LINCOLN, NE – Today, Governor Jim Pillen, alongside Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA) Director John Hilgert and Nebraska National Guard Adjutant General Major General Daryl Bohac, honored Vietnam veterans in a ceremony at the Nebraska State Capitol.
“Meeting with Nebraska veterans to thank them for their service is so important,” said Governor Pillen. “Nebraska has built a reputation of caring for our veterans, military service members, and their families. I intend to continue that tradition and build on the work we’ve done.”
Over 100 Vietnam veterans attended the ceremony which included the presentation of lapel pins to veterans as well as surviving spouses of deceased Vietnam veterans. Lapel pins and materials were provided as part of the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration, a national initiative designed for federal, state, and local communities, veterans’ organizations, and other nongovernmental organizations to assist in thanking and honoring our nation’s Vietnam veterans and their families. NDVA is an official commemorative partner.
“I want to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of our state’s Vietnam veterans, many of whom did not receive the welcome home they deserved when they returned,” said NDVA Director Hilgert. “Our agency is here to recognize and honor your service as well connect you with the benefits you’ve earned. With the recent PACT Act changes, I encourage our state’s Vietnam veterans or surviving spouses to contact your county veteran service officer or our state service office at 402-420-4021 to see if we can connect you with new or expanded benefits.”
Hilgert shared his story about wearing his uniform.
“It remains important that we recognize the sacrifices and the burdens our Vietnam era veterans bear,” said Major General Bohac. “For those of us who followed them in the armed forces, we owe a debt of gratitude for reminding our nation, our state, and fellow citizens of what they gave up. Today, we can’t appear in public in uniform without someone thanking us for our service, thanks which we must never take for granted. That is largely due to our comrades from the Vietnam era who ultimately led our nation in coming to terms with how they were treated when coming home.”
In addition to the presentation of Vietnam War lapel pins, Governor Pillen signed a proclamation recognizing March 29th as Vietnam War Veterans Day in the state of Nebraska. In 2017, March 29th was chosen to be observed in perpetuity as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The date was selected because March 29, 1973, was the date that the last U.S. combat troops departed Vietnam.
Nebraska is currently home to around 35,000 Vietnam Era veterans according to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics.