Welcome Home Soldiers
An Interview with Anne DeLaet
When the Welcome Home Soldiers began they only had 3 volunteers. Now there are more than 600 that get the alert. They operate in approximately a 30 mile radius around Longview and 30 mile radius around Tyler airports, but if a military man or woman is driving from DFW, Shreveport, or almost anywhere they will go wherever the family request. They have welcomed military heroes at homes, churches, schools, court houses and restaurants. Kilgore Magazine wanted to know a little more about Welcome Home Soldiers. Anne DeLaet was proud to share.
KM: How did the Welcome Home Soldiers getting started in East Texas?
Anne DeLaet: WHS was inspired by a friend of mine in Midland, TX, who was involved with a group to welcome the military when they came home to that area. My friend and the Midland coordinator encouraged me to begin a similar group here, and Danny Mogle of the Tyler paper became interested in the idea and printed a front page story about my desire to begin such an organization. Once the article came out, the TV stations began to call me to interview me about welcoming the military, and you would not believe the number of volunteers who started calling me wanting to be involved.
KM: Have you had many volunteers show interest in helping you?
Anne DeLaet: I was gratified to learn that so many people shared my interest in showing honor and respect to our military men and women, and, although I had not really realized what this idea would mean to the Vietnam Veterans, I soon learned that many of them wanted to help, partly because of the terrible treatment so many of them had experienced when they came home from Vietnam, and partly because of their love of this great country and support and appreciation for those who are willing to put their lives on the line to insure our safety and security here at home.
KM: Are most of your volunteers from the Military?
Anne DeLaet: It was amazing to learn from so many of our volunteers that they had a military family history which inspired them to want to help welcome all military men and women as they return to our area. And then there were some who had no military family history, but who are just very patriotic individuals who feel a debt of gratitude and honor for those who serve in the US military.
The WHS volunteers also stand with the Patriot Guard Riders at many of their funeral missions, and many of the members of the Patriot Guard Riders often join us at the Welcome Home Celebrations.
KM: What is the hardest part of your job?
Anne DeLaet: It is knowing when the military heroes are coming in. Only the families are told when their loved ones are coming home. We must wait until a family member contacts us by phone or email to let us know who, when and where the Welcome is to take place.
KM: What would you like to stress to the public?
Anne DeLaet: I guess the bottom line is that the Welcome Home Soldier volunteers and I just want everyone who serves in our US military to know how much we appreciate their service and how we honor and respect them and their families who also sacrifice so much.
We can never do enough to repay the military heroes (and they are all heroes in our eyes) and their families for their sacrifices, but perhaps a rousing Welcome Home Celebration is at least a down payment on our debt to them. I am sure that it means a lot to have family and friends welcome them, but we hope that having complete strangers (including veterans from all branches and conflicts and other patriotic American) show up to welcome and honor them shows them how valuable and appreciated they are by the everyday citizens of the United States of America.
Thanks for the opportunity to share Welcome Home Soldiers.
Feel free to contact us.
May no soldier go unloved. May no soldier walk alone.
May no soldier be forgotten until there is Peace on earth.
For more information contact:
903-279-7301 • 903-707-2201