To the editor:
On Saturday, the United Veterans Council of the City of Gloucester, Congressman John F. Tierney, state Senator Bruce E. Tarr, Mayor Carolyn Kirk, and the Gloucester Office is sponsoring “Operation Commitment To Our Troops” to be held at the Gloucester High School Field House, 32 Leslie O. Johnson Road, Gloucester, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
As we continue to pursue the war Afghanistan and stand down from the conflict in Iraq, the number of our young men and women who return to the United States wounded physically, emotionally or psychologically is sadly rising. Many escape the obvious scars and injuries, but still often return to an economy in turmoil with jobs and housing resources scarce.
Many return with immediate needs to provide for the young families they left behind when they answered the call for freedom. Sadly, many of those who most need and are entitled to services, benefits and support are unable to navigate the myriad of federal, state and local agencies. They are often overcome with the bewildering stacks of forms and requirements. And so they give up, to their detriment and our shame.
The United Veterans Council of Gloucester and the other sponsors want to step forward to assist our recently released veterans in obtaining the assistance and help they often so desperately need.
One of the major failures during the Vietnam War was that many of us who returned from combat often found rejection, scorn, and a dearth of support. Much of the country was torn by the war and tended to unfairly blame the men and women who served in the war for the country’s faults and failures. An entire generation of men and women paid a high price and continue to pay a high price for that rejection.
This should not and cannot happen to this generation of veterans.
The goal of “Operation Commitment To Our Troops” is quite simply to provide a clearinghouse, a “one-stop” event where various governmental, public, private and citizens agencies and groups can set up booths and provide “hands on” support, information, counseling, and assistance in both completing and accepting on the spot the completed applications for whatever services that can be provided.
This is not going to be about speeches or just handing out brochures or “800” numbers. This is about one-on-one contact and information dissemination and assistance.
It is hoped that, by having representatives from all areas present at such an event, and who are able and quite willing to address and assist our fellow veterans in obtaining what is rightfully theirs and what they have earned through their service to this country, our veterans would leave with a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that the citizens and public and private agencies of this nation support them and are grateful for their service to our country.
The services range from higher education, military bonuses, preparatory education, health care benefits, counseling, housing, veterans’ mortgages, jobs and jobs training.
Among the many agencies that have anticipated to be participating in this event are: Massachusetts Treasurer’s Office; Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services; General Services Administration; UMass-Boston; Salem State University; Endicott College, Bunker Hill Community College; North Shore Community College; Gloucester Veterans Employment Representative; Mass. Housing; Citizens Bank; Volunteers of America; Lowell Vet Center; Home Base Program; Building Center; Northeast Regional Ambulance Service; Veolia Water North America; Operation Troop Support; VA-Bedford; Gloucester Veterans Services Office; Salem Veterans Services Office; Lynn Veterans Services Office, Beverly Veterans Services Office, Ipswich Veterans Services Office; VFW Post 1624; AMVETS Post 32; American Legion Post 3; DAV Chapter #74; and, many other groups and volunteers.
The event is open to any honorably discharged veteran, especially those returning/recent veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is especially fitting that this year is the 40th “anniversary” of our withdrawal of troops from Vietnam and the 60th anniversary of the cessation of the Korean War. Please bring your DD214 (discharge paper) with you.
For more information visit us on the web: www.AMVETSPost32.org or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mark Nestor at 978.283.7117 or Lucia Amero, Gloucester Veterans Services Office at 978-281-9740.
We are still looking for volunteers to help out with this event. If interested please call either of the above telephone numbers.
Fellow veterans, this is for you!
MARK L. NESTOR
Middle Street, Gloucester
Vietnam - Class of ‘70