Veterans returning from Iraq war were received much more warmly than those returning from Vietnam War. Iraq war veterans were seen as true patriots and nationalists as opposed to the Vietnam War veterans who received little recognition. There are various reasons that made their reception different.
International Security vs political ideology
The reasons the United States invaded Iraq was because the US believed that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and had the means and intention to spread the weapons, especially to international terrorists. On the other hand, the Vietnam War was based on the fact that the United States feared that Vietnam would spread communism to the rest of South-East Asia (Dumbrell & Ryan, 2007). Based on this fact, there is more reason to believe the Iraq war veterans served their country better since they prevented the spread of terrorism and maintained the American security. This is especially due to the fact that Americans are concerned about their security, both internally and externally (Melanson, 2005). The Vietnam War veterans on the other hand fought communism, an ideology that can better be addressed economically and not necessarily by warfare.
The Iraq war received more media coverage than the Vietnam War. Many more American citizens were aware of the Iraq war than they were aware of the Vietnam War then. This could partly be attributed to the growth of the media between the period of the Vietnam War and the Iraq war occurred which came much later on (Aalai, 2008). Therefore in conclusion, the two main reasons why the Iraq war soldiers have received heroic perception from the American public are the combination of media coverage and the security concerns of the American public.