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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vietnam Veterans Day

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who served in Vietnam as an Army noncommissioned officer, issued a statement commemorating Vietnam Veterans Day.
“Today and this weekend, communities across the country commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day.
“This year we also mark forty years since the end of U.S. combat operations in Vietnam. On March 29, 1973, the last of our combat forces departed the country and the final release of American prisoners of war drew to a close.
“When Vietnam veterans reached their hometowns, many were not greeted with the appreciation and respect they very much deserved. In our time we must take every opportunity to thank all veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.
“More than 1,600 service members remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. Their families still seek answers. Today, the Department of Defense reaffirms its commitment to take all steps to account for our missing personnel and bring closure to their families. And we salute and thank our Vietnam veterans and their families.”
In California, yesterday was Cesar Chavez Day.  Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed today as the day for Vietnam veterans:
Over two million Americans served in the Vietnam War and related conflicts in Southeast Asia between 1959 and 1975. More than 58,000 did not return. Of those who survived, over 300,000 suffered physical injuries in combat, and an even greater number developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric ailments as a result of their service.
Our treatment of the veterans of Vietnam and other wars reflects profoundly on our character as a nation. Too many of our veterans suffer from unemployment, poverty, homelessness, substance abuse and disability. For this reason I signed Executive Order B-9-11, creating the Interagency Council on Veterans to coordinate the state’s efforts in providing assistance to veterans in need. While the Council continues to explore every possible improvement in policies and programs related to veterans’ issues, I urge all citizens to act in the same spirit by welcoming home our veterans, thanking them for their service and assisting them in every conceivable way.
NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim March 30, 2013, as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 29th day of March 2013. 
KRCG report on Missouri's observance:

In Knoxville, Tennnessee, WVLT reports:
Our country celebrates Vietnam Veterans day for the first time. President Barack Obama declared the holiday last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the war.

We spoke to a Vietnam vet who says veterans from this war were mistreated when they returned home. Lloyd Pitney [no relation] says many have largely been forgotten, left to deal quietly with the scars you don't see like PTSD and depression. Pitney explains what having a day to honor Vietnam veterans means to him.

Lloyd Pitney says, "It's a rememberance of friends. Those I didn't know that didn't come back and thinking about those who defected our country. It's nice to see the country recognizing those who came back."

Pitney says he entered the Navy to put his life on the line for his country, and got no appreciation for it until recently as more people thank him for his service.