AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- America's most recent military veterans—those from Afghanistan and Iraq—continue to be welcomed home and receive help with jobs and emotions support from both government and private business groups. But many of America’s Vietnam veterans say they still feel the hurt of being ignored many years ago.
Maine has about 44,000 Vietnam veterans, and on Tuesday, the Veterans Administration began what will be a years-long effort to thank them. Leaders of VA Maine at Togus held a special ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam war, based on a goal set several years ago by the Obama Administration.
Governor Paul LePage spoke to the veterans’ audience about the animosity many veterans encountered when they came home from the war.
”What nobody realized is it wasn’t your fault. Your country asked you to go fight a war. And you were scorned, ridiculed and embarrassed when you came home you didn’t dare wear your uniform,” LePage said.
Veterans say they appreciate the effort to thank them.
“Long overdue…I appreciate it," Navy vet Cliff Hooper of Belfast said.
His friend Steve Brown said he was bothered for years about the way he and other Vietnam vets were treated when they came home, although he said the VA thank you was very welcome.
“...but after something like this here, it’s well appreciated now.” Said Brown. “And life goes on.”
The VA says it will continue holding events for Vietnam veterans from now through 2025.