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South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)

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South Texas VA honors its Vietnam-era Veterans

A man is shaking the hand of a Veteran who is sitting in a chair in his hospital room

Army and Vietnam Veteran, Joseph Campos is all smiles after receiving a thank-you card and 50th Vietnam War Commemoration lapel pin from South Texas VA Customer Service Manager David Caudill. Caudill said it was an honor to thank the men and women who fought for our Country and his freedom. (VA photos by Steve Goetsch)

By Steve Goetsch
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

With a rumble, South Texas VA Voluntary Services Assistant Chief, and Army Veteran Mr. Harry Robinson, set off with the “Comfort Cart,” that was converted into the Vietnam War Veterans Commemoration Cart, by outfitting it with commemorative ornamentation, and carrying a couple hundred lapel pins and thank-you cards. It was part of the National Vietnam War Veterans Day celebration March 29.

Through an executive order and presidential proclamation, the Nation is encouraged to honor and celebrate all Vietnam-era Veterans who served between 1955 and 1975; the duration of America’s involvement in the war. This special commemoration runs from Memorial Day 2012, through Veterans Day 2025.

In past years, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, conducted ceremonies in San Antonio and Victoria, Texas, but many Veterans were unable to make it because of mobility or health challenges. This year, the South Texas VA brought the ceremony to the Veteran by visiting and pinning 85 Veterans in their hospital rooms. Robinson, who said he always thanks Veterans for their service, jumped at the chance to honor these Vets. “Many of the spouses and family members eyes filled with tears as their loved ones proudly accepted the pins,” Robinson said. “I thank our Veterans for their service, but it was a little different for me this time.”
Intending to follow a Vietnam inpatient roadmap provided by nursing service, Robinson didn’t make it past the main lobby when several Vietnam Veterans took notice. The assistant chief personally pinned several and posed for photos while thanking them for their service before heading out on his mission.

The commemoration team, consisting of Robinson, Frank Palmisano, David Caudill and Justin Gonzales, worked their way through several wards visiting patients and their families.
Many of the Vietnam Veterans were overwhelmed by the gesture, and even the pin itself. Veteran Joseph Campos, an Army Veteran who went to Vietnam in 1971, did not want the lapel pin placed on his shirt, he wanted to look at it, his eyes fixed on its detail. “I’ve seen people with these on, and I’ve always wanted one,” Campos said, grinning. “This means a lot, it really does,”
Throughout the different units, reactions were the same, Veterans and their families appreciating the visit and gawking at the commemorative items they received. A man sitting in a wheelchair, holds up a commemorative photo and standing behind him are several nurses that take care of him

Spinal Cord Injury Unit patient Oscar Cortez, shows off his commemorative thank-you card, flanked by the SCI nursing staff that takes care of him. Cortez joined the service in 1950, and went to Korea where he was captured and became a POW. He went to Vietnam before retiring in 1970.

Intending to follow a Vietnam inpatient roadmap provided by nursing service, Robinson didn’t make it past the main lobby when several Vietnam Veterans took notice. The assistant chief personally pinned several and posed for photos while thanking them for their service before heading out on his mission.
The commemoration team, consisting of Robinson, Frank Palmisano, David Caudill and Justin Gonzales, worked their way through several wards visiting patients and their families.
Many of the Vietnam Veterans were overwhelmed by the gesture, and even the pin itself. Veteran Joseph Campos, an Army Veteran who went to Vietnam in 1971, did not want the lapel pin placed on his shirt, he wanted to look at it, his eyes fixed on its detail. “I’ve seen people with these on, and I’ve always wanted one,” Campos said, grinning. “This means a lot, it really does,”
Throughout the different units, reactions were the same, Veterans and their families appreciating the visit and gawking at the commemorative items they received. A Vietnam Veteran sitting in a hospital bed, is holding the thank-you card that was delivered to more than 80 Veterans

Navy and Vietnam Veteran George Wingo holds up the thank-you card provided to Veterans on March 29 as part of the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration event. Wingo became emotional by the gesture.

One Vietnam-era Veteran, James Reimar, an Army supply sergeant, figured he was on his way to Vietnam, but an injury kept him in Germany, and he insisted he didn’t deserve the recognition the other Veterans did. After some exchanges with the team, he humbly accepted their gratitude and said the VA already recognizes his service with the treatment he has received. He said he feels blessed to have access to his medical care, having been hospitalized on multiple occasions that required complex care. “I honestly don’t know where I’d be without VA services,” Reimar said, getting a little emotional.
The commemoration team’s visits did bring out a bit of emotion. Veteran George Wingo broke down after he received his lapel pin. He said it is so different than just a “thank you” and that it meant so much more coming from fellow Veterans, and that they took the time out to recognize him.
Pinned by Spinal Cord Unit Administrative Officer Frank Palmisano, Air Force and Navy Veteran, and more importantly, a Vietnam-era Veteran himself, said Wingo’s visit was his favorite. “As I am of that era, it gave me the chance to say thank you to other Veterans that were at the “Tip of the Spear,” Palmisano said.” Palmisano recounted Wingo saying no one ever told him that before. “He was actually in tears, and that absolutely made my year.”
In addition to the visits in the main hospital, the South Texas VA took a page from the credo, “no one left behind” by identifying and including 197 home-based primary care patients to personally honor.

Check out some photos from the visits

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