Vietnam veteran shares wisdom, experience in his work helping fellow vets | Michigan Radio
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Vietnam veteran shares wisdom, experience in his work helping fellow vets

Nov 5, 2019

With Veterans Day right around the corner, organizations nationwide are putting extra focus on our country’s service members and veterans.

On Wednesday night, the Fisher House Michigan will welcome veterans on stage to share their stories from World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, and other deployments. It's the organization's annual Stories of Service event. 

Tyrone Chatman will be among those featured veterans. He served in the Vietnam War after joining the U.S. Army in Detroit at the age of 17. He is now the CEO of the Michigan Veterans Foundation in Detroit.

Chatman said that after arriving in Detroit from Vietnam in 1972, his homecoming experience “wasn’t a very pleasant one.” Anti-war protestors at the airport called him names and accused him and his fellow soldiers of losing the war.

“It was an unpopular war, and there was a lot of turbulence that was taking place in America at the time, a lot of civil unrest,” Chatman recalled. “I guess for the most part, people had to place the blame on someone, so they figured ‘We may as well place it on those guys who are over there fighting.’”

Chatman went on to become a licensed social worker and began his career working primarily with Detroit’s homeless population. Now, he serves as executive director of the Michigan Veterans Foundation, which provides a space where veterans can “regain stability” after grappling with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic homelessness, and substance abuse. They offere healthcare, legal assistance, and help for the chronically homeless. 

“We provide a safe, secure environment for them to collect their thoughts, regain their stability, experience what it’s like to be in this environment, and then we watch them excel and move forward from there," said Chatman. 

Tickets for the Fisher House Michigan Stories of Service will be available at the door, and there’s no charge for veterans or service members. All proceeds benefit Fisher House Michigan, which seeks to provide a "home away from home” for the loved ones of military personnel and veterans while they receive treatment at the VA hospital.

Chatman said he looks forward to sharing his story at that event.

“There’s a wave of patriotism now that exists, and I’m most appreciative of it,” Chatman said. “To me, it’s extremely appropriate and long overdue.”

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas.

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