RICHWOOD — Ron Wroblewski remembers how it was when he returned home from Vietnam in 1966.

And he was one of the lucky ones.

Wroblewski, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Ceredo resident, is now vice president of Thanks! Plain and Simple, an organization headquartered in Charleston whose mission is to support fellow West Virginians serving in the military and let them know a caring state awaits them when they return home, ready to help in any way possible as they make the transition back to civilian life.

“One of the reasons I really got involved with it is that I am a Vietnam veteran. We were treated horribly when we came back, and I don’t want to see these guys (now in Iraq and Afghanistan) treated the way we were. We want them to know that we really care about them, not only while they are there, but when they come back,” Wroblewski said.

Those who returned from Vietnam, a war that divided the country, were spat upon at airports and called “baby killers.” There were no parades or welcome-home celebrations, no organization to steer them to potential jobs and other career opportunities.

“I got back early, so my experience was not as bad as those who came back later,” Wroblewski said. “But there was still a taste of contempt that was held for servicemen.

“When I came back, nobody knew I was coming home. I got home and there was nobody at my house. I laid my sea bag on the porch. My mother came home and saw the sea bag and thought I was dead.”

Wroblewski said Thanks! Plain and Simple wants to do everything it can to give West Virginians serving in the military the opportunity to return to the Mountain State and stay here, if that’s what they want.

“We will work with business and industry in the state and try to steer them to somebody who is hiring or offering training in the area,” he said.

“When I came back from Vietnam, I had no idea. There was nobody to say where the jobs were. Looking back now, there were so many opportunities, but I didn’t see them then.”

Another thing Thanks! Plain and Simple is doing is going into local communities so citizens, including veterans and relatives of those currently serving, can learn about the organization and help spread the word on what it is doing. The organization is in contact with all 55 counties, Wroblewski said.

The first local rally was held recently in Richwood, and further meetings throughout the state will precede Thanks! Plain and Simple Day on Oct. 7 at the Cultural Center in Charleston. As part of the day’s events, Hershel “Woody” Williams, West Virginia’s only living Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, will release a balloon for every West Virginian who has died in combat in the last five years.

The organization has a Web site — www.thanksplainandsimple.org — that contains photos from most counties as well as messages. A DVD for the troops is also planned.

“One of our problems is communication with the troops to let them know about the Web site,” Wroblewski said. “We’re letting families know we’re here, and hopefully the families will let the troops know we’re here. That’s one of the purposes of the local rallies, to let people know what we’re here for and get the word out.”

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