VERMONT (WFFF) — State leaders spent Veteran’s Day honoring servicemen and women in Vermont. Gov. Phil Scott spoke in Colchester while members of Vermont’s congressional delegation gathered in Burlington, where the mayor also joined vets to celebrate the oldest VFW post in the state.
“It’s important to remember, the services and sacrifices of the American people have value,” said Scott, as he stood beside the “Flag’s for Heroes display,” a program created by the Milton/Colchester Rotary. “It’s so important for us to not only thank our veterans but to listen to their stories as well.”
Every year, Vermont veterans gather in Battery Park in Burlington. This year, vets came together to hear remarks from Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch. They say they want vets to know their support and advocacy will continue beyond Veterans Day. “The most important thing with something like is where Vermont veterans can say ‘Yes, our fellow Vermonters are with us,” said Leahy.
Welch said he and Leahy are working to pass more legislation that guarantees vets access to housing and healthcare, especially to victims of burn pits. “We need to make certain that the cost of the war has to include the continuing cost of caring for the warriors,” he said.
VFW Post 782 in Burlington, the state’s oldest post, turned 100 years old in 2021. And in a year that saw the end of America’s longest war, one veteran of Afghanistan understands the importance of bringing vets together.
“After losing buddies in combat and veteran suicide, I decided to start an organization to help relieve some of the stresses and difficulties that combat veterans and the challenges that they have,” said Shannon Blake, who served in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004. Blake is the president and founder of SOAR—Support, Outreach, Assistance, and Recovery—whose support services help retired war vets heal from their experiences.
Veteran Robert Colby says he was 19 when he went to Vietnam. He also served as state commander for the VFW and is a life member of Post 782. “For me, it’s an honor to have served, but it’s an honor to have served with the men and the women that I’ve served with,” said Colby. “You can come in here and talk to some of the people that have been through what you’ve been through.”