Vietnam Vets Help Next Generation

By: Narina Crain
By: Narina Crain

Vietnam veterans in northern Illinois are keeping a close eye on the situation in Iraq. Much like the Vietnam War, it doesn't have the support of many American citizens. But these veterans say as long as they're around, the veterans coming out of Iraq will be taken care of.

"We're all concerned about the Iraqi veterans, that they're not going to get the short end of the stick like we did," said Nick Parnello, Vietnow founder and Vietnam Honor Society president.

A few years ago veterans had to wait up to a year to get into Rockford's VA Clinic for routine visits. Now the government is giving additional funding for more staff. Vietnam veterans say it's much better than when they returned from war. The VA didn't exist back then.

"It seems like once they're done with us, they're done with us. Let's hope the trend keeps turning, there's more funding from the state," Parnello said.

"A lot of the assistance we have now was not available at that time. With that in mind they really have put forth an effort to take care of the new veterans," said Cheryl Mani, nurse manager of the Rockford VA Clinic.

When doctors and nurses can't help, Vietnam veterans are willing to listen to the soldiers coming home from overseas.

"There's a lot of people who have been through what they've been through and they've got someone they can talk to that understands what they mean," said Joe Falzone, a Vietnam veteran.

One of those people is Jack Snyder. He gave up a career in civil engineering to find jobs for veterans in Rockford.

"I began to realize my fellow veterans needed all the help they could get, and the money didn't mean much to me, and I said I owe my fellow veterans something," Jack Snyder said.

Snyder is considered a 100 percent disabled veteran. He was shot in the head and knee in the Vietnam War. But he continues to spend every day assisting other veterans. He says we owe it to those who defend our freedom.


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