The Big E to honor active military & veterans on opening day

VA representatives will be on hand to answer question

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Big E this year kicks off on September 16th with Military Appreciation Day, honoring those who are currently serving or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The VA New England Healthcare System is sponsoring the day.

The following will be allowed free admission:

  • Active duty and retired military personnel
  • Dependents of active duty military personnel
  • Veterans (no dependents)

According to VA New England’s John Paradis, “A military ID is required for free admission. Acceptable forms of ID for veterans are a copy of DD214 or proof of membership to any veterans’ organization.”

VA New England will have information on both national and state veteran resources, Paradis said. There will also be representatives from VA medical centers and clinics across New England to answer questions.

Paradis said the VA area will be located along the Avenue of States, and representatives will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. He said, “Veterans are encouraged to bring a copy of their DD 214, ‘Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,’ to help assist counselors in determining a veteran’s eligibility for VA benefits.”

Below is a list from VA New England on what’s planned for this year at the Big E:

  • 70-plus VA personnel conducting outreach, representing every major program and the regional Mobile Vet Center from West Springfield
  • VA registered nurses will be administering the flu vaccine throughout the day to veterans enrolled in VA health care
  • Stacy Pearsall, a former Air Force combat camera photographer, will once again be taking photos for the Veterans Portrait Project
  • Volunteers with the Veterans History Project will sign to afford opportunities for veterans to tell their stories for the Library of Congress
  • More than a dozen state and community partners will be available to speak with veterans at the Massachusetts State Building at a “Veterans Commons” area
  • A chance for military members and veterans to win in several military appreciation day contests to include Patriots tickets for Dec. 12 game versus Baltimore Ravens, Blake Shelton tickets for October 1 at TD Garden in Boston and a 2017 Ultimate Red Sox Fan Experience at Fenway Park
  • Bax and the Rock 102 Road Crew will be set up with VA from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with chances to win additional prizes
  • Signing of a “Thank You Veterans” banner that will be on display during The Big E Grande Mardi Gras parade

For more information on VA healthcare in New England, call 1-844-VA-CARES or go to www.newengland.va.gov\outreach.

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