A special commemoration ceremony was held Tuesday night for Vietnam Veterans at Monroe Community Hospital.
The ceremony was one of a number of events scheduled Tuesday all over the country, with March 29th designated by the federal government to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Ken Moore is a past president of Chapter 20 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, which covers much of the Rochester area; he’s also a combat vet who served in Vietnam in the mid-1960s.
Moore says when he returned from Vietnam, he didn’t really tell anyone he was a veteran, since there didn’t seem to be a lot of respect for people who served in that war at that time.
But by the early 1980s, the Veterans Outreach Center was starting up in Rochester, and when Moore visited that location he finally felt someone was empathetic to what he had gone through.
“Went up there and I knocked on the door, this guy came to the door, … he said, you a Vietnam vet ? And I said yeah, and he said ‘welcome home,’ and that was the first time anybody ever said that to me.”
Moore says to this day, whenever he’s in a public space, like an airport, or a mall, if he sees a young veteran he walks up to that person and thanks him or her for their service and says ‘welcome home,’ something Moore says we can all do to make their transition a little easier.
Moore used to work with veterans at the Monroe County Veterans Service Agency, and he says he still sees Vietnam War era vets with post-traumatic stress. He’s also worried about current veterans, who have spent even longer tours overseas in war zones.
“You take them out of high school, six months later if you train them; you send them off to a war zone to start shooting at people, and they haven’t even had an life experience yet , but you expect them to do that, and they’re coming back messed up.”
Moore says if people want to help, and you know a veteran, make sure he or she knows about the broad range of services and benefits that are available to them.
He says a good place to start for local vets is the Monroe County Veterans Service Agency on Westfall Road.