OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs says it hopes to rectify a situation that has impacted some veterans for decades.
When Vietnam veterans returned home from deployment, they were, historically, not celebrated.
Now, the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Health Care System Behavioral Health staff spoke with many veterans and they said they wanted a proper ‘welcome home’ ceremony.
Behavioral Health-Peer Support specialist Bryan Rich has coordinated with local businesses to provide Vietnam-era service members with a ‘Welcome Home Celebration’ they deserve.
“We wanted Vietnam Veterans to finally be welcomed home the same way that the American public welcomed us home from Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Rich. “I have always believed that we learn from our past mistakes and to help heal others we must be humble and, in this case, give them something they never received.”
The OKC VA hopes this celebration will help heal some of the wounds these veterans have carried for years.
“I also hope to create a connection for each person that attends this event, provide trust in our services and support programs and to provide resources to get them the help they deserve,” said Rich. “This event is just a small gesture but what we hope to provide is giving these Veterans the dignity, respect and gratitude they deserve for Serving our county.”
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Ceremony
The Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans ceremony will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on March 29 at both Black Rifle Coffee Company locations:
- 1909 S. Telephone Rd. in Moore
- 14215 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in Oklahoma City.
Organizers say all veterans, spouses, caregivers, active-duty personnel, and anyone wanting to support the veterans is welcome to attend.
Beginning around 1 p.m., supporters will be able to shake the hands of all Vietnam veterans and give them the recognition they deserve for their service.
Each Vietnam veteran in attendance will receive a White House issued certificate and a special Vietnam veteran pin during the ceremony.
Organizers say guests will also be able to experience a jet flyover, which is planned at the Moore location.
Distinguished Veterans Honored
During the ceremony, two distinguished veterans will be honored.
Lance Corporal Dale Graham and Specialist Five Dwight Birdwell will be celebrated and will receive plaques for their efforts overseas and at home.
After returning from Vietnam in 1967, Graham formed the Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation, which has helped more than 30,000 families file benefit claims.
Birdwell is being celebrated for his bravery on the battlefield.
Even though he was wounded in the face, neck, chest, and arms, he took the post of his injured tank captain and continued to engage enemy troops.