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Public invited to 3rd annual Veterans Day celebration in Patriots & Heroes Park


Wed, Nov 7th 2018 08:50 am
Pictured is the color Guard from last year of the United States Naval Sea Cadets The Sullivan's Division.
Pictured is the color Guard from last year of the United States Naval Sea Cadets The Sullivan's Division.
Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI
The local Veteran's Association of the 3rd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) of the U.S. Army National Guard, will sponsor an elaborate and patriotic Veterans Day celebration at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, inside Russell J. Salvatore's Patriots & Heroes Park, 6675 Transit Road, Williamsville.
Sunday at 11 a.m. is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The following year the country celebrated Armistice Day to mark the end of the war and it is now celebrated as Veteran's Day in honor of all veterans.
The third annual "Jump in on PTSD" tribute to veterans is also a fundraiser to benefit the Jack H. Wisby Jr. PTSD Treatment Center and Center for Hope at the Batavia VA Medical Center. Donations will be placed in a special "Holy Grail" and collected by members of the 19th Special Forces Group. The public is encouraged to attend the hourlong ceremony.
The Veterans Day celebration in the Patriot's & Heroes Park will include 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 servicemen and women for 43 years. Melissa Kate, Joyce Nixon and George Miller will be the vocalists.
Kate will perform a salute to the five branches of the armed services while she and Walker will end the festivities with a rendition of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American." The tribute will open with a procession of veterans into the park, featuring the Caledonia Pipe Band, with colors presented by the 914th and 107th Color Guard from the Niagara Falls Air Base.
The keynote address will be delivered by SGM Douglas G. Pechtel (Ret.), who joined the U.S. Army in 1974 and spent 10 years with the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). In 2001, his unit was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, spending seven months conducting combat operations. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his warfare operations.
Russell J. Salvatore, a veteran who served in the U.S. Army in the early 1950s - and whose generosity has benefited many veteran organizations over the years - said he is excited about hosting this tribute: "We built this park on an extremely valuable Transit Road acreage to honor America's fallen patriots and heroes. We want all veterans - and citizens - to feel at home in this park as they relax and reflect in a tranquil setting. The Veterans Day event is what the park was built for."
19th Special Forces Company
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, have remained close. More than 100 veterans and their families dedicated a tree and monument to honor 47 of their fallen comrades during a 45th reunion in 2013 at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and, earlier this year, celebrated a 50th reunion with a weekend of activities in Niagara Falls.
While looking for a cause to support a few years ago, they learned a Vietnam veteran from their group was dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other health issues. PTSD is caused from experiencing severe trauma or being in a life-threatening event either during war or in a noncombat situation. For many veterans, it impacts and alters their everyday lives. Relapses are common.
"This member of our group told us about the outstanding care he was receiving at the Jack H. Wisby Jr. PTSD Treatment Center in the Batavia VA Medical Center," 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 United States."
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. PTSD Treatment Center. For the Center of Hope, make checks out to: VA WNY Healthcare System," and on the memo line, enter "GPF 1933 Woman Veterans Residential Program."
Those who cannot attend the ceremony but want to place a donation in the special forces' "Holy Grail" can send donations to CSM Alfred R. LaChance (RET), "Financial Minister," 4732 Porter Center Road, Lewiston, NY, 14092.

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