VIDEO: Legislation Filed to Help Veterans with PTSD; Observance Acknowledges their Sacrifices

Voice narration by Patty Stocker.

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The town’s veterans were honored on Nov. 11 with a ceremony attended by state Sen. Ed Kennedy (Lowell-D), state Rep. James Arciero (Westford-D), Select Board Chair Elizabeth Almeida, Select Board member Scott Hazelton, Veterans Service Officer Ryan Cobleigh, Town Manager Jodi Ross, Assistant Town Manager Eric Heideman, also a veteran, and VFW Post 159 Chaplain Arthur Pellerin.

Kennedy, who won his position in November 2018, used the gathering to highlight successful legislation.

“I am proud to have co-sponsored a bill filed by my colleague and friend, state Representative Jim Arciero of Westford to improve the current real estate tax exemption for disabled veterans,” Kennedy said.

Under the current law, he said, a disabled veteran can only receive a real estate tax exemption for being either 10 percent or 100 percent disabled. A glitch in the law sometimes puts the more severely disabled veteran into the 10 percent bracket, meaning he or she receives less aid.

“This bill would change the law to allow a higher exemption for veterans who fall in between this range…, creating a fairer system…,” Kennedy said.

Arciero stressed the importance of helping those who served with more than words of gratitude.

“While it’s important to voice our eternal gratitude to our veterans, I do believe, our military veterans deserve more,” Arciero said. “For it’s not only through words that we should honor them, but through our deeds as well.”

Arciero called for a commitment that veterans get the care and benefits they deserve. To that end he has filed other bills designed to help military veterans. A bill that just passed unanimously in the House focuses on post traumatic stress disorder. If approved by the Senate, the law would make it possible to train clinical and non-clinical counselors at state colleges and universities to recognize and assist with issues related to PTSD in active duty members as well as among veterans who are students.

Almeida spoke about Armistice Day in Westford, on Nov. 11, 1918, pulling historic stories and information from the defunct local newspaper, the Westford Wardsman. She said the celebration was attended by thousands –nearly the entire Westford population.

“Today I would like to talk about what happened in Westford on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918…” Almeida said. “The unity experienced in our country after Armistice Day is one we should spend time contemplating and perhaps each of us will be inspired to bring that unity to life today, one hundred and one years later.

“As we depart today, I implore you to contemplate the image of the entire town gathering on this town common to celebrate peace,” Almeida concluded.

The ceremony ended with a benediction from Pellerin.

Thank you notes are handed to the town’s veterans. PHOTO BY JOYCE PELLINO CRANE