Representatives from five of the major U.S. veterans groups met for more than an hour March 4 with Representative Beverly B. Byron, D-6th, to discuss the return from war of the newest group of American veterans and the role that other veterans might play as Desert Storm troops begin arriving home.
Byron said she called the meeting because she felt the stunning success of the coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War and the tremendous public support for the U.S. effort there "gives us the opportunity to acknowledge all our veterans, particularly our Vietnam vets who never received the kind of welcome home they deserved.
"I'm looking for ideas on how to productively involve them in thethousands of ceremonies that will honor the troops when they come back from the gulf," she said.
The organizations represented at the meeting in Byron's Capitol Hill office were the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion and AMVETS.
Byron said she frequently heard veterans talking about "separating the war from the warrior."
"That won't happen with those who served in the gulf war because it doesn't need to for obvious reasons," she said. "But the soldiers who fought in Vietnam need to be separated from their war, and I think we've all been reminded over the last few months that it is soldiers who fight wars, that it is soldiers who leave their homes, leave their families and leave their communities.
"Some don't return, and it's aterrible tragedy no matter where the war is fought or what for."
Another meeting with Byron and the participating organizations is planned for more formal discussions on ideas gathered by the veterans groups.
WAR IN THE GULF