Michigan teen raises money to bring Vietnam veterans to Washington, D.C.

Published: Jun. 18, 2022 at 7:28 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - 17-year-old Alice Kraatz raised more than $140,000 to bring Vietnam veterans to Washington, D.C. aboard an Honor Flight.

More than 80 Michigan veterans attended on Saturday. Kraatz expressed appreciation for their service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Kraatz said, “So many Vietnam veterans, after over 50 years, have never once been told Welcome home or thank you. And it’s it’s just awful. They’ve been shunned and rejected for most of their lives.”

Dennis Jones, one of the Vietnam veterans aboard the flight, said the experience was much more emotional than he was expecting.

“They’ve taken a nation of people and practically and healed, you know, some percentage of it by allowing them to come here and do this,” Jones said. “That was very refreshing to have people actually welcoming us back home after we had to put up with during in the war.”

Kraatz said she raised the money for the flight by selling POW/MIA bracelets. She started her fundraising at 14 years old, secured the money for the flight within a year, but had to wait because Covid delayed the flight until this weekend.

The veterans returning from Vietnam did not receive the same kind of homecoming that was given to veterans of previous generations and, in too many cases, our Vietnam veterans experienced rejection and anger,” said Bobbie Bradley, the Chief Operating Officer of the Honor Flight Network. “We can’t change what happened half-a-century ago, but we can do something about the present. As long as there are Vietnam veterans among us, it is not too late to thank them.”

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