A few years ago, Mike Jamrog and Keith Markstrom were at the Stein Haus talking about the problems military veterans face when they come home.
It’s a problem they know well. Jamrog, who retired from McLaren Bay Region, served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971 with service in Vietnam. Markstrom, who retired from the Bay Medical Foundation, was in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1972, also serving in Vietnam.
Vietnam-era veterans came home to a rapidly-changing America. Some faced scorn from people protesting America’s involvement in the war. Young veterans weren’t always accepted by veterans of earlier wars. Emotional and physical injuries added to the difficulty.
“We wanted to make sure that never happens again and one of the ways to do that is to have something for these guys coming home from the service, something for them to do, some place to go,” Jamrog recalls.
While today’s veterans coming home from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf aren’t likely to face jeers from antiwar activists, transitioning from military service to a civilian lifestyle always brings challenges. Veterans organizations fill some of the gaps, but they can’t do it all and aren’t right for everyone.
“The only thing you want to do when you’re getting out of the military is to come home to what you left,” Jamrog says. “You don’t realize that can never happen because you’ve changed, your friends have changed, your community has changed.”
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