Money left over from the Oct. 5 homecoming celebration for Vietnam war veterans is being donated to the Bluffton-based Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 698.
Homecoming organizers said Tuesday that the amount – $4,652 – will pay for training programs on veterans' benefits and federal contracting opportunities.
"Veterans helping veterans," Ralph Garcia, founder of VVA Chapter 698, said Tuesday after an oversized check presentation at Parkview Field. "Learning about the benefits that veterans have earned as a result of their military service is a very crucial and important part of what we do."
Garcia estimated the chapter has helped veterans in Allen, Adams, Wells and Jay counties recover up to $1 million in benefits owed them or their dependent children.
A dozen sponsors joined the homecoming committee to stage the celebration at Parkview Field. Nearly 1,000 people attended, according to a newspaper account.
The committee "promised the donors that all the monies would be used locally," said Garcia, a member of a Marine Corps intelligence unit in South Vietnam in 1968-69.
He said VVA Chapter 698 consists of about 50 people, most of them residents of northeast Indiana. Some members are from others states, and past members include Adrian Cronauer, an Air Force broadcaster who was the inspiration for the 1987 film "Good Morning, Vietnam."
Garcia said there are no plans for another homecoming celebration. The Oct. 5 event coincided with what the committee called the 50th anniversary of the start of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war, although pinpointing a date or a year is tough to do. U.S. military advisers were in South Vietnam in the early 1950s, but combat troops did not arrive until 1965.