SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – A Veteran’s Day ceremony Sunday honored the men and women serving the country, but this year there was a special focus on the veterans who may have not heard as many thank yous over the years.
It was all part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Unlike the joyous homecomings we see featured for today's returning vets, the men and women who fought in the unpopular Vietnam War came home to an unwelcoming country and often never received the appreciation they deserved.
“The Vietnam veterans went and did what they were asked for our freedom it wasn't them that caused the war, but they went and did what was asked of them and that was to serve,” said Curtis Roche, a former U.S. Marine.
Along with an over-due thank you, each Vietnam vet received a special commemorative coin.
“I wanted to have a little token to give to each other the Vietnam veterans that were here as a little bit of appreciation for them,” said Terry Schow, of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs.
Vietnam vet Val Polleck, appreciated the gesture. “Makes me feel very good, it's worth it,” he said. “Utah was pretty good to returning vets but a lot of other states weren't, California was one,” he said.
Although attitudes towards troops have improved over the years there's still work to be done. Utah is below the national average for its veterans receiving compensation and health care from the VA-- something veterans groups here hope to change.
“If you're hurt or injured, if you're not enrolled, let us help you,” said Schow.
A task force was formed this year to find a way to reach out to Utah's 165,000 veterans who may need services, but don't ask for them. The group will present its findings to the state legislature this year.