Nov. 10, 2010By Stephanie Choate Observer staff
Chittenden County residents will have several ways to honor veterans on Thursday.
“To me, it’s a day to just say thank you to all the veterans,” said John Boardman, commander of the Essex Veterans of Foreign Wars post, who recently retired after 32 years in the Army. “We often think about our departed comrades, but sometimes I think we don’t thank the living enough.”
VFW’s Essex post is hosting a Veterans Day service at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Five Corners in Essex Junction.
Jeff Goodrich, a history teacher at Essex High School, is set to be this year’s guest speaker. Goodrich will discuss “what Veterans Day is all about,” Boardman said.
After the ceremony, the VFW post will hold an open house.
“It’s to let all the living veterans know that we still respect what they did or are doing, and to let everyone know that we still haven’t forgotten our departed comrades,” Boardman said.
VFW’s Howard Plant Post in Burlington is also set to hold its annual Veterans Day Service in Battery Park at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
“We usually have a very good turnout, and it looks like we’ll have pretty good weather this year,” Quartermaster Chuck Munson said. “I’ve done it in the snow and it’s not as fun.”
Munson said the service normally includes speeches from the offices of Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch.
“These people have given their time to serve their nation,” Munson said. “We’ll remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice. They risked their lives so we can be free.”
The Committee on Temporary Shelter is also working to raise awareness about homeless veterans this week.
“We want to make sure the public knows, as we honor our veterans on Veterans Day, that we do have issues with homeless veterans,” said Becky Holt, director of development and communications for COTS.
COTS officials have placed 98 yellow flags around Burlington’s City Hall Park, the St. Michael’s College campus and near the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Winooski. The flags represent the 98 Vermont veterans who are homeless on any given night, according to a 2010 Point in Time census.
“Actually the younger veterans coming back from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are becoming homeless faster than veterans from the Vietnam War,” Holt said.
COTS also held a briefing Wednesday morning about its Canal Street Veterans Housing project in Winooski. The project was formed with the help of Vietnam veterans.
“They said, ‘We don’t want the same thing to happen to younger veterans that happened to us,’” Holt said.
COTS and Housing Vermont are building a new six-story building that will feature transitional two-year housing for homeless veterans, as well as some permanent housing. Construction is set to wrap up next month, and the building is scheduled to open in January.
Boardman said going to a Veterans Day service isn’t the only way to honor veterans.
“Anytime you meet a veteran, just say, ‘Thank you for your service,’” he said.