Oakland Press: ‘Michigan Says Thanks’ event to honor Vietnam War era veterans and families

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By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Michigan’s Vietnam veterans, whether drafted or enlisted, served our country with honor. Tragically, too many returned home with little thanks for their service and not much help transitioning to civilian life. In October, we will spend some time thanking and honoring veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States.

The event, titled Michigan Says Thanks, will be held at noon on Thursday, October 8, on the lawn of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. I encourage all interested Michiganders to attend.

Michigan Says Thanks will highlight the service of the armed forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of federal agencies and Vietnam War era families, and it will pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the war.

A variety of vendor stations related to the Vietnam War era will be located on the north and south lawns of the Capitol. The following are some of the groups scheduled to attend:
•    The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). An MVAA service officer will answer questions and make follow-up appointments regarding benefits such as disability compensation, pension, dependent indemnity compensation, and others.
•    The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Congress authorized the Commemoration to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families, highlight their service, and pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by ordinary U.S citizens during the war.
The Commemorative Team will be on hand with posters, a wartime map of Vietnam and other giveaways. Volunteers will pin Lapel Pins on veterans who served during the Vietnam War era, between November 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of location.
•    The Michigan War Dog Memorial (MWDM). The MWDM is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization operated and managed by a band of military veterans and K-9 supporters. The organization has come together to restore an abandoned pet cemetery in Lyon Township and convert it into a final resting place, with honors, for military dogs, police dogs and service dogs.
•    Kelly Marie Trudell. Kelly is a professional singer-songwriter who has been performing for more than 35 years. Her Father and eight of his 12 siblings have served our nation, including three who served tours in Vietnam. Kelly travels throughout the U.S. singing for wounded veterans. Kelly was awarded the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award for her work with veterans, soldiers and their families.

More than nine million Americans served our country during the Vietnam War era. Michigan Says Thanks is focusing on the more than 237,000 Vietnam era Michiganders who reside here today. We can never fully repay those who served us, but we can say thank you at this event.

Visit www.MichiganSaysThanks.com for more information and to RSVP for the event.

This op-ed first appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.