By Xue Yang, LCSW, SEP
I was born in 1969 in Laos during the Vietnam War. My father was one of the soldiers in the secret army led by the CIA. We became refugees after the Americans pulled out of the Vietnam War in 1974. My family was one of the first families to cross over into Thailand. I have vague memories of living in UN tents. The Lutheran Refugee group sponsored my family to the United States. My father was shocked and perplexed that no one in the USA knew of the CIA army.
My story is not very different from most other’s. There’s conflict, war, displacement and more importantly, there were people all along the way helping. I remember the wonderful Thai food given to us by the family who found us on the bank of the Mekong River. I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Lovett, who not only taught me how to read and write but also went out of her way to buy me a pair of new shoes every school year. There were countless acts of kindness.
I graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in 1987 and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis in 1991. Due to the kindness of friends, mentors, and total strangers, I knew I wanted to be in the helping profession and received a Master in Social Work from the University of Houston College of Social Work in 2007 along with a post-graduate fellowship from the Menninger Clinic in 2008.
My private practice specializes in trauma resolution. I suppose trauma resolution work comes easily to me because of my own personal background.
From the moment of conception, I was steeped in conflict and trauma. At the same time, there was help, community and kindness. Now that I am in a place where I can give back, I have chosen to give back via The Soldiers Project.
To this day, I remember the look on my father’s face when people expressed disbelief that he served in Vietnam in the US Navy, led by the CIA. And I remember that expression of hurt and confusion on many veterans when I interned at the VA. There are no words to describe the hurt.