NORFOLK, VA (WVEC-TV) -- Our Making Your Mark segment has been part of 13News Now at 4 for two years now. and in that time, we've been honored that Hampton Roads veterans have let us into their lives.
Some of the special, exclusive stories 13News Now has been honored to share include interactions involving local veterans from World War I and Vietnam, to more recent conflicts like the war on terrorism.
Among the special moments -- a reunion in Yorktown between two Vietnam War buddies -- both named John.
After a hug at the door, the two men sat down outside to proudly look back at old pictures of their younger days.
"How many years was that?" one John said.
"47 years ago. 1969," said the other John.
"Good gosh," the first John said.
They were pilots for the Army -- dropping off and picking up American troops from the battlefields of Vietnam.
"I miss flying," John said. "It was just fun."
"Smitty" is a Vietnam veteran who we met in Virginia Beach.
"I love America," Smitty said. These days, he's showing his love of country by running VetsHouse -- a facility in Virginia Beach that allows homeless veterans to get back on their feet with shelter and programs that encourage them to seek employment and housing. It runs on donations from the community -- several community groups often have fundraisers for VetsHouse, which bring Smitty to tears.
"It's just nice to know that people care," Smitty said.
And many people have shown they care. This year, a big problem facing veterans is the alarming number of suicides. Some statistics indicate 22 veterans a day commit suicide -- that prompted a movement on social media to raise awareness here in Hampton Roads and across the country. People started posting videos of themselves doing 22 push-ups. they joined people across the country trying to send a message of support to veterans, using this "22 challenge" movement.
Another group that serves to enrich the lives of veterans is Team Red, White and Blue Virginia Beach. They hold runs and social events to make veterans feel like they're part of a team again -- that they're not alone -- something many miss when their days in the military are over.
13News Now also had the honor of meeting with a group of World War II veterans in Norfolk and we were the only news team at a special ceremony at the Oceana Air Show that honored Vietnam veterans.
All of us thank you for your service and sacrifice that has kept us safe and free.