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Veterans invited to "stand down" to learn about benefits

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Veterans from throughout the region who have questions or concerns about benefits and services are invited to attend the Western Massachusetts Stand-Down 2005 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Greek Cultural Center at 6 Plainfield St.

The phrase "stand-down" was used during the Vietnam War when troops were brought in from combat areas to rest, recuperate and prepare to go back to the battlefield.

Anne Wilson, the office manager of the Springfield Vet Center, explained that the event was originally designed to help homeless veterans, but was enlarged to include needy vets as well.

During the day there will be representatives from a number of organizations and services, including Massachusetts Veterans Services, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, legal aid, employment counseling, the Holyoke Soldiers' Home and area colleges.

Wilson said that there would also be a podiatrist at the Stand-Down to provide foot care for the vets. All the services are offered without charge.

There will also be a free lunch served to the vets and there will be shuttles offering transportation between the events and other facilities.

Last year the event drew between 250 and 300 veterans. There is no pre-registration necessary.

Veterans with questions about the event can call the Vet Center at 737-5167 or the Bilingual Veteran's Center at 731-0194.