The local Association of the Airborne 3rd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, of the U.S. Army National Guard, will sponsor an elaborate and patriotic Veterans Day celebration on Friday, Nov. 11, from 4-7 p.m. at Russell J. Salvatore's Patriots & Heroes Park, 6675 Transit Road, Williamsville.
The celebration and the "Jump In On PTSD" reception will benefit the Jack H. Wisby, Jr. PTSD Clinic at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Batavia. Salvatore will host the reception inside Russell's Steaks Chops & More and Salvatore's Grand Hotel.
The Veterans Day celebration in the park begins at 4 p.m. with a USO-style musical performance by Music On The Front Lines, led by founder, CEO and Music Director Van Taylor and COO Ron Walker, both of whom are members of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. Taylor has been performing these shows around the world for service men and women for 42 years. Melissa Kate, Tim Webb and Mike Pennick are also in the group.
Donna Kerr and the Buffalo Dolls will perform a salute to the five branches of the armed services.
All funds raised at the "Jump In On PTSD" event goes directly to assist veterans at the clinic and the accompanying "Center for Hope," a new resident facility for female veterans.
During the 1960s and '70s, the local special forces company conducted airborne missions all over the country with helicopters and C-130s from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. These U.S. Army green berets, along with their sister units, another company based in Schenectady and a third from White Plains, with their headquarters detachment also from Westchester County, have continued to remain close, and held a 45th reunion in 2013 at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
Over 100 veterans and their families dedicated a tree and monument to honor 47 fallen comrades. They met this May to recognize five more fallen comrades, one of which was a late recipient of two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, and other significant awards. Several were privileged to participate in his funeral this spring at Arlington National Cemetery.
While looking for a cause to support as a group, they recently learned of a Vietnam veteran from their group who was dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other health issues.
"This Vietnam vet who served in our group told us about the outstanding care he is finally receiving, and it is right here in Batavia at the Jack H. Wisby, Jr. PTSB Clinic at the VA," said SGM John F. Harrington (Ret.). "We have since learned of other fellow members of our veterans association who have received tremendous care at that facility."
SSG Louis A. Scarozza (Ret.) added, "It turns out this little-known clinic is among the highest-rated in the entire United States, and it is right here in our backyard in Batavia. We toured the facility, and everyone we met and encountered had a smile - from the doctors, nurses, counselors to the inpatients and outpatients. It reminded us of one big, happy family on vacation."
The goal of the "Jump In On PTSD" campaign is to raise funds so the clinic may better serve its veterans and gain public recognition of its successes and the results of the professional medical care it provides.
Those wishing to contribute are encouraged to make checks to: "VA WNY Healthcare System," and, on the memo line, enter "GPF 1935 PTSD Residential Treatment Program." This ensures every cent goes to the Jack H. Wisby, Jr. PTSB Clinic. If you cannot attend the ceremony, donations may be sent to CSM Alfred R. LaChance (Ret.), "Financial Minister," 4732 Porter Center Road, Lewiston, NY, 14092.