Hospice of the Chesapeake will welcome home Vietnam veterans during its fifth annual event.
On March 29, Vietnam veterans, their guests and community members are invited to the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event at the Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Hotel in Linthicum.
“It was so heartfelt,” said Pat Curran, who spent 14 months in Vietnam between 1968 and 1970. “I never let anybody know I was a Vietnam veteran. Now I have my battle ribbon as my license plate.”
Curran has attended the previous four events and plans to attend the fifth one.
“I like meeting fellow veterans,” Curran said. “I really enjoy the pomp and ceremony of it. They honor us. It feels good.”
This year, the theme is “Transformation Through Service.” Speakers include retired Sergeant Major Rodwell Forbes of Fort Meade, Hospice CEO Ben Marcantonio, Vietnam veteran and retired Senator John Astle, National Director of Hospice and Palliative Care for Veterans Affairs Dr. Scott Shreve and many more.
In addition to the speakers, there are a variety of other activities: a performance by the Naval Academy Band, a pinning ceremony, the Vietnam War Memorial Traveling Wall and tables of veteran service organizations. Hot hors d’oeuvres will be provided in the banquet hall.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie. Everybody is enjoying one another; they’re enjoying the event,” said Mary Jermann, the director of volunteer services and chair of the We Honor Veterans Committee at Hospice. “It’s gratitude for one another. The camaraderie is huge. I love that piece of it.”
Curran also noted the camaraderie between the veterans as one of his favorite aspects.
“Senior guys like myself, when they see another fellow wearing a Vietnam hat, we always look up and say, ‘Welcome home,’” Curran said. “During our time, nobody said that. They said rude things to us. It was not good, so we do it now to remind each other that we are, in fact, welcome home now.”
This year, Hospice is hoping to live-stream the group honor salute on its Facebook page, which tentatively takes place around 6:15pm.
In January, Hospice of the Chesapeake announced that its We Honor Veterans program reached Level 5, the highest status in the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. It is one of only nine hospices in the country to achieve this status and the only hospice in the region to do so.
The fifth annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event is on Friday, March 29, at the Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Hotel. Doors open at 4:00pm, and the program begins at 5:30pm. The Naval Academy Band will perform around 5:20pm. To purchase tickets, visit www.hospicechesapeake.org. Vietnam veterans are offered free admission.