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by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer,
Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)
Photo, top: Marine Veterans with Victor and 1957 Willys Jeep
Vietnam Veteran Welcome Home Parade
One last farewell for Marine Combat Veteran Victor Forget, diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, to his home and neighbors in Woonsocket RI.
A Welcome Home he never received since returning from Vietnam a highly decorated veteran.
The 911 Veteran Alert went out early Thursday morning for a Welcome Home Car and Bike Parade. Marine, Army, Navy, and Air Force Veterans came from 3 states, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
Estimated 75 bikes and cars showed with less than 24 notice Thursday night, to Welcome Home Victor Forget, Marine Veteran; Victor is a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran, to include the recipient of 3 Purple Hearts, and still concerning that he didn’t get his 4th one for his last injury in Vietnam.
Unknown to Victor, a recently donated 1957 Willys Jeep to the Italian American War Veterans (ITAM) would be parked in front of his house. The Willy’s Jeep was used by all the armed forces from 1951-1956, and from 1957-1960, exclusively by the Marines.
Victor smiled when the jeep arrived, telling all “…this was the vehicle I learned how to drive—-early on after joining the Marines”. Victor told his son, Michael Forget, Marine Combat Veterans, “ … I crashed a Jeep just like that into the river while serving my country…”
Victor was confused, unknown what would be happening. But his son would be evasive in answering his dad. Father and son had been reunited after several years. Both veterans, but invisible scars of war had separated them for years.
Michael’s older sister, Shannon, contacted him and advised him Dad was not doing well. Michael immediately reconciled with his dad. His dad was on oxygen and the brain cancer he was diagnosed with had whittled him down to less than 100 lbs. Dad had been placed in hospice, and without a miracle, the cancer would kill him.
He knew his dad needed more assistance. Moreover, he was confused why the VA was not doing more, as his dad was a highly decorated Veteran.
Michael always remembers his dad telling him if you ever need any help as a Veteran, to call Father Phil, which he did. Father Phil immediately contacted the Italian American War Veterans.
Within 24 hours, a meeting with Victor, his family, ITAM representative and Father Phil was organized.
Less than a week after his son, Michael Forget, (Veteran himself) contacted Father Phil Salois for assistance for his dad who had a terminal brain cancer diagnosis, the VA would coordinate placement of Victor into a VA contracted private nursing home.
Immediately, the VA ordered a COVID-19 test for Victor; a requirement prior to any nursing home admission of a new patient. The VA would confirm Victor, a 100% service-connected combat disabled Veteran would not have to pay one cent; the VA pays 100% of all nursing home care for Victor. A benefit Victor was unaware of – until Father Phil and a Veterans Service Officer, John Cianci met with him.
Michael wanted to do more for his dad. He knew dad was never Welcomed Home after returning from Vietnam. He reached out to the brotherhood and sisterhood of veterans to use social media to organize a Welcome Home Parade for his dad.
Time was not on Michael’s side, as his dad was expected to be transported the next day to the nursing home. However, time was defeated by the brotherhood and sisterhood of Veterans who answered the call on short notice.
The veterans rallied in the parking lot in front of Ye Old English Fish and Chips in Woonsocket.
Over 50 years after returning from Vietnam War, Victor received his Welcome Home he never had.
Victor will sleep at his home one last night before being transported to a nursing home in Smithfield, Rhode Island, where he is expected to spend his final days. Once again, Agent Orange will kill another Vietnam Veteran. Barring a miracle, Victor has slept his last night in Woonsocket.
Victor might succumb to cancer as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, however, his battle with cancer reunited him with son, Michael. And that was a blessing.
We all pray for Victor, and know he enjoyed the show of support in his Welcome Home Parade.
Semper Fi Victor and – Welcome Home!!!!!!!!!
Editor’s Note: John A. Cianci publishes “RI Veterans: Did you know?” on Thursdays in RINewsToday – look for his weekly column packed with information for veterans.
If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, firstname.lastname@example.org
John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.
Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.
Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.
He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.
Victor thank you for your service. And God bless you .you are im my familys prayers ..Sheila
This was a story that needed to be told. God bless you John for all you and our organization did for our “brother”, but most of all, God bless and be with Victor (a hero of our nation) and grant him happiness and peace in his later years. I am so pleased that he received his “welcome home”.
Thank you for all you did John. You and your organization are unbelievable❤. Michael Forget
We are so proud of John….the best to you and your family.
Thank You Nancy from RINEWSTODAY for your support of Veterans. Without your support, Veterans would continue NOT TO KNOW their many benefits, nor know good stories like Victor’s.
Your work with veterans is phenomenal – we are dedicated to helping as best we can.