Open house for Purple Heart Medal recipients in Rochester Saturday afternoon

(ABC 6 News) – Honoring some of the community’s bravest veterans, the Military Order of the Purple Heart held an open house at the VFW 1215 Post in Rochester.

The Lloyd-Swenson 7110 chapter wants to make sure every Purple Heart medal recipient in Southeast Minnesota has a community.

“We just get to exchange experiences and chat with people that understand what went on,” said event organizer and Purple Heart recipient Michael Quinn.

The effects of military combat are hard to fully understand unless you’ve been through it, which is why it’s so meaningful for veterans to have a space to connect with others who have been through the same thing.

A Purple Heart medal is the oldest military decoration in the U.S., awarded to service members who were wounded or killed in battle.

“We all gave to the county, we all served and we’re all proud of it,” said Quinn.

Quinn received his Purple Heart after he was wounded by a mortar round in Vietnam. He says one of the toughest parts of his service was how he was treated as a veteran coming home from the war.

“That was tough. I know veterans that are still bitter about that, and it takes a few years to get over that, but this group of guys, we’re all past it now,” said Quinn.

It’s not easy for everyone to talk about how they got their medals.

“A lot of us suffer from survivor guilt because most times, it’s not just one soldier, sailor, airmen or marine that’s wounded at the time, it’s more than one, and some don’t survive,” said Purple Heart medal recipient Harry Kerr.

Kerr says military service can be even harder on families because they don’t always know where their loved one is or if they’re safe.

Membership to the Lloyd-Swenson 7110 chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is also open to families of medal recipients because it’s important to have people that understand that experience.

The organization does its best to reach out to all Purple Heart recipients and their families in Southeast Minnesota and surrounding areas.

Eligible members can reach out to them anytime at the VFW 1215 post in Rochester.