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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --More than 10,000 military veterans from all fifty states are taking over downtown Louisville this week. The National VFW convention brings together those who have served in every American conflict since World War II with a mission of paving a better road ahead for the service members of today.
At this convention....
"I joined the Army in 1966 and went to Vietnam in 67 and 69, two tours," says Vietnam veteran, Billy Weldon.
Swapping war stories has a literal meaning.
"We were shipped over in rubber boats and they were shooting at us," describes WWII veteran, Ralph Sabatino.
Sabatino recalls clutching to a rubber boat after falling into the Rhine River during a fight with Nazi forces.
"The most important with me is I was with General Patton, right behind him," he says.
The VFW is the nation's oldest and largest organization fighting for the benefits of military members. Last year it helped to secure 3.7 billion dollars in disability compensation for 125,000 vets.
"We want someone that's concerned that understands us," describes H. Steve Mason.
During the conference members attend workshops and hear from prominent speakers, like Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who spoke this morning. They also discuss the issues they plan to lobby for in Washington. Right now there are ongoing concerns about how sequestration cuts will affect the defense budget.But for this group it's all about paying it forward.
"Now we're giving them back the honors for which we should have got," says Mason, remember what it was like coming home from Vietnam.
Knowing that thousands of young soldiers are now too veterans of foreign wars.