Gilchrist “Welcomes Home” Vietnam Veterans
Join Gilchrist on March 30, 2019, for our second annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration.
Gilchrist is committed to improving health care services to veterans at the end of life, as well as honoring all veterans in our community. Each year on March 30, we hold a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day celebration to honor men and women in the community who served during the Vietnam War.
This event gives veterans the heartfelt “welcome home” that many did not receive after their service. As the coordinator of Gilchrist’s We Honor Veterans program, I have spoken to numerous Vietnam veterans about their experience returning home from service and feeling the brunt of the country’s disapproval of the war. Some of our brave airmen, soldiers, navy and marines were spit on and called horrible names. One Vietnam veteran told me he took off his uniform during his return flight so that when he arrived, no one would know he was in the military. Another Vietnam veteran, Former Delegate Clarence “Tiger” Davis, who served four years in the United States Air Force, said of his homecoming, “I felt neglected.”
Helping Veterans Heal
Some Vietnam veterans still feel the blame and hurt today. Maryland took an important step in the healing process four years ago, when Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill sponsored by Senator John Astle declaring March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. Last year, Gilchrist held its inaugural Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration, honoring over 300 veterans in our community who served during the Vietnam War.
After our event last year, one veteran told us, “After all these years, the words ‘thank you’ and ‘welcome home’ brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for making this happen.” Another said, “That celebration will never be forgotten. I felt completely honored and appreciated for the sacrifices that we made, but [was] afraid to feel pride until your event.”
This year’s Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration will be held on March 30, 2019, at Martin’s West. Join us for a complimentary brunch, a heartfelt program and a joyous celebration of the service of our Vietnam veterans.
We are honored to have Colonel George G. Forrest, USA (Ret.) emcee our event once again. He served as commander of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, Arlington National Cemetery, and was also the commander of an infantry rifle company in Vietnam. His story and other members of the First Cavalry Division in the Battle of the la Drang was the subject of Mel Gibson’s movie, “We Were Soldiers.”
We are honored to have three new guest speakers this year:
Vietnam Army Nurse
1Lt. Diane Carlson Evans was an Army Nurse in Vietnam and is the Founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project. She became the first woman in American history to spearhead a campaign to place a national monument in Washington, D.C., recognizing the contribution of military women.
Prisoner of War
Captain Guy Gruters was an Air Force pilot in Vietnam who flew more than 400 combat missions. In 1967, he was shot down, captured and imprisoned in the Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) for over five years.
A Proud Marine
Lt. Colonel Tim Maxwell was deployed to Iraq in 2004, with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. It was his sixth deployment overseas, and the third since 9/11. On October 7, 2004, Maxwell was injured when his forward operating base in Kalsu was mortared by the enemy.
A Joyous Welcome Home
Gilchrist’s 2nd Annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration brings our Vietnam veterans together with our community, so they can share stories and receive something that has long been missing: a joyous welcome home.
If you or someone you love served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam Era and would like to join us on March 30, 2019, please register on our website: www.gilchristcares.org/events/welcome-home-celebration or call 443-849-8306.