GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Christopher Demars was named to lead the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Services District.

According to a news release, Mayor Roxann Wedegartner of Greenfield named Christopher Demars, a retired sergeant major in the U.S. Army to lead the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Services Districts starting November 14.

For assistance in federal benefits visit the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Services District website for locations and hours.

Demars served two tours in Afghanistan and has been the district’s deputy director since February 2020. He will take over for Director of Veterans’ Services Timothy Niejadlik, who will be retiring after nine years in the post. Niejadlik is a retired U.S. Army officer who received a Bronze Star during the Iraq war. Previously he served as director of veteran services in Holyoke.

“I’d like to thank Mayor Wedegartner and the City of Greenfield for entrusting me with this important role,” stated Demars. “Though the leadership in the district is changing, our commitment to veterans is unwavering. Our team remains ready to help veterans access the benefits they earned in defense of our country, both at our referral center in Greenfield and at satellite locations throughout the upper Pioneer Valley.”

“I want to thank the district’s veterans and their families for giving me the honor of helping them and learning their stories as I retire from Veterans’ Services,” said Niejadlik. “It was truly satisfying to help them get the benefits and help they deserved for their service. I also wish to thank the local veteran’s organizations like the Oak Ridge Detachment MCL 628, the local VFW Posts 9874 and 3295, Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1, and the DAV Chapter 33 for their support and help.”

Demars served as a veterans counselor at Greenfield Community College after a 27-year career in the military. Demars’ second tour in Afghanistan was short because he was critically injured by a suicide bomber in 2011 and spent nine months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Demars then received two Bronze Stars for Service, two Purple Hearts, and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor and the Combat Infantry Badge for his heroism in Afghanistan.

“The community really came through for my family when I was wounded, and I feel it’s my duty to give back,” said Demars. “My priorities for the department include restarting support programs that were suspended during the pandemic and stepping up outreach to local veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances who may be eligible for expanded benefits under the new PACT Act.”