As I read of the funeral and tributes for the service of Command Sergeant Major Basil Plumbley, a three-war infantryman (one of only 324) who was portrayed by Sam Elliott in the movie "We Were Soldiers Once and Young" staring Mel Gibson, my thoughts went out to my fellow Vietnam veterans.
I am mindful as well that this is the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. As we approach Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, I think it is appropriate to give thanks on a number of fronts:
First thanks to our veterans for their service, and thanks to the Utah Legislature and Gov. Gary Herbert for their approval and support for the Veterans Reintegration Task Force (ably led by Sen. Pete Knudson and Rep. Paul Ray) to look at the challenges and struggles facing our recently separated service members and veterans. The Task Force is the most comprehensive look at military and veterans issues in more than 50 years and underscores the commitment of our elected officials to address these issues.
My thanks as well to the business community, the Chambers of Commerce in Salt Lake City and Northern Utah for their strong support of our Veterans and Military Employment Coalition to assist guardsmen, reservists and veterans in obtaining meaningful employment.
Many of my fellow Vietnam veterans and current conflict veterans suffer from post-tramatic stress disorder, and I am especially grateful for Herbert and Utah's congressional delegation (led by Rep. Rob Bishop) in writing a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki requesting a veterans center to be located in Ogden.
We currently have centers in Salt Lake City, Provo and St. George. Northern Utah, with more than 40,000 veterans, is in urgent need of a center to provide mental health counseling to these combat veterans.
An item of note for our veterans: At our Veterans Day Program at the State Capitol on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., we will recognize Vietnam veterans and have a small gift for each and will note the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Herbert and Don Gale will offer remarks.
Thanks to all who say, "Thank you," to our veterans and to those listed above who offer such strong support to our Veterans.
Terry Schow is the executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans.