iStock Photo

iStock Photo

Bill Staton recalls his flight touching down in the United States following a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam and hearing the pilot announce over the intercom: “It has been an honor to bring you home.” Like thousands of his fellow servicemen and women returning home from the bitterly divisive war, the 20-year-old Staton soon found himself confronting a number of challenges – including depression, insomnia, and a profound sense of alienation that many veterans continue to struggle with 50 years later. “Those were the last kind words that I heard a stranger say for many years,” he says.

AARP Hawaii and veteran service organizations will host an event honoring Vietnam War veterans and all veterans at the Puunene Armory in Kihei on Tuesday, May 24 (5 – 7 p.m.). Titled “Maui Welcomes Home Her Vietnam Vets and Honors All Veterans,” the event will raise awareness of the daily challenges and lifetime achievements of Maui’s Vietnam veterans, and connect all veterans to resources that can help.

“So many veterans of America’s armed conflicts struggle silently with their experiences,” says Staton. “Many don’t apply for the benefits they are due, even though they need them. We want to thank all of these veterans and share a little bit of their story.”

The event is supported by the Maui County Veterans Council, Vietnam Veterans of Maui County, Disabled American Veterans, and Concerned American Veterans, and includes food, films, door prizes, resource tables and more. Registration required.

The event also includes an Insight Panel of veterans and health professionals, including Bo Mahoe, U.S Army; Mitch Skaggerberg, U.S. Army; Kathy Hass, Navy Captain, USNR, retired; and Dr. Kathleen McNamara.