EVANS, Ga. (WJBF)– The Georgia Department of Defense is honoring Vietnam War veterans across the state. The agency stopped in Augusta today.
Due to the controversy of the 11-year conflict, many returning Vietnam soldiers never received the respect they deserved.
Tabernacle Baptist Church West in Evans hosted a ceremony to “welcome home” Vietnam veterans today.. 50 years later.
“They are our heroes. These are the folks who pave the way for our current generation for our men and women serving in the armed forces,” Mike Roby with the Georgia Department of Veterans Services said.
It’s been more than 50 years since the start of the Vietnam War. Commissioner Roby said Governor Nathan Deal is a Vietnam veteran, but that is just one of the reasons why giving these heroes well-earned respect is a top priority.
“A lot of the Vietnam veterans did not get treated fairly. They were spit on and acted on in a nonprofessional manner. These young men and women that are serving today get welcomed home with a heroes welcome,” Commissioner Roby said.
Patrick Hayes, an evangelist who travels with the state program, is also Vietnam veteran. He experienced first hand what it felt like to return home as a soldier after war.
“They did not agree with the war, and they didn’t understand. That’s just where I will leave it. They did not understand the war. A lot of soldiers didn’t even understand it all. I didn’t even understand it all. I was just doing what I was told to do,” Hayes explained.
Commissioner Roby said there were a total of 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve, and 234,000 of them live in Georgia.
“Today makes the 261st ceremony we’ve had here in Georgia, and we’ve given out approximately 18 thousand certificates. Our hope is that we can reach every one of the 23400 Vietnam veterans,” Roby said.
He said the Department of Defense will continue the program until 2025.
Commissioner Roby wants every Vietnam veteran living in Georgia to receive an honorary certificate. To receive yours, contact the Georgia Department of Veterans Service office: https://veterans.georgia.gov/