Jose Ramos, Veteran and Advocate for Veterans
Jose Guadalupe Ramos
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day
Fifty years after leaving Garfield to join the Army, Jose Ramos received his Garfield High School diploma on June 14th, 2017. Jose Guadalupe Ramos was born in Los Angeles in 1948 to Augustine and Herminia Ramos. Growing up in the East Los Angeles area, he attended Garfield High School but left in the 10th grade and enlisted in the Army. He became a medic with the 101st Airborne Division and served in Phan Tiet, Vietnam from October 1967 to October 1968, returning home that year. He had served with honor, earning a Paratrooper Badge, the Combat Medic Badge, a Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart.
Jose Ramos suffered with guilt over the men he could not save, and struggled with PTSD. He suffered with the health concerns throughout his life perpetuated by his exposure to Agent Orange. Like other Vietnam Veterans upon returning home from an unpopular war, he faced hostility and resentment. He did the best he could to return to a normal life, getting married and creating a family. All the while he stayed in touch with veteran friends.
At home he worked in the emergency room at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center and at the Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital before retiring in 1999.
He became an advocate for the Vietnam Veterans, having always seen veterans as being treated unfairly and knew he needed to do something to suitably honor them. He formed the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Organization and pushed for a day that would officially honor and thank the servicemen. He became a powerful advocate for veterans everywhere, tirelessly helping his fellow veterans, even preventing two fellow veterans from committing suicide.
In 1998, Jose Ramos along with veterans from both sides of the war rode bicycles from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, facing a tormented past. In 2000, in an effort to champion March 30th as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, Ramos rode his bicycle from Whittier, California to Washington, DC. Repeating the feat in 2004, Jose Ramos rode his bicycle from Irwindale to Washington, DC to campaign for the creation of that Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. There he demonstrated in front of the White House.
Fellow veterans looked upon him with awe and respect because of his efforts to make sure they received the Welcome Home they deserved and never got. With such tremendous efforts, either March 29th or March 30th has become Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in many states, including California.
Unfortunately for veterans and people everywhere, Jose Ramos passed away 3 months after receiving his high school diploma that he more than deserved after a lifetime of service and commitment to others. Through an act of Congress, on October 26, 2019, the Post Office located at 8520 Michigan Avenue in Whittier, California was named after Jose Ramos.