It has been more than three decades since my uncle came home from his tour in Vietnam, but he wore the battle on his face for many years. Even when I was little, I understood the man in my family who walked jungle trails as a Marine grunt was different from my other relatives. He didn’t talk about his experiences much, to the detriment of our family and our history.
My uncle’s story is hardly unique among Vietnam Veterans, and the less than welcoming reception from the public played a role in how comfortable many were in speaking about his experiences. As the Marine Corps blog noted, Vietnam Veterans never received a welcome fit for their honor and sacrifice.
Last year, the Senate recognized March 30 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” to right the wrongs of our past. State and local governments are holding their own events in a long overdue motion of support.
This year, the USO of North Carolina is organizing an event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on March 31 to thank Vietnam Veterans. Live entertainment will be on hand, but more importantly, VA will have mobile sites set up to help Veterans sign up for health care and benefits. Veteran Service Organizations will also be on hand to explain the services and support they offer.
If you’re interested in attending the free event, check out this page for more information, contact phone numbers, and information on how to get tickets. And don’t forget to bring a DD-214!
Veterans are still coming home long after the last shot in Vietnam was fired. Men and women like my uncle didn’t have the homecoming they deserved, so it’s up to every community to welcome home our Vietnam Vets any way they can.