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Vietnam Vet Commemorates Sacrifice With Song

LAWTON, Okla_Welcome home. A voice like a dream, and a message from the heart.

Vietnam Veteran Leo Perez gave a special performance Saturday of a song he wrote commemorating his experience and so many others' who fought in Vietnam.

He travels all across the country to sing his song because he believes it's his calling.  

 Leo Perez's live was much different 40 years ago.

"I walked from the bus depot, 10 miles, carrying my duffel bag and in my uniform, proud that I had served my country. However as soon as I stepped foot on the sidewalk people were driving by honking, giving me the finger, cursing at me, and I didn't understand why, " said Perez.

He said he went home and turned on the news and realized his and so many others' sacrifices were going unappreciated.

Over the next 30 years he struggled. He threw out everything he had related to the military, he had outbursts, he had flashbacks. His wife lived in constant fear that he would try to cause harm to someone or himself.

It wasn't until 10 years ago that he began to get better. He was diagnosed with PTSD.

"My wife and I, when we found that out it was like just a brand new day. You know, now we have a name to it and now we can deal with this, " Perez said.

Leo spent the following years living his life, working for the VA hospital. But then one night, his life changed once again.

"The song came to me in a dream. 3 years ago Easter Sunday morning, and as I heard the words 'you heard the battle cry, you answer the call' I knew it was straight from Heaven, " Perez explained.

Immediately he got up and began writing and putting it to music. His wife awoke to the strange behavior but soon could see this wasn't a flashback -- this was something special. So together, in tears, in a matter of 2 hours they wrote the song. He said he sings it for his brothers and sisters of war; their reactions often the greatest reward.

"Many of them in tears. A big hug -- when I get the slap on the back I know it hit home. When they come up and say thank you, brother...I know it did the job. But I always have to give glory to God, " Perez said.

He said a weekend like this is everything to him. Moved to silence, he reflected on the meaningfulness of the ceremony.

Knowing the difficult road he's traveled has finally been appreciated.

"It's priceless. It's our country. It showed to me that this is what we've needed for all these years. I've been to several welcome home ceremonies, this one here just ..."

 Perez is a resident of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He travels to many Vietnam events to sing his song and spread the importance of treating PTSD.

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