WEST SPRINGFIELD, MASS. (WWLP) – Friday was opening day at The Big E, and fairgoers descended to West Springfield for the first time in two years.
It was also Military Appreciation Day, which meant veterans could get in for free, but they’ve had a very warm welcome from the many veteran agencies featured there. Our 22News crew ran into many veterans around the fairgrounds Friday.
They received a free ticket upon entry, but they’ve gotten more than just that. Along the Avenue of states, many Veteran agencies set up booths, offering support and services to vets who came through. The VA Central Western Massachusetts was among them.
Andrew McMahon, the associate director of operations at the VA Central Western Massachusetts, told 22News, “It means so much to us. It gives us a chance to engage in the veteran community, we feel like it’s been missing for 18 months, the opportunity to really get out there.”
Richard Kaplan, a U.S. Air Force Veteran from East Longmeadow added, “Always here on opening day. Love it for veterans, yeah, not just cuz it’s free. It’s not as crowded. It’s just a good feeling.”
McMahon said they’ve been offering free flu vaccinations, and are registering vets for covid vaccine appointments. Vets like Kaplan also received a free goodie bag in appreciation for his service in the air force.
The U.S. flag hanging in front of the Maine building was put up in respect of all current and past military members.