Veteran Stand Down Success Story
11/13/2012 (Updated 11:03:10 PM)For soldiers who survived the Vietnam War, their homecoming wasn't always an event that paid tribute to their sacrifices and respect for their efforts.
For one Vietnam Veteran, he said he now feels what was lacking when he first came home.
When Dario Schiappa came home from the Vietnam War, his homecoming was less than welcoming.
Schiappa said when he landed in the airport in New York City, a soldier told him to change out of his uniform because there was a demonstration that was attacking soldiers returning from Vietnam.
Schiappa said he was unable to find a job because he was a Vietnam Veteran. "I kind of turned my back on society for a long time. I through some difficult situations with my lifestyle," said Schiappa.
But, had he not happened to drive by the American Legion Post 1645 three years ago and saw the Vet Center out front, Schiappa said he would not be the man he is today.
He was able to talk to a counselor about what he's been dealing with for the last thirty years. Schiappa said he continues to go to therapy regularly.
"It's completely changed my life and I'm just glad it happened at all," said Schiappa.
Schiappa is just one of the success stories from Binghamton's annual Stand Down. He was one of two veterans recognized Tuesday and given a Quilt of Valor.
Stand Down's began in 1988 in San Diego, CA by Vietnam Veterans to make critical services more accessible and to eliminate any barriers the Homeless Veterans were facing at that time.
Since then, Stand Downs have blossomed throughout the country, including Binghamton.
Tuesday was Binghamton's Veteran Stand Down third year.
According to organizers, this year's Stand Down has doubled in size by accommodating more than 40 local and national organizations assisting veterans.
"We have a lot of guys and girls coming back. They're having troubles adjusting back to society from a military lifestyle and a lot of those include trying to find a job, co-existing with family, and trying to function on a daily basis. Every organization that is here today is designed to help with many of those aspects," said Binghamton Vet Center Office Manager Jason Davis.
Vietnam Veteran Chuck Garrison said he wishes there was something available to him like this when he returned from war.
"I couldn't even get a job driving a fork lift, and here I'd spent a year driving a tank through the jungle and mud and rice patties. It was just like, be quiet, collect your unemployment, and get out of here," said Garrison.
But, if history repeats itself, as it always has, the Stand Down is ready to ease the pain and smooth the adjustments for new generations of those who will be called to defend the nation, and those waiting at home.
"We need to be doing what we're doing and unfortunately it's going to have to go one for quite some time and they're going to need our help just so they can get by like I did," said Schiappa.
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