As a veteran, Steve Lulofs knows the importance of being welcomed home after serving overseas.
That's why he doesn't want another Vietnam to happen when it comes to returning members of the military who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Back during Vietnam, vets weren't welcomed at all with open arms," said Lulofs, who served in Baghdad from November 2003 to March 2005 as a member of the U.S. Army's 980th Engineer Battalion. "Even when I came back from overseas, I was welcomed at the airport, but I wasn't welcomed home 100 percent."
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Lulofs is trying to remedy that by helping the group Chicago Welcomes Home the Heroes stage a parade and other activities Dec. 15 for veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. And although the City of Chicago is backing this event, it's not footing the bill, Lulofs said. Which means the veterans organization needs to raise $80,000 to $100,000 to make this welcome a reality, he added.
To reach that goal, Chicago Welcomes Home the Heroes has been holding fundraisers across the Chicagoland area, Lulofs said. Now, the organization is hitting the south suburbs with a pizza party from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, at VFW Bremen Post 2791. The $10 admission includes all-you-can-eat pizza from Aurelio's. The party also will have live music, raffles and a cash bar, Lulofs said.
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All proceeds of that event will go to putting together December's event, which will include a parade, a reading of those who died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and a resource fair that will answer veterans' questions about health, jobs and other issues.
"We haven't been to the south suburbs yet," Lulofs said about why the group picked the village for its fundraiser. "Tinley has a reputation for being good to vets."
Chicago Welcomes Home the Heroes Pizza Party
Where: VFW Bremen Post 2791
When: 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5
Cost: $10 for all-you-can-eat pizza from Aurelio's
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