BALTIMORE — Gilchrist Hospice Care is ensuring our Vietnam Veterans are honored this year despite the pandemic.
The Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebrations are 50 years in the making for a lot of these veterans.
When veterans came home from Vietnam they had battle scars that were rarely acknowledged.
“When I landed at Friendship International Airport, now known as BWI, it was a little after Midnight and my brother picked me up,”’said Retired Army Veteran Tom Purdy. “We went out and got in his car and he took me home. You put it in a bag and put it back there like maybe it never happened and you go on with your life.”
After two tours in Vietnam Retired Army Veteran Tom Purdy didn’t even have a picture from Vietnam to look back on.
A friend he served with sent him one last year.
“I had never been to anything prior, and it’s been over 50 years since I’d left Vietnam.”
Now Purdy is connected again and decided to volunteer for the event.
Diane Sancilio is the Director of Counseling and Support at Gilchrist.
“We have families that say you know my dad has never talked about Vietnam and now we can’t shut him up,” said Sancilio.
It’s no secret that Vietnam Era Veterans didn’t have the warm welcome home others did and do now.
We all kind of looked at eachother and said why are we waiting to the very end of peoples lives to bring honor, respect, and care and to welcome them home,” said Sancilio.
One of Purdy’s favorite memories of the celebration was a salute they did for a 90 year old veteran.
“The wife called and said I don’t think it’s really worth doing because he’s out of it,” said Purdy. “So we went well let’s do it anyway. The guys went through the whole program and at the end we gave him a salute and he raised his hand and saluted us back. We all lost it.”
This years Joe is volunteering and wants more veterans to get involved.
There is a great list of guest speakers including Joseph Galloway, a longtime war correspondent who co-authored National best seller “We Were Soldiers Once... And young”, and Kimberly Mitchell an advocate for Vietnam Veterans and homeless veterans.
If you want to sign up click here.