Whether it's military personnel, civilian contractors, or drug enforcement agents trying to combat the country's illicit drug trade, these are highly dangerous and stressful times for Americans operating in Afghanistan.

The loss of life Monday in two separate helicopter operations – one which killed three DEA agents – proved that out.

With the President close to making a decision on America's future course of military action, the stakes in Afghanistan couldn't be more crucial. One argument heard against employing more American troops is that the country would become mired in another Vietnam, like it did nearly a half century ago.

Americans today are more ready to recognize the sacrifices of those veterans who fought and died in the jungles of Southeast Asia over four decades ago. On the weekend of Nov. 6-8, special tribute will be paid to those who served in Vietnam during a Salute to Veterans Weekend at Mount Airy Casino Resort.

The event kicks off with observance of Red Shirt Friday on Nov. 6. Persons can show support for American servicemen and women by wearing red T-shirts or a Vietnam Vet bracelet. Military vehicles and equipment will be on display during the weekend and there will be special video screenings at the Mount Airy event center.

Headlining the entertainment portion of the weekend will be country singing star Aaron Tippin, who will do a pair of performances. Commenting from his home in Nashville, Tippin said he's excited to be performing on Veterans Day weekend at the Poconos venue.

“We're going to have a party to honor our vets in a country kind of way and let everyone know that we are humbled to be invited to Mt. Pocono to celebrate this time-honored American tradition," the singer said.

The Welcome Home Weekend is a joint effort between Mount Airy, Rolling Thunder, a non-profit agency which educates the public on prisoners of war and MIA's, and also the Tobyhanna Army Depot, which honors and raises funds for military veterans with such endeavors as Toys for Tots, Operation Santa Claus, The Fisher House and Operation Touch of Home.

It's commendable that Mount Airy will be providing local VA centers with 100 tickets so disabled veterans can attend the Tippin concert free. The Rolling Thunder motorcycles will be providing a military escort for the disabled veterans to the event and a cannon salute and military honor guard ceremony will officially welcome their arrival.

The weekend tribute to our veterans benefits all parties. The resort, while hoping to raise at least $10,000 for veteran's charities, will attract a new audience to the casino grounds. Bottom line is that the veterans – especially the Vietnam servicemen – will be recognized for the underappreciated sacrifices they made for this country.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com