct deposit

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11 Comments

  1. Stephen E McCarthy April 2, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Last year when ceremonies were canceled you sent me a pin. Recently my grandson saw it in my den and asked “what’s this Grandpa?” When I told him he said “that’s cool”. This year a friend forwarded a VA email stating today is Vietnam Veterans Day. He said “what’s this? Who knew?”
    I was a door gunner on a Huey Gunship USMC. He was a crew Chief/gunner on a Huey slick. He was in the LZs over and over. He was wounded. He deserves this more than I do.

  2. Charles S Scott April 1, 2021 at 11:02 am

    I just wish I could get the service connected disability I deserve. I have my DD214 but that is not proof enough of my service as the DOD has no records of my service. I am thanked each month with the non-service connected disability check I get that forces me to live at the poverty level.

  3. Eugene Villarreal April 1, 2021 at 10:50 am

    There were Hispanics that served. The first POW was Mexican, Roy Benavides was ghb iven a Medal of Honor by Ronald Reagan. Just to name a few.

  4. jonathan vick March 31, 2021 at 10:53 pm

    mr. graham you should look up the def.of the word imperialist conflict. This country hasn’t sese WW2 have sought to gain U./S. land.

  5. Conrad Cool March 29, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    More than 8.7 million and an estimated 340,000 blacks. That is less than .04% which doesn’t seem right. There were a lot greater percentage of blacks in Long Binh Jail; also known as LBJ.

    • Roger Gulbransen April 1, 2021 at 8:10 am

      I think they missed a zero in that number. Blacks served at a higher percentage of their overall percentage of the total US population. 3,400,000 or 3.4 million seems more likely.

      • Eugene Villarreal April 1, 2021 at 10:31 am

        You’re right, there’s ZERO Hispanics that served.

    • william hashkowitz April 1, 2021 at 4:16 pm

      Besides the LBJ jail after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 his call for an increase in the number of draftees which effected the minority communities. It became known as the LBJ War.

  6. Ron Graham March 29, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    When will the perpetrators of US imperialist wars be held accountable? From Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon to Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, and Trump – all are complicit in war and war crimes. When will we learn?

  7. Harm Good March 29, 2021 at 11:56 am

    I guess that now since John McCain has passed we can now see what he covered up on POW’s so his Traitor Status as the songbird of Hanoi can finally be revealed?

    • Sidney Smith March 31, 2021 at 11:57 pm

      That should be all over the news. But alas, even Fox has been silent about it.

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