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Annual ‘Stand Down’ event for veterans held outside and online amid pandemic

Connecticut

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WTNH)– A tradition for Connecticut veterans looks very different this year, due to the pandemic.

It’s called “Stand Down,” named for the time when combat is over and troops can relax. For Roy Anthony Williams, that happened a while ago.

“I got out of the service 49 years ago,” Williams remembered. “We got spit on because we were baby killers.”

REALTED: Day 1 of virtual Stand Down Veterans event

Attitudes have changed since the Vietnam War. This event is all about helping veterans.

“Personal need items, clothing as well as Covid-19 testing and flu shots at no charge for our veterans,” said Connecticut Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi.

Some things are even homemade, like cold weather gear from the American Legion Auxiliary.

“We do all hats and scarves, and they’re homemade,” said North Haven resident Ruth Morgan. “When they were all here, there were times when we did, like, 2,000.”

They are not all here this year, however. Usually veterans crowd the state VA grounds in Rocky Hill for things like free haircuts and dental work.

None of that can happen now due to the coronavirus pandemic. Only 45 vets at a time were allowed in to wander the handful of booths.

As empty and quiet as things were in person, there were many things happening online. Seminars and classes on a variety of topics. That is a change the Department of Veterans Affairs has had to make over the past few months.

“You know, we’ve been able to help veterans with their service-connected disability compensation claims, and some of our more senior veterans and their surviving spouses with their pension,” explained Veterans service provider Anne Mosher.

She was a combat medic in Desert Storm. She knows the sacrifices these men and women made, no matter what war they were in.

“It’s still nice to be appreciated,” said Williams, showing off some of what he picked up. “See, you could tell, I needed a backpack, and I got one. See? God provides.”

Hopefully, the whole country does for those who fought to keep us free.

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