Vietnam veterans to be honored at memorial in D.C.

Source: WGCL

Several local families of Vietnam veterans will head to the nation's capitol this week as their loved ones are honored at a memorial.

It's part of the Veteran's Memorial Fund.

The Jenkins family knows all too well the tragedy war can inflict. William Jenkins returned from war with severe PTSD and schizophrenia. His family tells CBS46 he was never given the care he deserved.

Ultimately, Jenkins killed two of the people closest to him before he died from cardiac arrest. His family is using this trip to D.C. To continue to heal.

When William Jenkins was drafted in November of 1969, he was a senior at Morehouse College. His wife, Ann, was pregnant with their first child.

"Don't worry about me, god and my love for you and the babies will protect me from harm and injury," said Ann.

Jenkins returned from Vietnam six months later.

"He didn't come back the same," said Ann.

Smith tells me her husband, kind, smart and loving, struggled with PTSD and schizophrenia. She says the VA wasn't giving Jenkins the proper care. Smith remembers calling his VA doctor in 1981 pleading for help-- by then the couple had four children.

"I literally begged him put him in the hospital. He told me he would but he did not."

Two weeks later, Smith came home to find two of her children dead. Jenkins killed his 6-year-old son martin and 4-year-old daughter Rashita.

"I lost half of my family in one day... nothing in the world, money or anything else can ever replace that."

Jenkins was incarcerated for 15 years. He later died in a nursing home. But he and Ann's granddaughter, Ayanna Tillman is making sure her family's story lives on.

"I just felt like it was my duty to do something to honor him," said Ayanna.

Thanks to Tillman, Jenkins will be inducted into the Veteran's Memorial Fund this weekend. She hopes her grandfather's story will raise awareness about the effects of war and mental illness.

"It wasn't his fault. He didn't want to do that. He wasn't in his right mind. So how could you blame him," said Tillman.

"I know he would be extremely proud, " Smith.

The Veteran's Memorial Fund is near the Vietnam Memorial Wall in DC. The fund honors Vietnam vets who died after the war from causes caused during their time fighting Vietnam.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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