A committee made up of local Veterans, the Veterans’ Service Officers from Melrose, Saugus and Wakefield and other supporters are in the process of planning a trip to Washington, D.C., for approximately 45 Vietnam Era Veterans. The five-day, four-night coach bus trip will be held from September 11–15, 2022. This is an all-expenses-paid trip for Vietnam Era Veterans from Melrose, Saugus and Wakefield and will include wreath-laying ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as other stops in the D.C. area. All attendees will be staying at The Presidential Inn at Joint Base Andrews.
Members of the organizing committee have planned similar trips for Veterans groups of different eras in the past and have chosen to focus on Vietnam Era Veterans for this trip. Many of our Veterans have never had the opportunity to travel to our nation’s capital to visit the impressive memorials and other historic sites in which we, as Americans, take so much pride. Unfortunately, many of our Vietnam Era Veterans have never received the proper “Welcome Home” and “Thank You” that they earned and so richly deserve. This trip is one step in providing this recognition and appreciation to our local Vietnam Era Veterans.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), nine million Americans served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the period of the Vietnam War. It is estimated that there are more than six million Vietnam Veterans living in America and abroad. For the purposes of this trip, in keeping with guidance from the Department of Defense, the organizers will make no distinction between Veterans who served in-country, in-theater or who were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve; none could self-determine where they were stationed, and many were seen in the same way by a country that could not separate the war from the warrior, as we do today.
Vietnam Era Veterans who are interested in applying for the trip, or who would like to obtain additional information about the trip, are asked to contact their local Veterans’ Service Officer. Applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Applications cannot be accepted unless they include the following documentation:
- Copy of DD-214
- Copy of COVID-19 Vaccination Card (vaccines and booster are required)
- Copy of current/valid picture ID/Driver’s License (front & back)
- Completed CORI Form
(Please note that some of these documents are required in order to enter and stay on Joint Base Andrews.)
The organizing committee is making every effort to minimize the costs of running this trip and would welcome monetary donations of any size in order to defray the trip expenses. We are actively partnering with military and Veterans organizations, as well as local and Washington, D.C.-based businesses, including WIN Waste Innovations, GLSS and General Electric. Please contact the local Veterans’ Services Office for additional information on donating to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our Vietnam Era Veterans.
Editor’s Note: Jay Pinette, of Wakefield, is the Veterans’ Service Officer for the Town of Saugus. Pinette is a veteran of the U.S. Marines, having served from 1973-1976 and as a reservist from 1976 through 1996. He was activated for service during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He served as an Operations/Communications Chief and was responsible for the leadership and management of Marines who served in a variety of technical and combat support roles. Pinette retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant in 1996.