By Spc. Amanda McBride, 4th IBCT, 3rd ID Public AffairsMay 29, 2009
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Appreciation toward Soldiers of today's Army is illustrated on a daily basis. Whether rendering a handshake at the airport or just saying 'thank you' to troops at the post office, respect and support for Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom veterans is ever present.
Unfortunately, Vietnam-era and other past-war veterans can contest the nation's support has not always been so eminent.
"I can't imagine how it would feel to go fight for your country and come back and have people disrespect you," said Spc. Aaron Dermon, Company B, 4th Infantry Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "It's a horrible thing that happened back then and another reason why we should thank our Vietnam veterans today."
Specialist Dermon and Soldiers of the 4th IBCT, along with elements of the 3rd ID Band, showed their support and appreciation for former servicemembers by visiting veterans hospitalized at the Carl Vinson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dublin, Ga., May 20.
The Division Band kicked off the visit with a concert, playing a mixture of patriotic, soul and reggae tunes. Following the concert, Vanguard Soldiers showcased historic and modern-day weapons, military equipment, and vehicles, providing the disabled veterans an opportunity to see how the Army has changed over the years.
"I got to see the (M240B machine gun), which was a fascinating weapon," said disabled Navy veteran Milton J. Garlock, who added the upgraded weapons systems are essential for today's troops.
Garlock said the static display and concert were most enjoyable, especially for those residents of the VA Medical Center who can't get out much due to physical limitations.
"We have a lot of veterans here that really can't do anything because of their wounds," Garlock said. "(Some veterans) are to the point where they're pretty much a vegetable, but even still, you can see the spark in their eyes when Soldiers come up to them and talk to them."
Specialist Dermon said he too enjoyed the day, which provided him the opportunity to thank veterans for their service and sacrifice.
"For a long time I have had an incredible amount of respect for (veterans) and what they've done for me and this country," Spc. Dermon said. "I always like to listen to all their stories (of their time in service) and just let them know that they are appreciated. Anytime I get a chance to thank them, I like to take that opportunity.
Specialist Dermon said today's troops and the hospitalized veterans share common ground.
"One day a lot of us will be in a similar situation," he said. "This visit is all about saying 'thank you' to the veterans and letting them know there are definitely people who still care about what they did and also what they are doing right now."