John Rockhold had participated in the Vietnam War. Now he has a wife, children and a job in Saigon.
After the war ended in 1975, Rockhold first came back to Vietnam in 1992 to implement a program to help economic refugees. He settled in Vietnam in 1995 and married a Vietnamese woman in 2009.
Rockhold liked Vietnam so much that he persuaded his mother in Santa Maria, California, USA to move to Vietnam in 2009. “She attended the wedding and decided to stay,” he said with a laugh. She lived in Vietnam until her death in 2015 at the age of 94.
Rockhold, now 66 years old, has two children aged 9 and 10, two children were born by caesarean section, along with a 4-day hospitalization of about $ 1,200, much cheaper than in the United States. Rockhold family lives in an apartment on the 20th floor in an apartment overlooking the Saigon River. The family apartment he is staying in has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, about 170 square meters with the price of about 250,000 USD in 2011.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the rapid growth in Vietnam and its neighboring Southeast Asian countries has created an unimaginable situation in the past: an explosion in the number of Americans who are living like in Florida, Nevada, Arizona of the US but in Vietnam. Monthly expenses here rarely exceed $ 2,000, even when living in an apartment like Rockhold.
Rockhold said that the majority of the apartment owners in the apartment building he lives in are middle-class people in Vietnam, many of whom work for government or education, and are able to afford traveling abroad.
“Vietnamese people are very kind to me,” Rockhold told the Los Angeles Times.
When he retired, Rockhold was always busy like joining a volunteer organization that provides solar energy to low-income households. His wife’s family farm is about 45 minutes’ drive from where he used to fight. “I never thought that I would own something in Vietnam 30 years later,” Rockhold said with a giggle.
It is not known exactly how many retired Americans are living in Vietnam. Interviews of the Los Angeles Times with about a dozen retired foreigners living in Vietnam show that some people are here with one-year tourist visas, others stay here for only one or two seasons.Some people qualify for permanent residency by marrying Vietnamese citizens, as Rockhold did.
Another man, Michael Gormalley, a former army sergeant, returned to Vietnam as a volunteer English teacher for rural high schools in 2008. In 2014, he started teaching at a university in Vietnam.
Frederick R. Burke, a lawyer at the law firm Baker McKenzie, who has a good relationship in the overseas American community in Los Angeles, commented on the number of veterans living in Vietnam: “They often associate kissing a Vietnamese woman, and their social security benefits with much greater value than they do in Los Angeles. ”