Murkowski Honors Purple Heart Veteran in July 4th Spotlight

Alaskan Vietnam Vet Turns PTSD Heartache into Relief for Other Vets

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Independence Day, Senator Lisa Murkowski is commemorating it by releasing her latest “Veteran Spotlight” featuring Alaskan veteran Benno Cleveland – a Fairbanks Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War.

In his Veteran Spotlight interview, Benno talks about volunteering for the U.S. Army in 1968 under the Great Society Choice after running into trouble with the law in Fairbanks.  He served two tours in Dong Tam, Vietnam, earning the Purple Heart before being discharged for medical reasons in 1970.  When he returned home to Alaska, Benno recalls struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a number of health problems, including feeling like he no longer belonged in the “Real World” outside the Vietnam War zone.


Benno Cleveland, Vietnam Veteran

 Click the image above for a brief excerpt from the interview; click here for ten minutes of Mr. Cleveland’s observations and stories.

“Unfortunately, PTSD is a very real problem for veterans returning home from war, whether that war was decades ago, or it is one going on now,” said Murkowski.  “It takes veterans like Benno, and the entire Alaskan community, to reach out to these men and women who have fought for us to help them heal. We owe it to them to honor them through sharing their stories, and we owe it to the rest of us to learn from the high levels of patriotism, commitment and service they demonstrated for us.”

The “Veteran Spotlight” project is a monthly focus on an Alaska veteran of our conflicts worldwide to honor and draw the well-deserved attention to Alaska’s men and women who served.  These interviews are a collaboration between Senator Murkowski and the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

Click here for the debut interview from Memorial Day with Harold Bahr, a member of the Alaska Territorial Guard.

Congress created the Veterans History Project (VHP), in 2000. Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton, and Steny Hoyer in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel in the U.S. Senate, sponsored the project under unanimous support. The law was signed by President Bill Clinton on October 27, 2000.

To nominate an Alaskan veteran to be included in Sen. Murkowski’s Veteran Spotlight project, email Spotlight@Murkowski.Senate.Gov.