Veterans of World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, Gulf War and present day wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were all honored during the 15th annual Veterans Day Program hosted by the Valparaiso Rotary Club Monday at Strongbow Inn.
The program’s origin came from John Wolf, a veteran of World War II who served as a Chaplain in the Navy. He said the program has gotten “bigger and bigger” every year.
In the Navy, Wolf would often work with American fighters who needed medical attention. He said the toughest battles were in the Pacific Theatre: Saipan and Iwo Jima.
“There were lots of casualties in the Pacific,” he said. “A lot needed the medical attention.”
According to United States Congressman Pete Visclosky, one of the men who may have needed Wolf’s assistance during the War was his father - who will turn 98 years old next month.
Having a family member who served in the conflict, as well as being a member of the Defense Subcommittee, Veterans Day has always been a time of personal reflection for the congressman.
“Veterans Day makes you think about all the veterans who gave their years to this country for our liberties,” Visclosky said.
“It is a special honor to be here with John,” he added. “Nowadays it is more important than ever to address some of the problems associated with coming back from war - including suicide and post-traumatic stress.”
During a media session prior to Monday’s Rotary program, Wolf had asked Visclosky about the possibility of creating a Veteran’s Hospital in Northwest Indiana.
“While we know that is a continued need, we won’t see a Veteran’s Hospital in the area in the near future,” Visclosky said - pointing out the nearest such facility is in Chicago.
The congressman did mention that “a better job” has already been done on improving physical and mental health care for those who have served. Funding has increased for such causes on a federal level in recent years.
At the start of Monday’s program, Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas led the group in a prayer, saying that he is “deeply grateful” for all that veterans have done for everyone over the years.
The Valparaiso High School band was on hand to play patriotic tunes and “Taps” toward the conclusion of the ceremony. Band director Miguel E. Rosario-Vega was recognized by the rotarians before he, too, expressed his gratitude.