Letter to the Editor: Honoring Vietnam Veterans and their Families - Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
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Letter to the Editor: Honoring Vietnam Veterans and their Families

March 18, 2016

By Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS

In 2008, the Secretary of Defense was authorized by law to conduct a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.  The inaugural event occurred at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, commonly known as “The Wall,” in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day, 2012.  The President was the keynote speaker, and this groundbreaking event was attended by senior military and civilian leaders, but most importantly … thousands of Vietnam Veterans and their families.

Since that time, more than 8,000 local, state and federal organizations across the country have become Commemorative Partners to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War and to recognize the service and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and their loved ones.  As a commemorative partner, the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System will be hosting events in 2016 and 2017 to thank and honor Vietnam Veterans and their families.

Our first event will take place on Tuesday, March 29, as we unveil a commemorative wall display at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.  This activity will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the history hallway located on the first floor of the main medical center building (building 100).  Following the event, Vietnam Veterans may receive a small, complimentary cup of coffee by visiting Patriot Brew (coffee shop) located in building 100; Patriot Café located in building 1; or the Patriot Brew located at the Lee County Healthcare Center in Cape Coral, Fla.

Our second event will take place on Tuesday, April 5, as we hold a large ceremony at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in the courtyard located between buildings 2 and 37.   The ceremony will start at 10:00 a.m.   The event will recognize the service of Vietnam War Veterans and each Vietnam Veteran will receive a special lapel pin.  Keynote speaker for the event will be U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. (ret.) and Medal of Honor recipient Gary L. Littrell.  U.S. Rep. David W. Jolly, 13th Congressional District of Florida, will also provide remarks during the ceremony.  News Channel 8 Chief Meteorologist Steve Jerve will serve as master of ceremonies.  More information about the ceremony is available at:  www.baypines.va.gov/pressreleases/20160310.asp.  

I invite Veterans, their family members and friends, Veteran advocates and members of the community to join us for both events as we thank and recognize Vietnam Veterans.  The Commemoration’s cause is indeed noble and thanking and honoring these heroes and their families is the right thing to do.

About the Author
Suzanne M. Klinker was appointed as the Director of the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in May 2012.  With dedication to the organization’s I CARE values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence, she oversees health care delivery for the entire organization which includes one large medical center, eight outpatient clinics and 4,100 employees.  In 2015, the healthcare system treated more than 108,000 Veterans and completed 1.4 million appointments.