Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q&A with Mike Montgomery; Vietnam Veterans Sought for New Support Association

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q&A with Mike Montgomery; Vietnam Veterans Sought for New Support Association

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

Jacksonville's first Vietnam Veterans of America chapter was chartered in November. Chapter 1046 is part of a national association that has 630 chapters, according to its website.

Chapter members meet at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at American Legion Post 88 at 3662 Spring Park Road. Members come from Southside, Mandarin, Westside and the Beaches.

Mike Montgomery, chapter president, is the subject of this week's Q&A. Other officers include: Tony D'Aleo, vice president; Rich Allen, secretary; and Jim Collier, treasurer.

For more information, e-mail vietnamveteranschapter1046@gmail.com or call 904-419-8821.

Any idea how many Vietnam veterans there are in Jacksonville?

I couldn't tell you how many, but there's a bunch. When many retired from the military, they moved here.

Is there a feeling that Vietnam vets did not get the support that other war veterans got when they returned home?

They were basically the lost generation. They were shunted aside. Many were homeless and faced medical issues. The Vietnam Veterans of America chapters have adopted the motto that "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another." We are here to help these guys, to see them through their pain and to get recognition for them.

Why do you think they haven't gotten that recognition?

It was a different type of war than World War II and Korea. We knew who the enemy was, and in Vietnam, we didn't always know. The public didn't understand what those guys went through, and I don't think anybody really understood that war. It was the first war that was on TV all the time, and the public could see how dreadful war can be. Basically, we're doing the same thing today in Afghanistan and Libya, but it's more acceptable than back in the '60s.

Describe the need for a chapter?

We want to promote a full range of issues that are important to the Vietnam vet. We also want to help vets who are incarcerated or homeless. …

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