Iowa Vietnam ‘combat’ veterans to receive commemorative gift

Posted August 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm

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By Julie Ann Madden

Many Vietnam veterans received, at best, a cold shoulder when they returned home some 50 years ago.

Now the Plymouth County Veteran Affairs Commission has a gift for them.

The office has received nearly 400 copies of the Iowa edition of the hardcover book, “Vietnam War 50th Commemoration: A Time To Honor.”

The Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs has raised the funds to pay for the books to distribute free to Vietnam veterans and provided a complement of them for distribution in Plymouth County this month.

However so far, county Veteran Affairs Director Wayne Thieman has only been able to distribute about 50 of them, despite getting word out to various veterans’ groups and other organizations and leaving a copy at several local libraries.

Thieman, and his successor, newly hired Veteran Affairs Director Jim Jones, want to give away all of the books, which are available at the Plymouth County Veteran Affairs Office, located in Le Mars courthouse.

The book and accompanying DVD is published by Remember My Service (RMS), a division of StoryRock Inc. of Salt Lake City, Utah. It contains stories and photos of individual veterans who served in Vietnam.

Funds were raised for the Iowa edition but not enough for all Vietnam-era veterans.

“Here in Plymouth County, the U.S. Census estimates we have 798 Vietnam veterans,” said Thieman, “but the county received a little more than half that number of books. “We’re giving them out to Vietnam veterans who served ‘in country in Vietnam’ or if you’re a Navy veteran who served along the coastal waters of Vietnam or the inland waterways, or an Air Force veteran who flew in and out of Vietnam on mission; or if you were in Thailand supporting the troops in Vietnam.”

“Once we get through that, we’ll open it up to any Vietnam-era veteran,” said Thieman. “We still have 375 books.”

Any Vietnam veteran interested in getting a book may call the Plymouth County Veteran Affairs Office at 712-546-7090 or stop by the office, which is on the second floor of the Plymouth County Courthouse, right near the elevator.

“You don’t need an appointment,” said Thieman. “Just walk in. “You will need a copy of your DD214 (Discharge) Form. “Family can pick up a book for grandpa, dad or mom who served in Vietnam — just bring their DD214.”

Distributing the books also provides the county’s Veteran Affairs director an opportunity to make contact with Vietnam veterans to serve them, he said.

“That’s the big thing,” said Thieman. “We’ve seen a number of Vietnam vets who’ve come in to get a book who have never been to our office. Now we have made appointments with those guys. Some of them have medical conditions from exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange that they didn’t even know they could get compensation for.”

“If I could just get more of those guys to come in,” he said, “because there’s compensation available for them and their families, and they just don’t know about it.”

“That’s part of the whole point behind the project,” agreed Iowa Commission of Veterans Affiars Chairman Dan Gannon. “Part of it is recognizing the 50th anniversary of Vietnam but the other part is outreach. County Veteran Affairs directors get to help Vietnam veterans they may not have seen before.”

In Plymouth County, veterans will also get to meet Thieman’s replacement, Jim Jones, a 30-year Navy Command Master Chief veteran.

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