Charlie Daniels’ song ‘Still in Saigon’ was part of the wave of attention that musicians put on the plight of Vietnam War veterans in the 1980s. He has been very supportive of veterans throughout his career.
Charlie Daniels was not in the military. Although he was of age to be drafted during the Vietnam War, he appears to have never been called to the draft. He has been very supportive of Vietnam War veterans through founding the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. He was also an honorary brigadier general with the Tennessee State Guard.
Scroll down to read more below about the difficulties war veterans face, Charlie Daniels’ song ‘Still in Saigon,’ and his support of veterans.
Veterans Difficult Post-War Life
While the 1960s and 1970s brought about the anti-war movements and the emergence of psychedelics and hippy culture, the 1980s shed light on the hardships of war veterans. Charlie Daniels was one of the first musicians to put out a song about that plight.
It was about ten years after the Vietnam War ended and people in America were starting to become aware of the terrible effects modern warfare had on veterans. Something was different between the Vietnam War vets and the WWII vets.
The truth of the matter was they had been exposed to guerilla warfare. Guerilla warfare is a much more brutal and unorthodox style of warfare.
Many of the soldiers who served in Vietnam were left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Not only that but these vets returned to a country that was hugely divided and lacked the support for people with PTSD.
Mental health awareness and support is an area that the United States government has disregarded for years; in part due to the private health care system. So it makes sense that many veterans returned to a country where there was no support for them whatsoever.
Then there was the fact that they returned home to the anti-war movement where half the country was villainizing them for their participation in the war. This was despite the fact that many who served had no choice due to the mandatory draft.
Thus, a lot of famous musicians began to compose songs about the difficulty these veterans had faced since returning ten years earlier. Artists like Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and the News, and Steve Earle all sang songs about these difficulties.
Charlie Daniels’ ‘Still in Saigon’
Charlie Daniels Band’s song ‘Still in Saigon’ was released in 1982 on their album Windows. It was the first single to be released on the album.
The song was written by the songwriter Dan Daley and it talks about the struggles a young man faces when he finds out he has been drafted into the Vietnam War.
You can listen to the full Charlie Daniels song ‘Still in Saigon’ in the below YouTube video.
‘Still in Saigon’ has lyrics that highlight the character’s decision to fight in the war instead of staying in school or fleeing to Canada. This is due to the feeling he had been brought up differently.
He can’t run from the war that he feels haunts him every day. The character is so ashamed that he feels he can’t tell anyone about what is happening to him.
The song goes on to explain that his younger brother views him as a murderer while his father is proud. However, none of this matters because he doesn’t even know who he is anymore.
These lyrics convey the struggles that many soldiers and veterans have been faced with because they suffer from PTSD.
Charlie Daniels’ Veteran Support
Another way that Charlie Daniels has shown huge support for veterans was through founding the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. It is located at Middle Tennessee State University.
The center opened in 2015 to support veteran students at the university. Its mission is to help “provide transition services for Veterans and their families as they return to civilian life after military service.”
Daniels also founded The Journey Home Project which is another foundation focused on helping veterans transition to civilian life.
In 2019, Daniels was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service award and the AmVet Silver Helmet award. These were to recognize his support of military personnel.