CENTRAL NEW YORK (WSYR-TV) — Pat Prettyman and Evelyn Disinger are military veterans of the Vietnam era. Prettyman was an Army medic. Disinger was with the Air Force. Both during and after the Vietnam War, they faced an all too common reaction from their fellow Americans.
“We were not liked,” Prettyman said. “We could not wear our uniforms anywhere, even in basic. We could not wear our uniforms downtown, because people did not like us.”
“You didn’t talk about it very much,” Disinger said. “You know, it wasn’t, ‘cause I can remember coming home and my mother wanting me to wear my uniform. You didn’t wanna do that, sorry, no that’s ok.”
But it wasn’t ok, the way Vietnam vets were treated. Jimi Prettyman had the same experience when he came home, wounded from that war, in April of 1969. that’s when he met Pat.
“For some reason, I knew he was the one,” Pat Prettyman said. “So in September of ’69, we got married. We’ve been together 50 years now, so I guess he was the one!”
Yes, the marriage has lasted, but so have the unseen wounds of war. To help heal those wounds, Jimi Prettyman meets every other week with his PTSD support group at the Syracuse Vet Center.
“He never spoke about Vietnam, never ever spoke about Vietnam, until he met his group here at the Vet Center. And they saved his life. And now he opens up,” Pat Prettyman said. “Even though we were both Vietnam, he was combat. I was Vietnam era vet. He never talked to me about it. And I never pushed him. Now that he’s with his group. And we do a lot with his group, with his group’s wives, we play cards together, we go to dinner together. We do a lot of things together. This is his lifeline now.”
Pat Prettyman now volunteers regularly at the Vet center, where they warmly welcome men and women who serve in the armed forces. Women who served and need their own support systems.
“Just like the men do, from being over in a conflict like that, and coming back to families and children they’ve been separated from for 12 to 18 months,” Disinger said.
“Just to let them know they’re not alone. That we went through the same things they’re going through. That we’re here to help them acclimate back to civilian life,” Pat Prettyman said. “We’re here to help them through anything they might be going through.”
That’s why Prettyman and Desinger are inviting women in active duty, retired, or veterans from any branch of the service, in any era, to join the Salt City Women Veterans unit. You can call Evelyn Desinger, the unit president, at (315) 857-7634.
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