By David Sedeño
The Texas Catholic
RICHARDSON—When he returned from Vietnam in 1969, U.S. Army First Lt. Marvin Thedford had a difficult time adjusting to civilian life.
The place where he worked as a 30-year-old didn’t appreciate his desire for order and structure and being a Vietnam vet didn’t seem to gain him much respect either. He eventually was able to talk about his days in artillery, not in a chair across from a counselor, but across the table with men like him at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3530 in Richardson.
“When I came home, nobody wanted to talk about Vietnam,” he said. “When I walked through the Tacoma airport in Washington state, I was spit on and called a baby killer and all this other stuff. I was ostracized at work. I was told I was giving orders, instead of asking people to do something.
“Joining this post has allowed me to discuss…my kiddos don’t even know what I went through, but these guys here allowed me to talk freely of what I went through without having to explain every step of the way.
“They understand what we went through. It gives me a home,” he said. Once a month, a few dozen men who served in the military during the Korean War and Vietnam gather in a room at St. Luke Lutheran Church to not only share true “war stories,” but to find ways to give back to the community.
There are approximately 50 members of this post, one of thou- sands of VFW posts whose members must have served in a foreign land during a military conflict. Popular among servicemen after World War II, membership in VFW posts beyond Vietnam veterans has dwindled in
the recent past. VFW Post 3530 has not had a World War II veteran in quite some time as the number of World War II veterans, advancing in age, now numbers about 400,000 nationwide.
Post Commander Ralph Rizzo said that membership for many of the men—not many women have joined—has allowed them to better access veterans’ benefits they may not have known about.
Nationally, the VFW also sponsors an essay contest for students in various grades, with a different theme each year. Local winners advance to regional, state and national com- petitions with scholarship monies increasing at each level.
Members of this VFW Post 3530 are among many veterans who participate in the annual Veteran’s Day Parade at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and School on Nov. 11. The veterans are saluted at a ceremony inside the gym, listen to the essays written by students and then share their stories with students, staff, faculty and parents who look at photos, displays or just spend time talking with them.
The 21st annual Veteran’s Day Parade in Richardson begins at 9 a.m. at 900 Saint Paul Drive and ends at the school. All veterans are invited to join in the parade and program.
For more information on the parade and how to participate, contact St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School Marketing Director Amie Hinderliter at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the parish at 972-235-6105.