The non-profit Vietnam Veterans of America was founded on the motto: “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
The group is passionate about supporting their own because after they came home from fighting a war their country sent them to fight, they were largely unsupported and even treated with hostility.
Vietnam vets don’t need to hear “thank you for your service” as much as, “welcome home.” So whether you know someone who served in southeast Asia or happen to pass one on your way to work, here are 9 actions you can take to give them the welcome home they never received:
1. Listen to them and learn their stories
Taking the time to learn and understand the experiences a veteran goes through helps you to understand them and appreciate their sacrifices on much more personal level.
2. Write them a letter
Giving a letter to a Vietnam veteran expressing your appreciation and support of what they sacrificed is something they can read on their own time and keep as a reminder that America ultimately cares about their era of service.
3. Give them a surprise welcome back
For extra effect, do this on the anniversary of the day they returned home from the war. Check around at local veteran organizations; you may be able to be part of a larger homecoming celebration, like the one in this video.
4. Perform community service together
Having an experience of serving together, no matter how small, is a shared experience you will both appreciate.
5. Organize a reunion for them
This may take a lot of planning, but coordinating an event that brings together Vietnam veterans who served together is going above and beyond showing how much you appreciate their service.
6. Organize their photos / records / awards into a scrapbook or shadowbox
Many vets have their memories in boxes or in storage somewhere. Ask to take them and display them so they will not be damaged but also displayed in an honorable way.
7. Give thanks by really helping them out
Ask if there is are any errands and chores you can do or to get to know them more, or see if there is anywhere you can go (museum, hike, etc.).
8. Have a memorial for the fallen
By visiting a memorial with them or having one of your own together, show them you honor the fallen and will never forget them.
9. Invite them to speak at a school class or social function
Having a veteran speak in a history class or at a social community event is a great way to educate the younger generation and your community about the services and sacrifices service members make.