East Huntingdon vet’s widow glad to see improved care for those who served
An East Huntingdon widow of a Vietnam War veteran said she is glad to see returning veterans being treated better than those of her husband’s era.
Karen Hauser has become an advocate of sorts for that treatment and encourages veterans of all ages to access the services available to them.
Hauser, 60, speaks fondly of her late husband, Robert Hauser, who died in February at the age of 64.
Drafted in 1969, Hauser sent home to his parents a poem he wrote called “Why.”
Karen Hauser said the piece was published in a local newspaper and displayed at his funeral service.
With Veterans Day approaching, she thought his words a timely reminder of veterans’ sacrifices.
“It starts, ‘Take a man, then put him alone, put him 12,000 miles from home,’” Hauser said.
It went on to address the burning of draft cards, the planting of protest signs on the White House lawn, drug use and some of his generation’s refusal to serve.
The poem then states, “And I’m supposed to die for you.”
Hauser returned home in 1971, and the couple married in 1972.
“That was a bad time to come home from war. Those guys had it really rough. There were no ticker tape parades for them. … They were called baby killers and spat on,” she said.
Soldiers went from wearing “jungle greens” to returning home with no debriefing, Hauser said.
Her husband worked at the Edgar Thompson Steel Works and tried other jobs. Ultimately, he became a truck driver, where the avid outdoorsman did not have to be confined to an office or plant, she said.
He later served with the Army National Guard as a recruiter.
Her husband spoke little of his time overseas, and declined to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, she said.
“He didn’t want to see someone’s name on the wall that he might have known,” she said.
Her husband worried about wearing a hat she bought him because it read “Vietnam Veteran.”
He was surprised, she said, when people would come up to him to shake his hand and thank him for his service.
“Every time I see a serviceman, I shake his hand and tell him ‘thank you.’ It’s respect they deserve,” Hauser said.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or [email protected].