It’s Up to All of Us: Welcome Them Home

As we pass the 20-year mark since the horror of September 11, 2001, we pause to honor the memory of all the Americans who perished in terror visited on those in New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. We also honor those who rushed into the face of danger to save those who could be saved and comfort the families of the fallen. But let us not forget the selfless thousands of Americans, volunteers all, who put on the uniform to confront the threat that would continue to this day.

“…our challenge is to welcome [and support] them as they make the difficult transition into civilian life.”

Confronting the faces of terror across the globe for 20 years, hundreds of thousands wore the uniform of our country and served us well. Many have come home, and our challenge is to welcome them as they make the difficult transition into civilian life. Our mission is to support them as they rejoin their families and their community and embark on careers in a world, they left years before.

In 2016, Vantage Point Foundation was born to support that transition. As one who was involved in standing up VPF, I had to answer the question: “WHY?” Why the need for a Vantage Point? It’s about coming home! It’s about how we honor those who served and support them so they can truly “come home” and set aside the wounds of war.

For me, the challenge of our men and women coming home after service in Iraq, Afghanistan and other deployments across the globe, connect in many ways to the experience of those returning from Vietnam. I have reflected on my 1967 experience many times, to provide a “WHY?” to the need for Vantage Point.

                         Chuck Atkins, United States Marine Corps 1966-1968, in Vietnam

After a short taxi on a dark runway, we deplaned and saw the land we left over a year before to fight a war. I tossed my sea bag over my shoulder and walked off the tarmac, alone into the darkness. No crowds, no bands, no signs, no hands to shake–just the night. I’m on my own now. Welcome home, Marine!

“I tossed my sea bag over my shoulder and walked off… alone into the darkness”

Vantage Point is quite simply a group of dedicated staff, mentors, and community partners who won’t let those who served come home and walk into the darkness alone.  As we remember those who perished in the horror 20 years ago and others who rushed in in the face of danger, let us not forget the thousands who answered the call to keep us safe no matter the sacrifice. The “WHY?” for Vantage Point is: never let those that served us in uniform walk alone into the darkness but rather truly come home. 

Thank you,

Chuck Atkins