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The man who got the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built

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Jan Scruggs gazes up at the names of fellow military service members inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Steve Inskeep
/
NPR
Jan Scruggs gazes up at the names of fellow military service members inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

For Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs, 'It's just magnificent to do something that's had such incredible impact.'

Jan Scruggs spent just under two years in the United States Army, most of that time fighting in Vietnam. He would spend more than three years convincing Congress and the American public to erect the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the more than 57,000 service members whose lives were lost in that conflict.

This year the memorial turns 40 and the Army veteran recalled when the idea for it came to him and the challenges he faced to get it built.

Scruggs received a master's degree in psychology and is recognized as an expert on PTSD. He has observed the effect the memorial can have on Vietnam veterans.

"Many veterans who have post traumatic stress disorder," he observes, "merely by making physical contact with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, near the names of their buddies, get better."

  • Jan Scruggs, founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
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