Painting supports Vietnam veterans

The framed 18x24 watercolor painting of a Vietnam War veteran welcoming home a current servicemember was recently raffled off, raising more than $1,500. The funds will help American Legion Post 18 and Auxiliary Unit 18 of Portsmouth, R.I., host a "Welcome Home" ceremony this Veterans Day for Vietnam veterans. This is the third artwork to be raffled by the post and unit for the benefit of honoring veterans, thanks to the talent of local artist and Unit 18 member Paula Visnoski.

"I was a young artist making my way in life during that era, so doing this piece meant a lot to me," Visnoski said. "It was an honor."

The vision for the painting originated from Christine Hayward, Unit 18 president and Post 18 adjutant. "While Vietnam veterans were denied the welcome home all heroes deserve, they are often the first in line to thank current service members returning home," she said.

The painting reveals a Vietnam combat U.S. Marine Corps veteran wearing a vintage boonie hat and inked with a tattoo of the 3rd Marine Division shaking the hand of a current active-duty member serving with the U.S. Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The colors in the background symbolize the Vietnam Service Medal, which the yellow with red stripes represents the flag of the Republic of Vietnam and the green alludes to the jungle. "The details and symbolism are striking, as is the look of mutual respect passing between the heroes," Hayward said.

Vincent "Vinny" D’Andrea, past commander of Post 18, won the painting after purchasing $300 in raffle tickets.

The "Welcome Home" Veterans Day ceremony will involve speakers, musicians singing songs from the Vietnam era and the reading of an essay from a local high school youth. The post and unit challenged students at Portsmouth High School to research how returning Vietnam veterans were treated and how they will personally ensure that current and future returning servicemembers are treated with honor and respect. The contest winner will read his or her essay at the ceremony.