The Kenosha Area Vietnam Vets (KAVV) – (published in the Kenosha News, 11/11/2021)


We who have seen war, will never stop seeing it. In the silence of the night, we will always hear the screams. So this is our story, for we were soldiers once, and young
Joseph L. Galloway




I’ve been a member of the Kenosha Area Vietnam Vets (KAVV) almost since the group began, back in the early 1980’s. When Vietnam War veterans returned after their tours of duty were complete, the mood of America was not welcoming. And that unwelcoming attitude included many veterans’ organizations of the time, including some prominent ones in our town of  Kenosha, Wisconsin.


Our local VFW, unflinchingly stated that Vietnam Vets were not welcome there. Many hard feelings were created as a result of the treatment we received, not only at the hands of the hippies and ne’er do wells, but also at the hands of Veteran organizations that professed to advocate for veterans, one and all. And it was many years before that negative attitude changed.


An early gathering of the KAVV










In response to that treatment, a number of Vietnam Veterans from Southeastern Wisconsin started gathering informally. At first, we met in a local park. After a time, the powers that be at Kemper Center graciously offered us the use of a small building on the Eastern most end of their property. And there we met and conducted our business for many years after.


Back in the day, when many of us marched in the parade

At its peak, the KAVV exceeded eighty members. And our members were active. We participated in the annual Kenosha fourth of July parade every year and were always welcomed soundly. (We won the blue ribbon quite often) We almost always had a summer picnic, and we donated funds, labor and materials to other local groups in need, including worthy youngsters seeking a college education. We promoted positive activities by Vietnam Veterans and attempted to provide a good example for the public eye.


The KAVV fielded a soft ball team for several years. We didn’t win all of our games, but we won the hearts of many of the fans …and some opponents also.


As a result of our experiences in Vietnam, and the negativity we faced at home, we were always a close-knit group. We stick by each other through thick and thin, and always have each other’s backs. When a member passes, he is mourned by all.


When the tide began to turn, and the negative attitude regarding Vietnam Veterans softened, the local VFW sent a contingent to one of our meetings and formally apologized for the treatment we had received at their hands. Some of our members were able to accept their apology, some never will, but many of us thought it was a solid gesture.


As the years have passed, our membership has dwindled. Agent Orange, PTSD related issues, and age have thinned out our ranks. Current meetings rarely draw more than a dozen participants, and fully staffing group officers is difficult.


Our color guard provides a valuable service

One function of our group, which has flourished, thanks to some very dedicated members is our color guard. Each and every Veteran funeral in the Kenosha area is offered the services of our Kenosha Area Vietnam Vets color guard. They deliver a final tribute to the veteran, and provide comfort and pride to his or her family. The dedication of this group cannot be overstated. On many weeks they tend to multiple funerals, sometimes more than one a day.  And they’re out there in all kinds of weather, all year long. The color guard accepts donations for their services, which are only used to purchase uniforms and other color guard supplies. They do it for their fellow Veterans.


Our annual Christmas party is coming up soon, and it’s always a great event. We have a DJ, music, raffles, beverages and a fine dinner. But most of all we have each other, and from far and wide we gather, remembering the old times; some good, some not so good. But we persevered through the “bad old days” and are now enjoying the good new days, when it’s a great time to be a Veteran.


So Welcome Home, my Nam Vet brothers and sisters, and Welcome Home to all vets everywhere.


And thank you to The Kenosha Area Vietnam Vets, for providing a badly needed port in a storm.


You are welcome to share Joe’s blogs on Facebook or any other media, in their entirety with citation acknowledging Joe as the author. Copyright protected, all rights reserved © Joe Campolo Jr.


About the Author

Joe Campolo Jr.

Joe Campolo, Jr. is an award winning author, poet and public speaker. A Vietnam War Veteran, Joe writes and speaks about the war and many other topics. See the "Author Page" of this website for more information on Joe. Guest writers on Joe's blogs will have a short bio with each article. Select blogs by category and enjoy the many other articles available here. Joe's popular books are available thru Amazon, this website, and many other on-line book stores.


  1. Good write Joe, and true, Unfortunately, these unwelcome sentiments were quite prevalent back when we came home. I joined the local VFW here in my hometown, the one my Dad had been a member of for years. I was treated like an outcast by most of the older members and was told Vietnam wasn’t really a war. Both my Dad and I left and never went back.
    Peace to you and all of our Brothers and Sisters.

  2. I really enjoyed this article Joe. When I returned from Vietnam I had been gifted a VFW lifetime membership from my parents and visited the hall there in Kenosha a few times and a Veteran’s Day function once but was always treated with respect. My visits were few in number mainly because I don’t really drink much if at all. I pretty much left Kenosha to go on the road in 67, came back to attend UWP in 73 or 74? And left again in 76 and went there for a fish fry or two and accompanied my Dad for a beer a few times but never connected with the whole VFW experience.I left Kenosha in 76, came back for UWP graduation and only return from time to time for a visit.
    I believe I sensed a gap in my war experience with some of the membership but dismissed much of that as I believed the gatherings at the bar were more for the social drinking than anything substantive.
    I like how you all have persevered and the VFW came to you with a mea culpa, your acceptance in part and your organization’s involvement in Kenosha’s veteran community.
    Well done !

    1. Thanks Duke, glad you enjoyed the article. And glad you were accepted by the bunch, I have heard from some who, like you, were welcomed into the VFW fold, and many who weren’t.
      After many years of avoiding the VFW I finally joined, at the encouragement of Vietnam Veterans who joined, after the “changing of the guard” so to speak.
      These are good days to be a veteran.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *