SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was a true community effort to thank and serve those who served our country. More than 500 veterans were expected to take advantage of the dozens of services provided to them for free at the 27th Annual Western Massachusetts Veteran Stand Down at the Greek Cultural Center in Springfield from 8AM to 3PM on Friday.
“Best thing about stand down is bringing the veterans together in one spot where they can feel their brotherhood, they can talk about their war stories, their assignments and everything else,” Gumersindo Gomez of the Bilingual Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts told 22News.
The term “stand down” became popular during the Vietnam War as a time when soldiers would return from the battlefield and have a moment of relaxation. This type of stand down also offers them some relaxation by providing a variety of services for free all in one place.
The Registry of Motor Vehicles waived fees for driver’s licenses or identifications for veterans. They could get flu shots and speak to healthcare providers, colleges and veterans organizations, including the Department of Veterans Affairs. “I went last year and I had a few questions that were answered and that raised more, so this is an opportunity to get those things answered,” said Gary Janulewicz, a Vietnam War veteran from Agawam.
This year, the Veteran Stand Down had special significance. Vietnam Era Veterans were individually thanked for their service in the Vietnam War 50 years ago.