“Welcome Home” for Maui Vietnam Veterans Planned at Puʻunēnē Armory

May 13, 2016, 4:08 PM HST · Updated May 13, 4:11 PM
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3/29/16. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Service members stand in front of a display with photos of the fallen Maui veterans from Vietnam. Photo (3.29.16) by Wendy Osher.

An upcoming Maui event is organized to pay tribute to the Maui Veterans of Vietnam, and will also honor all veterans in attendance.

The Welcome Home celebration, planned for Tuesday, May 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Puʻunēnē Armory, shines a light on both the challenges and accomplishments of veterans.

Maui resident and veteran, Bill Staton recalls his flight touching down in the United States following a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam and hearing the pilot announce over the intercom: “It has been an honor to bring you home.”

Like thousands of his fellow servicemen and women returning home from the bitterly divisive war, the 20-year-old Staton soon found himself confronting a number of challenges – including depression, insomnia, and a profound sense of alienation that many veterans continue to struggle with 50 years later.  “Those were the last kind words that I heard a stranger say for many years,” said Staton.

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AARP Hawaiʻi and veteran service organizations will host the event titled “Maui Welcomes Home Her Vietnam Vets and Honors All Veterans.” Event organizers say they hope to raise awareness of the daily challenges and lifetime achievements of Maui’s Vietnam veterans, and connect all veterans to resources that can help.

“So many veterans of America’s armed conflicts struggle silently with their experiences,” says Staton.  “Many don’t apply for the benefits they are due, even though they need them. We want to thank all of these veterans and share a little bit of their story,” he said.

The event is also supported by the Maui County Veterans Council, Vietnam Veterans of Maui County, Disabled American Veterans, and Concerned American Veterans.

Vietnam Veterans in attendance will be honored with the gift of a special Commemorative Pin.

The event also includes an Insight Panel of veterans and health professionals, including Bo Mahoe, US Army; Mitch Skaggerberg, US Army; Kathy Hass, Navy Captain, USNR, retired; and Dr. Kathleen McNamara.

There will also be food, film clips, door prizes, resource tables and more. The public is asked to register online via an event page set up by the local chapter of AARP, or by calling toll-free 1-877-926-8300.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization with more than 150,000 members in Hawaiʻi, and addresses issues critical to people over the age of 50 and their families.

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