Mar 23, 2024 | By: Zy'Riah Simmons

Brainerd VFW Honors Vietnam Veterans at Annual Gathering

Dozens of veterans gathered at the Brainerd VFW on Friday, where they were honored for their service during the Vietnam War.

Many Vietnam veterans simply wanted recognition for their service in the Vietnam War, which eventually led to the passing of the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act in 2017. The act designated March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day, but the Brainerd VFW chose to host their gathering a week early, as Good Friday falls on March 29 this year.

For veterans, the passage of the recognition act gave them a huge sense of relief.

“It was very poignant for me, you know, being a Vietnam vet, I thought that, wow, finally, you know, we’re going to be recognized,” reflected HM Michael Williams, Navy Corpsman, 1972-73. “So that that was a good thing.”

“I thought that it was about time because we’re talking more than 50 years,” said Sgt. Mark Persons, Army, 1968-69. “And I’m hoping that they do the same thing for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans later on.”

Events like the Vietnam Veterans gathering at the Brainerd VFW are important to veterans. Sharing their experiences of the war with fellow veterans is something that they didn’t do when they first came back.

“It’s good to get together because we can reconnect and tell some of those stories, buddy to buddy, that we can’t necessarily tell our wives because it has to do with situations we face in the war,” emphasized Persons. “And it’s important that we can have that interchange with other people who were there.”

“When we came back, we never, ever discussed being a Vietnam vet,” explained Sgt. David Meyer, 101st Airborne, 1968-69. “You could work with people for years and not know that they were veterans.”

“I think it’s extremely important that we all get together and reminisce. Here’s a good reason why,” said Williams as he pointed to a room full of veterans at the VFW. “A lot of the people don’t know what benefits that they’ve earned. And we as the VFW or the DVA can actually steer them in the right direction in order to get that done.”

Whether it’s physical or mental health problems or financial issues, the veterans who gathered Friday want to make sure that all veterans are taken care of.

“Since I’ve retired, that’s been my goal and I try to do it as much as I can. It’s surprising there’s still a lot of veterans out there that don’t know what they’re eligible for, their benefits,” added Meyer. “And we encourage them to get the help that they need.”

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