SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – For volunteers like Dean Yeargin, places like the ‘Wall That Heals’ have turned into purpose.
“My place in life is to help those who struggle and if I can share my story and what I went through, it gives them hope they can get through theirs,” said Dean Yeargin, who served in Vietnam.
Having served in Vietnam, he’s familiar with the struggle of returning to civilian life. For some, he said, those experiences turned into scars.
“We often neglect the ones that carry on in day to day life and struggle…and there’s some that don’t make it,” said Yeargin. “They may be walking around with wounds you can see and they may be walking around with wounds you will never see, and they need the same help.”
After 10 years of volunteering, Yeargin has met countless veterans, some who share their stories, and others who would rather not. But what remains true about all of the veterans, is the unspoken bond they feel while walking together past every name.
“A little bit of relief that I finally got to come and honor the guys who deserve all the honor in the world, not just the guys but the ladies too because there were a lot of ladies who sacrificed a lot over in Vietnam,” said Dan Ford, who served in Germany during the Vietnam era from 1973-79.
It’s not rare for memories you forgot about while serving, said Ford, to pop up while taking in each name. The ones that seem to come up the most, are the ones involving the relationships formed while overseas.
“I have made several Vietnamese friends, and we all looked at one another and go, why why can’t we just be friends like we are now,” said Ford.
But no matter what emotion arises for the veterans while touring the Wall That Heals this week, the one that trumps them all, is gratitude.
“It means everything when you look at the cost of freedom, it’s not wrote on paper, it’s wrote in blood and in names, like the ones on this wall behind me,” said Yeargin.