ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - The Escanaba Veterans Center celebrated their 40th Anniversary on Friday.
At the Escanaba Veterans Center, Upper Peninsula vets and their families receive healthcare resources, therapy, and a great sense of community.
"This is unbelievable, it's a great center, the people are great," said Gary Bjorkquist, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran.
After the negative reception on their return home, many Vietnam veterans were hesitant to seek care at the VA. Their efforts in the '70s to establish vet centers nationwide helped them receive that care they needed.
"The Vet Center program was that outreach arm to reach out to those veterans who were not getting services and falling through the cracks," said Jim Harsh, Escanaba Vet Center director.
On Friday, a cookout was held outside the Escanaba Vet Center, with information, plenty of food, and even entertainment.
Vietnam veterans were honored with a special medal commemorating their efforts to establish the center. They were proud to remind everyone the center is open to all of the Upper Peninsula’s more than 30,000 veterans.
"All veterans from World War II, Korea, all on up, there's a special bond that they all have and it can't be beat at a veterans center," said Bjorkquist.
The Vet Center has had a permanent location on Ludington Street since 2008. In the past five years, they've been able to branch out, adding ten access points around the Upper Peninsula in locations like Marquette, Houghton, and even Manistique.
"So we try to make it as convenient as possible for them to come and get care," said Harsh.
The center looks forward to working with Upper Peninsula veterans for many years to come.