Vietnam veterans who died in the years subsequent to the war of Agent Orange and PTSD were remembered at a ceremony at the Kingston Armory on Sunday. A new memorial plaque was unveiled at the county Vietnam War monument.
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein said the day was to pay tribute to those other victims of the war.
“This is not a day in which we celebrate. This is a day in which we remember. This is a day in which we will hold in our hearts forever, and when future generations come to this monument, they will understand this war was much more complex than what they read in the history books,” he said.
“I look at this monument and I see the names of real men, our heroes, people who lost their lives, and I also know there are names that are missing and those names that are missing are those who suffered and died as a result of the war, many of whom still suffer today,” said Ulster County Executive Michael Hein.
“To those service men and women who fought for our nation and stand here today, we owe you a debt of gratitude we could never possibly repay, but this is about making things right with this dedication,” he said.
Congressman Christopher Gibson, a retired career Army officer, told those in attendance that all of his military training, from the time he enlisted at age 17, came from Vietnam veterans. “I would not be the person I am today if it not for the Vietnam veterans.”
Ira Weiner, commander of the Ulster County American Legion and a Vietnam veteran, said the numbers of PTSD victims “are astounding” and he said soldiers were “deceived” about the effects of Agent Orange, a defoliant used to clear out the jungles of Vietnam.
He credited Vietnam War widow Carol Olzanecki for being the “driving force” behind the new monument. Her husband, John, died at age 51 from the effects of Agent Orange.
Family members placed orange roses on the new monument to remember those who have died since the war from the two afflictions.