Zephyrhills Correctional Institution’s Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 195 has been honored with being the only incarcerated military service organization out of 5,000 organizations thus far to be named a commemorative partner for the Department of Defense’s Vietnam War Commemoration efforts.
The ZCI VVA recently gathered in the prison chapel to present Warden Jeffrey Trovillian and incarcerated VVA President Raymond A. McMahon with a copy of the certificate recognizing the chapter’s involvement. They also celebrated the U.S. Army birthday and presented Bob Hatfield of U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis’ office with a certificate of appreciation and a plaque for his service and support of ZCI.
The event was enhanced by flag bearers and a rendition of the National Anthem, special music and readings by incarcerated prisoners, and a presidential proclamation commemorating the Vietnam War.
The Department of Defense’s Vietnam War Commemoration effort encourages mostly local hometown events to thank and honor Vietnam War veterans and their families, especially families who lost loved ones in the war. The commemoration project will run from 2015 to 2017. Commemorative partners are expected to hold two events per year honoring all veterans but especially recognizing Vietnam era veterans who served from 1964 to 1975.
VVA 195 has a full roster of 36 members, which is all it is permitted to have, but there are others who participate as associates. The members contribute to the benefit of the community through in-house projects such as a Memorial Day Walk-A-Thon where they raised $1,900. The money was donated to the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Gold Star Mothers of Tampa Bay and the local John Koprowski Memorial Fund. Koprowski was a Vietnam Veteran who started the prison chapter.
“ZCI is the first incarcerated organization to be accepted to be a partner in the Department of Defense commemoration activities,” Organization sponsor Raymond Pawlicki said.
Other organizations interested in being commemorative partners may visit vietnamwar50th.com to apply.