Vietnam Veterans Honored at Emotional ‘Welcome Home’ Event in Washington

Vietnam Veterans Honored at Emotional ‘Welcome Home’ Event in Washington
Col. Jeri Graham, USA (Ret), a Life Member of MOAA and former MOAA board member, greeted many Vietnam veterans with a hug and hearty “Welcome home!” during the Vietnam Commemoration on the National Mall. (Photos by Tony Lombardo/MOAA)

Sgt. 1st Class John Gill, USA (Ret), stood at attention, surrounded by JROTC cadets. “A grateful nation thanks and honors you,” Col. Jeri Graham, USA (Ret), a Life Member of MOAA and former MOAA national board member, told Gill as she and a JROTC cadet presented him with a Vietnam Commemoration pin.


She added a heartfelt “Welcome home.”  


“It was special,” Gill said afterward. “This was the first time somebody publicly thanked me for what I did. It means a lot.”



Sgt. 1st Class John Gill, USA (Ret), receives his Vietnam Commemoration pin May 12 in a ceremony led by Life Member of MOAA and former MOAA board member Col. Jeri Graham, USA (Ret), right.


The former member of the 25th Infantry Division participated in just one of many pinning ceremonies held at MOAA’s booth during the Vietnam War Commemoration’s Welcome Home Celebration, which ran May 11-13 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. MOAA’s booth was one among dozens, as veterans service organizations, VA and DoD agencies, and other supporters joined to thank the 7 million Vietnam veterans from around the country and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.


MOAA premiered a 30-minute documentary Return to Hanoi: 50 Years of Freedom at the event May 11. The film features eight prisoners of war (most MOAA members) returning to Vietnam to visit the country where they were once held captive and, in many cases, brutally tortured for years. You can watch their inspirational story below or by clicking this link:



MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret), said it was an honor to attend the 50-year commemoration event and meet with our veterans and their families.


“More than 50 years after the last troops came home, there is still much work to do to support all our Vietnam veterans and their families,” Kelly said. “MOAA will continue to honor your service through our unwavering commitment to advocating on your behalf and protecting the benefits you earned.”  


In addition to thanking our Vietnam veterans for their service during the event, MOAA staff and members discussed important legislation – both successes and ongoing efforts. MOAA discussed how Vietnam veterans could benefit from the PACT and Blue Water Navy acts. Now both law, they benefit millions of veterans exposed to harmful toxins like Agent Orange.



Lt. Col. Gary Palmer, USAF (Ret), left, president of MOAA’s Maryland Council of Chapters, talks with a newly signed-up MOAA member May 12 on the National Mall.


MOAA also sought support for measures like the Major Richard Star Act, which would provide concurrent receipt for combat-wounded veterans, and the Expanding America’s National Cemetery Act (H.R. 1413), which would authorize transforming a VA-run national cemetery into the next location that affords military honors as Arlington National Cemetery reaches capacity.


You can support these causes and more by signing up via MOAA’s Legislative Action Center.  


PREMIUM Membership Comes With So Many Benefits. Are You Taking Full Advantage?

Find out just how many benefits are waiting for you, and start using them TODAY.

Discover More

About the Author

Tony Lombardo
Tony Lombardo

As MOAA's Director of Audience Engagement, Tony Lombardo manages the content team tasked with producing The MOAA Newsletter, editing Military Officer magazine, operating MOAA's social media accounts, and supporting all communications efforts across the association.