From P38 to Purple Heart

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posted on January 15, 2016
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The bond among wounded warriors and all veterans is their shared history. A unique tradition of military life is that one can walk into a room full of strangers­­­­ and, within moments, identify everyone’s past assignments and accomplishments by the medals and ribbons displayed on their uniform.

For veterans who most often wore only their field uniforms with discrete name and rank insignia while deployed overseas, it can be a challenge to locate replacement medals that were dearly earned, but seldom worn. Vets Supply Line is their source for everything from a personal award lapel pin that is authorized for wear on a civilian coat, to a prideful display of their campaign ribbons.

In the early 1990s, a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post in Minnesota came upon a large supply of Vietnam veteran hat pins when a member accidentally ordered several thousand more than intended. The post commander, a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran himself, took out an ad in a few veteran magazines to sell the pins as a fundraiser. Veterans from all over responded, but looking for much more than just the fundraiser pin. The commander had unwittingly tapped into a need for hard-to-find items such as official medals, ribbons, and badges, to commemorative items such as hat pins and apparel. For that VFW commander, what started as a simple effort to help fellow veterans quickly turned into a full-time job, and “made-in-the-USA” Vets Supply Line Inc. was born.

Today the company sells thousands of items such as official military awards, patches, pins, dog tags, and custom-embroidered military ribbon hats and shirts through their mail/phone order catalogs and website www.MilitaryVetsPX.com. For a free catalog, call 1-800-864-5062. The company is open to the public. Says store manager Adam: “On a side note, I'm not a member yet, but my father joined the NRA just last month. We've been proud gun owners for many years.”

Editor’s Note: The hard-to-find P38 is a remnant of a bygone era where old style, canned military food rations came with the small, portable can openerthe P38. A “PX” is slang for Post Exchangethe general store found on most military bases.

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