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It is never too late. With the last combat troops pulled out of South Vietnam nearly 39 years ago to the day, Veterans and Communities across the country are more than ever again saying “Welcome Home” to Vietnam Veterans this week.
Veterans Advantage Founder & CEO Scott Higgins accepting a cake from Rolling Thunder representatives, and fellow Vietnam Veterans, on Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day, March 24, 2012. The ceremony was held at the Vietnam Veterans Plaza, home of NYC's Vietnam Veterans Memorial.(click image to enlarge)
In Washington, and following on a similar proclamation last year, the U.S. Senate declared March 30th as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day,” agreeing unanimously to a resolution introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
“It’s time they receive the recognition they have earned and deserve. This day also provides our nation with an important teaching moment. Never again should our men and women serving in the armed forces receive the same treatment as those returning from Vietnam,” said Senator Burr.
The US Armed Forces began serving in an advisory role to the South Vietnamese in 1961, and in 1965, ground combat troops were sent into Vietnam. On March 30, 1973, after many years of combat, all US troops withdrew under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. More than 58,000 members of the United States Armed Forces lost their lives and more than 300,000 were wounded in Vietnam.
Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Thad Cochran (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) co-sponsored the legislation.
Meanwhile in New York City, historically one of the most active regions in the country for veteran activity, highlighted by its widely attended Veterans Day Parade, Vietnam Veterans were the first to say “Welcome Home” this year, from its own ceremony held this past Saturday, March 24.
“It is impossible to adequately express the gratitude we owe the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces,” said New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s NYC proclamation, whose event this week included a keynote address by Veterans Advantage Founder and CEO, Scott Higgins. “They are responsible for protecting the values we all hold dear, and for ensuring our continued freedom. We are always proud to honor their tremendous commitment and sacrifice for the greater good,” the mayor added.
"But, our work is not done and everyone needs to do their part. We must continue the work to provide Vietnam Vets with the benefits and healthcare they deserve," Higgins also told the gathering of Vietnam Veterans, Active Duty personnel, Government dignitaries, Gold Star families and patriotic supporters.
"This current generation of Veterans and their families need our support. At Veterans Advantage, our goal is to make every day Veterans Day and to recognize Veteran service and sacrifice with real economic benefits for them and their families. And we must find ways to assist our wounded warriors – especially those who suffer from TBI and PTS and to reintegrate them into our communities."
The ceremony was held at the Vietnam Veterans Plaza, home of NYC's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Scott Higgins Co-Chaired the City commission that built the memorial, and held the subsequent "Welcome Home" parade for his fellow Vietnam veterans – the first of its kind in the country – in 1985.
New York City’s event was especially poignant as participants took turns reading the 1,741 names from New York City who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War. Other stirring statements honoring the service of fellow Vietnam Veterans include Paul W. Bucha, a medal of honor recipient and Veterans Advantage Advisory Board member, Colonel Forrest R. Newton, US Army and John Rowan, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America.
“Americans belatedly embrace Vietnam veterans as well, having come to the realization that those who served fought as well as their fathers and uncles did in World War II and in Korea. As we approach 50 years since the beginning of that ill-fated venture, events are being planned nationally as well as locally to honor those who served, and to remember those who were lost to the war. “Better late than never” may be a cliché, but it’s never too late to say Thank You for Your Service, and Welcome Home,” Rowan said.
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