By Bill Petzold
NORTH BRANCH — For the past several years, Dr. Richard Horsch has hosted a hunting event for veterans with disabilities on his property near Mayville.
“We have a chance to talk to these guys (while they’re hunting) — and we’ve been integrating the Vietnam veterans into it — and we have found out that there are a lot of Vietnam veterans that really need help that just won’t connect into the system,” Horsch said. “They were (dumped on). When they came back they were estranged from society, and now they won’t seek the help they need. They’re getting up into their 60s and their 70s, and their PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is coming back. Their immune systems were knocked out by Agent Orange, they’re getting malignancies, their old injuries, like a broken bone. You don’t have problems until you get to be my age, and then you know you broke that bone. This stuff is all coming back, and they’re estranged from the system; they won’t seek help.”
Senator Mike Green, along with Dr. Horsch and members of the Mayville -Vassar VFW Post No. 10884 and other local veterans’ posts, will host a “Reach Out to Veterans” event from 5 to 8 p.m., at the North Branch American Legion Post No. 457, 407 South Huron St. in North Branch.
Dr. Horsch knows first-hand what conditions were like for soldiers returning home during the Vietnam era. These were men and women who served their country in an unpopular war, and who endured rough treatment for simply doing their jobs.
“I was coming through the airport in Seattle,” Horsch said. “I was the anesthesiologist for the M.A.S.H. (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) that supported the First Air Cavalry — I got drafted — and I’m coming back, and if you got outside the airport, there were hippies there throwing cups of urine at the veterans and screaming and yelling and all that kind of stuff. … I was just part of the system, and that’s what these guys came back to. They’ve withdrawn away from it, they won’t say anything about being a Vietnam veteran, they won’t ask for help, they need it and it’s really a problem. These are the people we’re trying to reach out to.”
The free “Reach Out to Veterans” event will bring veterans of all ages and military branches from throughout the region together to thank them for their service, discuss challenges facing veterans today, and highlight organizations dedicated to serving and supporting them and their families. The Mayville-Vassar VFW Post No. 10884 will be providing a cookout style meal.
RSVPs are required for planning purposes and should be made to the Mayville-Vassar VFW Post Commander Frank Franzel at (989) 843-5811 or Dr. Richard Horsch at (989) 843-4955.
With more being added every day, the participating organizations include: American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Operation Injured Soldier, Buena Vista Army Reserve Food Center, Action Track Chair, Yellow Ribbon Guard, Military Families United, Homes for Troops, Red White & Blue Program, 2-1-1 Veteran Services, Saginaw Spirit Hockey, Akron Veterans Home, Pets for Vets, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, Zero Day, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Volunteer Defense Force, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Blue Star Family and Camp Liberty.