When Army Sgt. 1st Class Carl Orvis stepped off the plane onto American soil after duty as a military police officer in Iraq, strangers applauded and waved flags to welcome him home.
That's a far cry from the cool reception an earlier generation of veterans endured when they returned home from Korea and Vietnam.
Many Korean War veterans felt they were forgotten. Some soldiers returning from Vietnam were spat upon and scorned for their participation in the unpopular war.
An area group, Welcome Home Vets Inc./Operation Stand Up, has set itself the task of ensuring that never happens again, and its members say they've found a receptive audience for their message in Brevard County.
"It's definitely a positive welcoming home," said Orvis, who is a trainer with the Army's 158th Infantry Brigade headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base. "Continue the support. It's all definitely appreciated."
On this Veterans Day, organizations here and across the nation will gather to honor and show appreciation for those young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and to all the veterans that went before them. In Brevard -- home to at least 72,702 veterans -- the appreciation for those in uniform runs deep.
"Even the people who don't support the war, support the individual soldier,' said 23-year-old Tyler Bancroft, who served 16 months with the Army in Iraq. "When people knew that I had served in Iraq, they thanked me for my service."
George Golden, who with the help of other veterans organized Operation Stand Up, said many of the troops return with post-traumatic stress disorder or may simply need help readjusting to life back home. Formed about a year ago, Operation Stand Up's goal is to provide that support.
"We really didn't appreciate or didn't understand how Vietnam veterans were being treated," said Golden, who served in the Air Force from 1964 to 1968. "We don't want that to happen again."
The group has been supportive of Homes for Our Troops, an organization that is helping wounded veterans like Russ Marek of Satellite Beach. Homes For Our Troops is raising funds and other support to build a home for Marek.
Marek lost his right arm and right leg and suffered burns and a brain injury Sept. 16, 2005, when a powerful roadside bomb hit his tank in Iraq.
Marek said he appreciated the reception he received when he finally was released after months in hospitals and of the help older veterans have offered him.
"The people have treated him wonderfully," his mother, Rose Marek, said.
Retired Col. Nathan Thomas said that for people without a personal link to the war, it can feel distant.
But Army Capt. Rich Dempsey of the 158th Infantry Brigade said he thinks people are reaching out more.
"When they see a soldier in uniform, 99 percent of the time they say, 'Thanks for your service,' " he said.
It has been the same for Army Specialist Joe Vanorden, a 2003 graduate of Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High who returned Oct. 15 from serving in Iraq with the 25 Infantry Division.
Vanorden said that a Brevard group called Operation America Standing in Support offered to hold a welcome home reception party for him.
"It's unbelievable," the 22-year-old said. "I don't have enough words to express how appreciative I am. I haven't heard anything like this. Strangers want to help."
Contact Moody at 242-3651 or firstname.lastname@example.org.