By Tom Kowalski
On March 29th, 1973, the United States withdrew all combat troops from Vietnam, ending America’s direct involvement.
50 years later, veterans of the war gathered to commemorate those who are still with us, and remember those who have been lost.
“It’s a long time ago seems,” said Vietnam Veteran Kenneth Kensill. “We lost a lot of people, a lot of friends. And we remember them after 50 years. Of course, we do. And we’ll [remember them for] as long as we can.”
Veterans past, present, and future met at the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home to honor those who are still living to fight another day. They then gathered at the Erie County Veteran’s Memorial Park to remember soldiers who are no longer with us.
Former General Mike Dunlavey encourages those who fought in Vietnam to use the VA Hospital to keep an eye on potential illnesses.
“We suffer from an inordinate number of cancers and other maladies that I’ve encouraged the people here to go check, get checked at the VA, and get the services and treatment that they need,” said Dunlavey.
Others are also concerned about mental health among veterans.
“PTSD, it’s a big thing,” said Kensill. “And the suicide rate is sky high. It’s 20%, which is a lot. But it’s being worked on.”