May 24, 2004
HOUSTON, TX - A special flag ceremony has helped a group of Vietnam veterans cope with their memories and at the same time, demonstrate their support for our nation's combat soldiers.
At the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC), a group of Vietnam veterans have formed an alumni group through the facility's Trauma Recovery Program (TRP). The TRP is designed to provide comprehensive treatment to veterans with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress or a related disorder. When the war in Iraq began, these veterans came together to share their concerns and feelings for the young men and women now serving our country overseas.
Veteran Billy Lockett was especially concerned because his son was stationed in Iraq. As he shared his feelings and those of his son with the group, a sense of pride and honor filled the room as each veteran remembered his own service to our country. Another veteran, Bruce Lockett, expressed his desire to do something to let the soldiers overseas know there was support and encouragement for the mission the new generation now faced. There was much discussion on how they could accomplish this as a group.
"We, as Vietnam combat veterans, wanted the active duty soldiers to know that a part of us was there with them," said Bruce Lockett. While Bruce Lockett and Billy Lockett are not related, the two veterans consider themselves brothers because of their similar experiences in Vietnam.
"It is very important to our group that these young people know that we are here, supporting, encouraging, and praying for them, from one veteran era to another," said Billy Lockett.
Last October, the group decided to perform a special flag ceremony and send the flag to Billy's son in Baghdad. They hoped the young soldier and his comrades would see the flag as a symbol of the support, love, and encouragement, not from a small group of veterans in Texas, but from fellow soldiers.
"We want them to know that we are there in spirit, in battle with them, always here to support them," said Bruce Lockett.
"The flag ceremony and all it represents is a memory that will last with us forever," said Billy Lockett. "Once a comrade, always a comrade."
Billy's son received the flag in early January 2004. He wrote his dad telling him how happy, excited, and encouraged he and his fellow soldiers were to have received it. "That is something he will always treasure," said his father.
When Billy's son returns home, these Vietnam veterans have vowed to be the first to welcome him home. They want to make sure that he and the other soldiers returning home are greeted as the heroes they are, and not forgotten for the sacrifices they made for their country.
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Point of Contact: VHAHOU Public Affairs05/24/04 09:12