Governor Bruce Rauner today joined the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) to honor veterans of the Vietnam War and give them a proper welcome home.
“I am proud to welcome our Vietnam War heroes home. They stood up for democracy and freedom and represented our nation with courage and honor during the war,” Rauner said. “We can never forget their sacrifice. They fought for us and we will keep fighting for them, every day – making sure they have the support they need, the care they need, the services they need.”
Rauner addressed veterans and their loved ones as the keynote speaker during a ceremony at the University of Illinois in Springfield, noting their selfless contributions to the state, the country and the world. The ceremony was part of the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration program, which was initiated by Congress in 2012 to recognize the service of Vietnam War veterans and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war each year, until 2025.
“Our heroes did not get the welcome they deserved when they came back from the Vietnam war,” IDVA Director Erica Jeffries said. “This is our opportunity to do that, to let them know how much we appreciate them, and value the sacrifices they made for our country. They came home and kept fighting for us, helping build the America that we love and cherish. So today, and every day, we say, ‘Welcome home’ to each of them.”
All veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Services between November 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975, are being honored as part of the ongoing commemoration program. Each of them who attended the ceremony received a 50-year commemoration pin.
Illinois has the tenth largest veteran population in the country, with more than 724,000 veterans who call the state home. More than a third of them served during the Vietnam War.