Vietnam War pins signify more than you’d know

 Roy Dennington remembers, almost shyly, his first reaction to receiving his Vietnam pin.

 “They actually called it a war?"

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Dennington says the Vietnam War commemorative pins have many significances, but the one that hit home for him was the simple type on the face of the pin — “Vietnam War Veteran.”

“The pins recognize that it was a war,” he says. “A horrendous war, but by calling it a war — and by giving it a name — we can, to some extent, look at it like we look at an event, something that was then, something that is now in the past. An event that has ended.” 

Dennington received his pin more than a year ago and is working with others to organize another pinning ceremony for Vietnam veterans and Vietnam-era veterans so that they, too, can mark the Vietnam War as an event, an event that has ended.

Pinning Ceremony March 15

The pinning ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, March 15, after the Yoga Warriors class that Dennington credits with giving him a renewed resilience in his post-war and post trauma life. The pinning will begin about 12:30 p.m. at Central Mass Yoga and Wellness, 45 Sterling Street, No. 28, West Boylston, Mass (top floor of Causeway Mall — intersection of Mass. Rtes. 110 and 12).  Belinda Morrone, a retired Air Force colonel and nurse who supported U.S. military air evacuations from the Gulf wars through the ongoing post-911 Mideast conflicts, will present the Vietnam War Veteran pins.

The pins are made available through The Brookfield Institute, a Commemorative Partner with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Care for the Troops, a program of The Brookfield Institute, helps veterans of all eras transition to civilian life and handle the stress and trauma of conflict with resilience and grace.

 Roy Dennington

Roy Dennington

 

“Vietnam vets were not recognized or honored for nearly a half-century,” says Dennington. "Perhaps because of that, a whole lot of people, hundreds of thousands of veterans, had in many ways been hiding out all those years. In the process, a lot of them were lost — 58,000 Vietnam combatants were lost during the war itself — and at least twice that many died of neglect after the war — through homelessness, alcoholism, Agent Orange pathologies, through suicide. Many thousands continue to be lost through progressive and chronic Agent Orange diseases and depression. And despite all this, those 10 years were not even dignified by being called a war. To my knowledge, these pins may be the first time that DoD has publicly (though still quietly) called it a war."

Yoga Warriors was so instrumental in Dennington’s and his comrades’ healing that they presented a Vietnam War pin to Lucy Cimini, founder of Yoga Warriors and one of their three certified Yoga Warriors teachers in West Boylston. A number of the YWI vets will receive pins at the March 15th ceremony. "When we get together for yoga, for lunch afterward at community restaurants, or in commemorative events, it helps us move on from our past and to help other vets and responders come to grips with their past. It’s also significant that it happens in this place by the Reservoir, in the community, and as a direct long-term result of work that’s gone on and continues to go on in the VA’s community based Vet Centers. The yoga that Cimini pioneered is specific to helping vets and responders heal through post traumatic stress resilience, finding comfortable and balanced postures for all the times in between.   

There are three components of the Vietnam war that veterans still deal with, Dennington says. “There’s the physical and physiological stress from wounds they suffered and their exposures to Agent Orange diseases. There’s the psychological stress from PTSD and there’s the moral injury that remains from the war.  Only in the past few years has the moral injury component been seen as deep and persistent. These pins and this ceremony — and especially the thanks — go a long way to helping with all three."

“The ceremony is an opportunity to come out in the sunshine,” Dennington says. “It’s better to come out to what is there than to stay hidden away.”

For more information on the ceremony, or to suggest a veteran for the honor, email Roy Dennington or call him (978) 598-8011, or email Lucy Cimini or call her (508) 835-1176. Download a flyer to share.