ONEONTA — Most area veterans interviewed Sunday said their country is doing a good job honoring those who have served in the military. Many noted that wasn’t always the case.
Veterans shared their thoughts during a 12:30 p.m. open house at the Oneonta Vets Club following Veterans Day ceremonies at Neahwa Park.
Oneonta American Legion Commander Len Carson said the turnout of about 70 people at the ceremony was a “pretty good showing.”
A lot of people think of the day as a time to remember those that have died, he said, but that is what Memorial Day is for.
Instead, “it’s a great opportunity for civilians to thank their local vets,” Carson said.
With the recent end of the war in Iraq and winding down of involvement in Afghanistan, there are a lot of veterans coming into communities nationwide. While Carson said he doesn’t know how many there are in the Oneonta area until they come forward, “Our doors are always open.”
The challenges they face include homelessness, he said. This is one of the issues that the Legion national commander has tried to raise awareness about. It could be among the topics that the state commander will discuss when he comes to the Oneonta Vets Club later this week.
Tim O’Donnell, 63, of East Meredith, served in the 23rd Infantry Division of the Army from 1969-71, including time in Vietnam.
“The day is a lot about respect and hanging out with your brothers — people who appreciate you,” he said. The country is doing a better job in showing their support when servicemen and women return, he said. When he came home, “I was spit on.”
The situation started to change with the Desert Storm operation that liberated Kuwait in the 1990s. “People appreciated that,” and eventually turned their attention to those who served in other wars.