A Whittier native whose efforts to honor Vietnam War veterans spread coast-to-coast was presented with his own high school diploma on Friday.
Jose G. Ramos, founder of Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, attended Garfield High School's graduation ceremony and received the long-awaited honor.
Ramos was a medic with the 101st Airborne Division and served in Phan Tiet, Vietnam from October 1967 to October 1968.
"Veterans never forget those who helped," said Alfred Lugo, a spokesman with the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Committee, in a news release. "Medics put themselves in harm's way to save their fellow soldiers' lives. A medic will never leave a man behind."
When Ramos returned from service, he suffered from PTSD, alcoholism, depression and he was suicidal, Lugo said. Ramos believed veterans were treated unfairly post service and wanted to do something to properly honor them.
That's when Ramos formed the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Organization and advocated for a day that would officially honor the servicemen with a well-deserved thank you. He rode his bicycle from Irwindale, California to Washington, D.C. and even stood in front of the White House to demonstrate.
Now, most states celebrate March 29 or 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
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"Jose G. Ramos, as energetic in giving Vietnam veterans their due reception and appreciation, never thought of himself," Lugo said.
"He will now be able to enjoy receiving his Garfield High School diploma. In my opinion, he will be a Ph.D -- 'A Person Having a Diploma.'"