Veterans Day weekend started in Springfield Massachusetts Friday with observances on two college campuses. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports
The Veterans Day observances at both Western New England University and American International College Friday were highlighted by wreath laying, patriotic music and keynote speeches by people in uniform. At AIC, a small crowd on the campus quadrangle heard from Air Force Col. Adele Hill.
Hill, who commands a medical evacuation squadron spoke of the hardships of multiple deployments since 2001 and the first time she was separated from her daughter who was 19 months old at the time.
Hill said there is no more rewarding job than to fly into a war zone and bring out a wounded warrior.
US Army Lt Col John Driscoll said Veterans Day is no longer a celebration of the winning of a war but a day to honor generations of brave men and women. He urged people in the audience of 100 at Western New England University to volunteer for community organizations that assist veterans.
The unemployment rate for post 9-11 veterans is 14.5 percent.
Massachusetts provides cash bonuses to returning military veterans and has programs to assist veterans in a myriad of ways to improve their lives and livelihoods, according to State Senator Gale Candaras.
She said the state is very aggressive when it comes to helping veterans find jobs, pointing to a $750,000 pilot program in western Massachusetts to train veterans to become precision machinists.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno thanked veterans for their continued willingness to volunteer time to civic and service organizations, and he urged people to turn out this Sunday for the city’s Veterans Day parade and a ceremony that will follow at the state’s veterans cemetery in Agawam.