Westside Veteran still waiting for Purple Heart

By: Marcos Lebron

Westside Veteran still waiting for Purple Heart for his Vietnam War injuries, but the government says no.

Wilmer Olivencia’s family has joined him in his fight to get the prestigious recognition. It's a battle that has gone on for decades. They've sent countless letters to the government but the struggle from Veterans Affairs has shattered their hopes.

The 66 -year-old veteran hangs the flag outside his home with pride. He fought for our country and was injured in the Vietnam War and is worthy of the Purple Heart but for whatever reason more than 44 years later he still doesn't have it.

"Makes me feel lousy. Here I fought for my country.  Now my country is fighting me and I'm fighting my country," Wilmer Olivencia said.

Wilmer Olivencia is a proud US Veteran and has the medals to prove it. He's got a Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Infantry man badge and a National Defense Service medal just to name a few. But there's an empty spot that is supposed to be for the Purple Heart, an award he says is long overdue.

"My major injuries was being shot in the left knee cap and fragments to my face. It took me a year to learn how to walk again Olivencia said.

The Purple Heart is awarded to men and women wounded in combat. Olivencia remembers the day he was hit in the Kneecap on his left leg by enemy fire during the Vietnam War near the demilitarized zone and later hit by fragments in the face from a grenade. When he recovered from his injuries he was sent home because he was unfit for duty.

Four decades later, Olivencia still didn't get his medal, even though he's got the paperwork, the medical charts, and the records to prove he was not only injured but entitled to the Purple Heart in 1971

"I could have sent my kids to college, all expenses paid.

My property taxes paid, I could have had all my medicines paid for," Olivencia said.

On Memorial Day, Olivencia paid tribute to those who have fallen in battle but he said it's difficult to participate knowing his fight to get what he earned isn't over.

"I don't want to go marching down the street anymore, things like that," Olivencia said.

His family is taking this fight to the top; they've sent letters to President Obama, the First Lady, and Jill Biden.

Congresswoman Higgins offices confirmed they are looking into this but it's been quite a while of waiting.


Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

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